Journey of the Egyptians with Architecture, Desert Architecture
A Seminar & Signing for the book "In Quest of an approach for Existence in Desert Architecture"
23 March 2013

Organizers: Tarek Waly Center in cooperation with the Supreme Council of Culture, Committee of Architecture

The Supreme Council of Culture, Cairo

Seminar & Exhibition

El Bagawat is an architectural hymn whose melodies are in harmony with the rhythms of the desert in which it was raised. The village of El Bagawat was located in the heart of the Western desert, in the Kharga Oasis, hundreds of kilometers from the valley

They believe that El Bagawat, a village for the dead and ascetics of life, aspiring to the other world. A hypothesis is borne out by the evidence, but El Bagawat retains its urban life features... a necropolis in its appearance... full of eternal life in its essence...

It is difficult to determine the date of the migration of the Egyptian Copts, fleeing from the persecution of the Romans, and the settlement of El Bagawat, and most likely it began in the middle of the second century AD. Its urban development continued until the seventh century AD, when the city of Kharga was destroyed, so migration was from El Bagawat, and its urban setback, reaching us today from the ruins of buildings, indicating the ability of the creative human, to survive by his will and instinct.

El Bagawat is located at the end of Al-Tair plateau, on an area not exceeding five hundred meters in length and two hundred meters in width, and the rest of its structures over the last five hundred years is about 263 units of various types. Patterns formed by the basic system expressing the Egyptian human, and the creativity of his architecture, in harmony with himself and his environment, and related to his time and place. Its basis is mind and reason, and its essence is imagination and conscience.

The church is in the middle of the urban formation of El Bagawat, and the funerary chapels of different types gather around it. The general urban structure of the village and its architecture meet and unite... all at once... all organize to play the same tune within the same symphony. Those various patterns of El Bagawat were built from the same bricks of the same material, to give contradictory images united by the spirit of one, and the principle of unification. We can hear and see in the hymn of El Bagawat two main forms:

  • The first: the spatial and design layout, the Essence.
  • The second: the form and structural pattern, the Appearance.

Most of the funerary chapels of El Bagawat follow this simple design style, with square and sometimes rectangular forms. It is difficult to determine the nature of the construction of ceilings for these units, even if the ruins indicate the use of flat wooden ceilings.

The structures of this style are spreading throughout its urban formation, but this type of buildings gave the village its distinctive architectural character, and from it acquired the name “Bagawat”. The number of the funerary chapels of this type is 112 units, some of which are preceded by open courtyards, in which expressions and symbols are available, between the open space to the sky and the space covered by a dome.

In its essence, the dome is a symbol of the sky, these are cosmic expressions in which the creative craftsmen were associated with their environment and faith. Despite the scarcity of what remains of the buildings of this style, what has reached us contains all indications of the completion of both sides of the geometric orders of brick architecture. This pattern combines the different patterns in one architectural sentence that represents a sophisticated design stage in the architecture of El Bagawat.

These models testify to the ability of the creative architects to develop their architectural vocabulary and to form and install new and renewable sentences and order, without losing their harmony with the whole.