Rehabilitation & reuse of historical mud-brick architecture in El-Qasr (Dakhleh oasis Egypt)

W.H.M. Schijns

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

AI-Qasr is a small historical town in the Dakhleh Oasis in the Western Desert in Egypt. The old center of al-Qasr, completely built in mud brick, is now almost abandoned and is deteriorating more and more. The endangered earthen architecture, which still determines the shape of the town, dates from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) has recognized the value of this endangered architecture and as a result the town of al-Qasr was placed under monument protection. There were, however, no actual plans regarding maintenance and reuse. This paper includes a partial description of a Qasr Dakhleh Project (QDP), which has recently started, and which aims to rehabilitate and repopulate the old city by studying the architecture, building history and developing of a pilot model for restauration and rehabilitation. The inner town mainly consists of four storeyed houses that were built in such a way that they are adequately adapted to the hot climate ofthe desert: they are built very compactly with narrow, often covered streets and ingenious ventilation systems. Examples demonstrate how, after restauration and reconstruction, the qualities of these old structures could be useful again for present-day inhabitants. The traditional and sustainable building technology using sun-dried mud bricks will be maintained and executed by local masons, who still master this skill well enough to be able to reconstruct the buildings in the original way. The success of the rehabitation will be crucial to the survival of the mud-brick architecture of al-Qasr. The results of the pilot will provide the decisive answer to this question.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 9th International Conference on the Study and Conservation of Earthen Architecture, Terra 2003, Yazd, Iran
EditorsH. Barzegar, R. Karaji
Pages504-512
Publication statusPublished - 2003

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