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New Gourna Village
Luxor, Egypt
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Pioneering project in sustainable human settlement.

image: Christopher Little/ Aga Khan Trust for Culture | © all rights reserved
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Category:
housing
Phase:
in use
Design:
Hassan Fathy
Updated:
12 October 2011
introduction

New Gourna was a housing project masterminded by Hassan Fathy with the objective of re-housing the Seven Thousand people of Gourna, a village built on the site of the Tomb of the Nobles, part of the ancient cemetery of Thebes (now Luxor, Egypt). The project incorporated traditional techniques and materials and vernacular styles with the benefit of contemporary know-how, generating an economically and ecologically sustainable building ethos that was integral to the community that would occupy the village.

Village of Gournah.

image: Bernard Gagnon | CC-BY-ND_black.png some rights reserved
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cultural and social context

Gourna was a village grown out of tomb raiding, a community of people who lived off of the proceeds of artifacts supplied by the ancient graveyard, on and around which their settlement had established itself, as well as work connected with official excavations. The time came when the tombs were not as fruitful as they once were, tourism died down and the authorities became less and less tolerant of raiders. Inevitably the Egyptian government eventually decided it was time to evict the Gournis from the historically significant site of the established home.

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materials and building techniques

New Gourna showcases the potential of traditional techniques as genuine solutions to some contemporary problems. All of the buildings here are built from the earth of which they stand, in the form of either adobe or, as in most cases, baked mud bricks. A huge brick production yard was setup on site to supply the build with adjacent water supply, established using the holes the generated by the excavation of mud for bricks.

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earth and climate

New Gourna is in Upper Egypt, the region occupying the south of the country. Water is plentiful, even for the further reaches of the settlement that are not directly on the Nile, as a network of waterways has been developed over the centuries, carrying water inland to help sustain life. However, rainfall is scarce and temperatures reach 50 degrees in the summer so most of the land itself is dry and much of daily life for the inhabitants revolves around water.

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image gallery
New Gourna Main Square

image: Hassia | © all rights reserved
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New Gourna Housing

image: Dimitri Papadimou | © all rights reserved
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New Gourna Boys Primary School

image: Roger Viollet | © all rights reserved
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New Gourna Marketplace Arcade

image: Hassia | © all rights reserved
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New Gourna Mosque

image: Hassan Fathy | © all rights reserved
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New Gourna Roofs

image: Hassia | © all rights reserved
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New Gourna Street View

image: Roger Viollet | © all rights reserved
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New Gourna Terraces

image: Hassan Fathy | © all rights reserved
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Location
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Keyword:
community practice (102)
big ideas (7)
earth (59)
traditional technique (33)
low tech (27)
mud brick (24)
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