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The Architect’s Mentor Series – 03 Hassan Fathy

by Bert Bremer, AIA, NCARB

Architect's Mentor Series - Hassan Fathy - CambridgeSeven

I received my architecture degree at the Boston Architectural Center (now Boston Architectural College). While there, I became good friends with a classmate from Egypt. We spent many hours (often over tea, as Mohammed is a devout Muslim) discussing architecture and the state of the world generally. We shared an admiration for Hassan Fathy, an Egyptian who was both an architect and urban planner. Fathy was a pioneer in sustainable design, using local materials and natural ventilation to create habitable spaces of beauty and quiet dignity. Fathy’s most well-known project is the village of New Gourna, built in the 1940s near the Pyramids in Luxor. Later in my BAC studies, partly at Mohammed’s urging, I took a class focusing on classical Egypt, connected to a study tour starting in Cairo and traveling up the Nile to Abu Simbel. While on this tour, I persuaded the tour leaders to organize a side trip to New Gourna. While the project was never completed, what remained was inspiring. Fathy’s commitment to architecture as a tool for social good continues to energize me.

Village of New Gourna