© 2019 by Wafaa Samir.
 

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WHAT REMAINS (2016)

What Remains hopes to document - while contemplating - the sustainable city New Gouna, built by the renowned architect Hassan Fathy.

In 1946 Fathy’s village was built to shelter the people of Gourna town in the city of Luxor, who were evacuated to reduce damage to the Ancient Egyptian tomb they discovered underneath it. New Gourna was in Fathy’s signature style; sustainable and eco-friendly, made from mudbricks from the surrounding environment, naturally ventilated to withstand the desert heat, with large bright rooms and beautiful domes, all at a low cost. Over the years the underground water levels increased and the mudbrick began to deteriorate, leading many residents to replace Fathy’s homes with matchbox houses made of fire-bricks. Today, nearly 50% of the original buildings have crumbled.

As a student of architecture, I explore and engage with what has remained of this ideal, almost utopic city that has become legend-like in student books. The photos are a way of putting my expectations against the reality I experienced upon visiting New Gourna for the first time. In the sense of absence that emerges from the series, the project asks: What has stayed of this ideal city? Is it just the idea, or the bravery of the attempt? A feeling, or an ideal to keep striving towards?