New Hotel project in New Gourna


New Gourna

Save the heritage of Hassan Fathy has been informed that the governorate of the West Bank in Luxor is planning to sell agricultural land beside New Gourna village in order to build a hotel "inspired" by Hassan Fathy.
The building of a new tourism complex is being projected while New Gourna village has just been examined by UNESCO for protection and listed on the World Monuments Watch List.
Thus Save the heritage of Hassan Fathy is concerned by the legitimacy of such a project in this area.
Not only does it raise the question of threats on the already very fragile state of New Gourna village but also of its adaptability to the environment and the surrounding landscape...
Moreover, why should such a project be implemented on agricultural land? 
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Helfried Nagel 16/06/2011 23:25

I had last week the opprtunity to visit the oasis Siwa in Egypt. By this stay I met the Architect Ramez Azmy, who might be reponsible for for the new hotel in Gourna. The concept of this new hotel
will be the same what he created several times before. He has been the chief architect and contractor for the Desert Ecolodge in Siwa six years ago, completely constructed in mud.
( His latest work has been another remarkable ECO hotel directly in the historical ancient town in Siwa. Two month
ago he finished the reconstruction of the 800 years old mosque in Siwa too, that has completely broken down and destroyed. All this what I've seen gives me the feeling, that this is architect - not
to be compared to Hassan Fathy - will work in his way and spirit. If anybody is intersted I can send the photos taken in Siwa to get an impression.
Helfried Nagel, architect and photographer

george parish 22/11/2010 12:02

The reason that the Gurnawis rejected New Gurna was not the houses, the reason was that their livelihood was based upon and around the mountain.
As can easily be seen nowadays use of fired brick instead of mud, in the Summer one needs air-conditioning in Winter they need fires, Hassan Fathy took all this on-board in his planning what he
underestimated was total lack of assistance from the Government of the day. I live in a fine Adobe house and have no wish to use expensive modern fired brick.
"You can take a horse to water but cannot make it drink.

Dr. Nicole Hansen 15/10/2010 18:51

And what if the people decide they want to stay in their concrete houses? Hassan Fathy's village was built to rehouse the Gurnawis, who rejected it as undesirable and unsuitable. Squatters moved in
and eventually decided the houses were undesirable and unsuitable and replaced them with concrete houses that they preferred. Now, the plan is to kick them out of the houses they preferred and
built themselves and force them into Hassan Fathy style houses! Why is it so hard to understand that people in Luxor just don't want to live in domed mud houses?

The truth is, local architects under the direction of their local clients build the kind of houses that the people in Luxor want to live in already. That is the beauty that already exists in Luxor,
which the so-called experts and architects coming from Cairo and abroad simply fail to recognize. Luxor is not like Cairo or some other country where standard plan housing developments are
springing up everywhere.

Every house on the West Bank in Luxor is unique and reflects the unique desires and needs of its inhabitants. Most inhabitants of said homes contributed their own labor to build them. If it was a
desired and suitable form of house for locals, they would have been building the Hassan Fathy style of house all along without any intervention from UNESCO! But they don't, because they have never
liked them. Hassan Fathy's houses are a testament to one thing, the complete lack of understanding of outsiders of what people want in Luxor. If you want to prove you do understand the locals and
their needs, then let these monuments to heavy handed intervention from Cairo meet their natural demise.

Dissertation Proposal 23/08/2010 13:32

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Nicole Hansen 24/02/2010 11:26

The people working to save Hassan Fathy village need to realize how they have contributed to this. In attempting to convince the world that Hassan Fathy's village was worth saving, they have
created the impression that it is something valuable and a possible tourist attraction. And what is the natural conclusion in Egypt when something has tourist potential? People lose their homes,
businesses and land to develop the area around it into a theme park of sorts all sanitized and developed for tourists. It happened or is happening in Old Qurna, the Avenue of Sphinxes, Luxor
corniche, Maris, Fustat etc.

There are already a number of Hassan Fathy inspired homes belonging to or being built for foreigners on valuable agricultural land in Luxor.

Unintended consequences perhaps, but considering that Hassan Fathy's architecture was rejected by the local population from the outset and has only been valued by outsiders, it is not surprising
that this has led it to being used by outsiders at the expense of locals.

Sometimes it is best to let sleeping dogs lie. I could see something like this was going to happen from the outset.


After what was discussed at the UNESCO Committee, the inhabitants are one of the main concerns of the project. They should be totally included in the process, weather they want to stay in the
village or want to move. For example, the Abdel Rady Family has opened since the past ten years a small Hassan Fathy museum in New Gourna and intends to remain in his village. The other main
concern is to save the village from decay and demolition and rehabilitate houses which are becomming a danger for the inhabitants themselves.

Best Regards