An Egyptian Tale
Publishing Date: January 2020
Available in a digital copy via the Open Access Publications Initiative
For Hassan Fathy, the village itself was not the aim. Rather, it was the first experimental step on the road to the complete renewal of the Egyptian countryside by rebuilding its villages to serve the community. The building, its techniques, materials, designs, and its final product were not the goal, but it was with the dream of the architect Hassan Fathy. The meanings to serve the community and improve its life. It was not just a village to settle a displaced population, but rather it became a special dream for an architect and his message, the dream that was not recognized. An opportunity in which the architect found his purpose to achieve his ideas and vision about the possibility of developing the Egyptian village, and to improve the life of the Egyptian peasant and his livelihood in which he saw misery, deprivation, backwardness, poverty and disease. That was the case of all peasants at the time, not only the inhabitants of the Old Gourna of the mountain, but it is a social situation for the majority of Egyptian peasants until the end of the first half of the twentieth century.
Now, more than seventy years after the birth of the dream, there are those who want to wreck the few that has been achieved. It is already beginning to wipe out that uncompleted start; and depriving us and the future generations of our national and historical memories, so that we live in a state of unconsciousness with a lost dream.
It was a proactive attempt to develop the Egyptian village
A dream that Hassan Fathy lived for and believed in, for the development of the New Gourna village in the middle of the twentieth century.
In our vision, it is imperative that there is no false heritage or false modernity, but there is an architecture that is truly the permanent visual expression of society, which means that the change will inevitably come to the New Gourna village in any case with the alterations happening in society and the changes of the era. Change is the condition of life and the society members themselves want the change. However, there is not a justification for ignoring the inheritance, and what it holds of permanent values, but it is the desired balance between the constant and the variable, and it is the responsibility of the architect, who has a dream and a vision; who is aware of his responsibility and duty towards his community and spreading his message.
In this case, the goal to elevate society and protect it from the influences from those around them and that is what we dream of along with recovering our dream and the return of the soul again. The success of the architecture and architect, whose dreams of serving the community, depends on the balance between the residents’ possibilities, their technical capabilities to produce, and the standard of living they need to be.
Here we understand those dialectical relationships between a person himself and his legacy in general
Therefore, you can interact with the heritage and create a new heritage
However, the dream was not finished
The book reviews the journey of both the old Gourna and the new Gourna, with the dream of the architect Hassan Fathy at the birth of the village or when the contemporary attempts of Tarek Waly Center Architecture and Heritage to return the soul to a dream after seventy years of the birth attempt.
The conflict remains between the architect -the owner of the dream- and the authorities –the decision-maker.