The Changing Cultural Identity in the Urban Fabric of the Contemporary. Islamic City: The Case of Cairo

MPhil Thesis

Ibrahim, Hany Talaat Ahmed (1992). The Changing Cultural Identity in the Urban Fabric of the Contemporary. Islamic City: The Case of Cairo. MPhil Thesis Council for National Academic Awards Faculty of the Built Environment, South Bank Polytechnic
AuthorsIbrahim, Hany Talaat Ahmed
TypeMPhil Thesis

Foreign intervention in Muslim countries necessitated the establishment of new traditions, lifestyles, and philosophies which differed from the indigenous cultural context. The contemporary urban developments in Islamic cities are modelled on foreign design and construction systems dissimilar from established techniques. The established traditional planning, architectural, and construction techniques in Islamic cities, are an authentic outcome of the intellectual reaction of the individual Muslim and the surrounding natural environment. This interaction therefore reflected and represented a cultural manifestation of Islamic thought, function, and indigenous ideology in urban form illustrating a distinctive spatial identity. The implantation of foreign forms, planning and construction techniques disturbed the intricate relation between culture, behaviour, and urban form, and the current urban crisis in contemporary Islamic cities is argued to be a direct result of this foreign utilization.
Taking Cairo as a case study example of the Islamic city, the thesis addresses four main issues. First to discuss and establish a link between culture and its expression through urban form, asserting that architecture, urban design, and planning express the cultural identity of a specific group. Second to examine the historical Islamic architectural and planning development of Cairo, to demonstrate that there has been a continuity of an established indigenous tradition, that has been broken by foreign intervention and ignored by authorities in contemporary urban development in Muslim countries. Third to assess the consequences of foreign interference upon indigenous lifestyles, social and physical structure, planning, architecture, architectural education and current practice, an argument that foreign intervention is a main cause of the current urban crisis. Fourth to examine contemporary attempts which seek to produce alternative architectural and planning solutions to the problems of growth and development, in relation to the Egyptian cultural context. In this concern the theory and work of the Egyptian architect Hassan Fathy will be examined.
The relationship between culture, behaviour, and urban form is understood through a series of case studies in areas of Cairo and new towns incorporating contemporary planning, housing, and development proposals. The empirical conclusions derived from these study areas is used to demonstrate the failure of the current planning, design and construction system. It is also argued that these systems have ignored fundamental cultural, social, and climatic criteria, and produced "solutions" that are inappropriate. In conclusion it is asserted that attempts to deal with the urban development of the Islamic city, can only be successful if they encapsulate the complex interaction of the culture, behaviour, and urban form relation that is expressed in planning, urban design, architecture, and construction. This is proposed as a starting point not an end in itself.

PublisherLondon South Bank University
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Deposited02 Dec 2023
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