Hassan Fathy, Earth & Utopia
by Salma Samar Damluji & Viola Bertini
“We are not concerned with the people with millions. We are concerned with those who earn millimes,” said the late Hassan Fathy (1900-1989), Egypt’s best-known 20th-century architect. Known for his commitment to designing for the rural poor, his legacy as a humanitarian and architect is brought to life in this critical new volume – the very first on Fathy.
Organised in two parts, ‘The Culture and Philosophy’ and ‘Design, Planning and Earth Construction’, the book’s 368 pages and 450 illustrations present a man far ahead of his time and yet acutely aware of his present.
The excellent interviews conducted by the author, together with the photographs and drawings from the Hassan Fathy archives and Fathy’s own writings are all compelling, but it’s Salma Samar Damluji’s ‘Personal Encounter’ essay that steals the show with its reflections. Another fine essay is Viola Bertini’s ‘Watercolours: The Logic and Poetics of Representation’, which explains Fathy’s research on the techniques, materials and forms that might define an architectural language to investigate Egypt’s ‘identity’.
This book is an absolute must-have for the library of anyone interested in architecture, design and sustainability, and the importance of social and political justice via these fields.