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Kazerouni House: a Traditional Architectural Statement in the Egyptian Countryside

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The Kazerouni house, which is known as “Mit Rehan”, meaning “the way of the basil”, also exhibited Hassan Fathy's ability in handling the use of the traditional Egyptian vocabularies such as domes, vaults, arches, as well as mashrabiyyahs

One of the most outstanding houses of the renowned Hassan Fathy is the Kazerouni house. In 1979, the two sisters, Samiha and Nazly Kazerouni, friends of Fathy, approached him to build a house in the countryside on Saqqara Road, Giza, Egypt. They were impressed by Fathy’s concept of using traditional materials and forms. The Kazerounis believed that Fathy’s traditional “style would blend in better with the peaceful green fields of the area than more modern styles”.

      Image credit    General view to the house overlooking the back courtyard

 

Image credit      Domes and vaults                   Image credit     Fireplace chimney 

Like theAlpha Bianca house, built by Fathy in Spain, the Kazerounis suggested their essential requirements, including the number of bedrooms, a large living room, and a clear view of the surrounding countryside. However, Fathy sought to design a house which would hold a meaning for the family and satisfy their needs. Although the house is a straightforward solution to the particular conditions, it represented a definitive model of Fathy’s ideas of what a house should be both in plan and elevation.

 Image credit    Fountain and Mashrabiyyah       Image credit     Wooden lattice work       

The Kazerouni house, which is known as “Mit Rehan”, meaning “the way of the basil”, also exhibited the architect’s ability in handling the use of thetraditional Egyptian vocabularies such as domes, vaults, arches, as well as mashrabiyyahs (wooden lattice work) outside and inside the house. The ground floor is L-shaped in plan, enclosing an internal courtyard along the east and south sides. The north side of the courtyard comprises a domed loggia to catch the breeze as well as to provide shade during the summer, while a limestone wall containing three pointed-arch mashrabiyyah windows closes the west side.

     Image credit      Courtuard with sitting area and mashrabiyyah windows

The courtyard’s mashrabiyyah windows overlook large gardens, trees and a vegetable patch. One of the distinctive features of the ground floor is the reception area which overlooks the surrounding house-garden and the interior courtyard through pointed-arch windows covered by mashrabiyyahs and stained glass. The sitting area in the first floor overlooks the main entrance through a large mashrabiyyah window which provides a focal point to the house. Although the architect used a limited number of building materials, a subtle relationship was established between the limestone blocks and the wooden mashrabiyyah windows, latticework and balustrades.

                              Image credit     Interior view: Sitting area

        

 

           Image credit     Interior view: Sitting area

Fathy treated the limestone with the herb fenugreek, which is a traditional method of preventing cracking and chipping that Fathy learned from his research into traditional Egyptian architecture. The herb is boiled until it forms a sticky paste and then applied to the limestone blocks. Like the walls, the floors inside the house were also covered with sheets of stone to give the home a more rural look. On top of the limestone walls, Fathy built the large dome of mud-brick. In addition, according to the Islamic-Arabic traditions, the architect gave each room in the house the appropriate dimensions to its use regardless of the symmetry or asymmetry of the façade. There is no doubt that the Kazerouni house represented a milestone on the architect’s professional career.

References:

1. Robert Hefferon & Deborah Hefferon, House Glorious: Where Every Step Has A Meaning. Cairo Today, v. 3, no. 10, October 1982, p. 44.

2. Shadia Iskandar, House & Garden. Egypt Today, v. 18, no. 5, May 1997, p. 87.

3. Hefferon, Robert & Deborah Hefferon, House Glorious: Where Every Step Has A Meaning. Cairo Today, v. 3, no. 10, October 1982, pp.44.

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Abdel-moniem El-Shorbagy

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