Hassan Fathy (1900–1989) was among the most important architects of Africa and the Middle East. As an intellectual, writer, humanist, architect and scientist, he considerably influenced generations of architects and engineers throughout the world.
He was born in Alexandria and worked mainly in Egypt except for the five years he spent in Greece where he worked in the very cosmopolitan Doxiades Agency in Athens (1957-1962). He became internationally famous after the publication of Gourna, a Tale of two Villages in 1969, published again in 1973 under the title of Architecture for the Poor: An Experiment in Rural Egypt. The tremendous impact of the book shook the whole world and had significant repercussions in Western academic circles. The depth of Hassan Fathy’s anthropological thinking, his genuine social concern and the wisdom of the reasoning underlying his architectural experience were internationally acclaimed but still need to be fully absorbed in the age of sustainable development we are presently entering. The notion of “appropriate technology” formulated by Fathy at the twilight of his life has not been sufficiently acknowledged, in particular in emergent countries.