Vision and Professional Practice
Cultural continuity is an inevitable necessity for architectural and urban practices. It is an assumed responsibility of the predecessors to bequeath to future generations. As well, it is an undertaking to address and hold a dialogue with the community. In the context of space, it addresses the interaction between man and his environment. Temporally the interaction takes place between the modern, the old and the ancient. Further, it is between incidental happenings and expectations. These combinations present the motivation for us to communicate and spread our vision. This process generates a tangible product: A shadow of a geometrical order which is the absolute formula, through which its contextual position within time and space is recorded. This physical expression may be presented in an individual building, or within an extended urban, and communal fabric. It apparently starts from void and may end to nothing. In essence, it is always an expression of man’s undertaking of urbanisation of place, as man is mortal, architecture and urbanism continue to exist and breed new expressions in the same place or in other places. These expressions may disregard the context of time itself, while architecture and urbanism stay on with the community; as they both are an abstract impression which holds the status of sustainability of the absolute. This is present and materialised for the community in its tangible building and city, despite the fact that each is subject to limitations of a span between a start and an end. While they fade away, however they remain in the memory as the shadow of the absolute absent.
Architecture and urbanism are the cause and source.
The dialectical relationship between cause and effect depicts and guarantees the existence of the community, while architecture and urbanism portray its initial manifestation. Together, they carry this mission as long as they have the ability. They become liberated from their material status, their incidence and, occurrence. They continue, and when either or both are separated, they become surpassed by society and time, and end by the final return to oblivion, whether they are physically existing, or dilapidated ruins, but in reality they become absent.
In this regard, mechanisms may be defined along two channels:
• Hypothesis: Through research, which relies on an inductive and analytical approach of reality of cases regarding certain urban communities, a specific urban cluster or a detailed humanitarian case.
• Application: implementing inventive architectural and urban design plans, through the possible and available operational manner to tackle issues that might rise at various levels of the community as a whole and even those of the individual.
To address architecture of varying patterns and levels, it is necessary to touch base with the fundamental pattern which forms a place within a temporal context. Creative architectural process in general, as perceived and practiced, is the birth of a space or a group of coherent and harmonious spaces that form a part of the infinite space. While it may not be a definite birth in a precise point of time, however, it is the real beginning of birth which continues with the passing of time. With this definition, it may be described as a balanced path which is made up of successive or sometimes overlapping processes, which harmoniously relate to human life of an individual in his singularity or a community in its uniqueness. The processes begin with a dream of an individual or a group to meet the needs or earn a right that has not yet materialized on the ground. As architects, we have to transform the dream into a vision, the features of which are illustrated in the interaction between reality and imagination, to crystallize the abstract idea towards the formulation of a tangible formula. This may be reached by realizing that the composition is not the aim in itself. Rather, it is the means to contain the essence of the geometric order, as the governing law of the creative process. It is the methodology and rational mode, associated with the extrapolation of a place within a defined time. The end goal is to transform an abstract idea or fantasy, with a focus on an activity, function of or human requirements, into reality. This may take place through the ability to extrapolate, at a particular point of time to reach the design stage, followed by construction.
Architecture is one of the most important illustrators employed by man to hold a dialogue with his time, record his creativities, and existence beyond his time. The scope of our responsibility is not the restoration endeavor of a particular building, nor is it the preservation of elements of heritage value as this is the responsibility of specialists. In these fields, architects and urban designers hold an assisting role, while the essence of their responsibility is the extrapolation of underlying patterns of urbanism in a heritage site where these legacies are found. It is an analytical and in some instances a critical extrapolation of the urbanism of a particular inheritance site, unfolding the underlying geometrical orders that had formulated it and granted it with its quality and value. Then, the architecture of that particular place, its territorial and urban domains of present time through those orders may be formulated. The intention then is not to imitate or employ vernacular architectural vocabulary or motifs, but rather, to divert a creative ability to communicate with the absolute value that lie within the geometrical orders which underlie urbanism of a place.
Historical and heritage areas hold inherent energies which had been stored along lengths of time, which are a testament to creativity of civilization. It is by adopting this vision that the concept of development may be realized, through the re-discovery of the creative process, in its absolute status. This depends on the adoption of a conscious understanding and full awareness of its secrets. This vision is affirmed in the desired interaction within present-day architectural needs, which interact and overlap in total harmony with the place, not to overwhelm, but rather to act as the overture of a historical symphony, that avoids simulation, while adopting harmony. Consequently, a new and yet old picture is illustrated of a place, allowing a view and resonance of a past civilization. Through this illustration we get to realize attributes of a past civilization, its input and creative abilities, without a division between the present and the locale. Moreover, the locale is to play a role in the community and its development, as it radiates over the immediate urban domain and the interactive communal framework.
The morphology of a historic city comprises consecutive rings of culture, urban, intellectual, and social chain for a community with a cultural heritage. The approach for the development and upgrading of any of these historical settlements may be defined in an inevitability of a modern paradigm targeting such communities, and moreover, the whole world with its contemporary civilization. The outcome is the attainment of a vision that allows a view beyond the narrow concept of development; through which the community may cross towards the revival of the soul, the delivery of a message in the midst of incidental variables. This message is deep rooted in history, with its branches flying in the prospects of the future. To determine the parameters of this discourse, we must extrapolate urban patterns witnessed by the city; depending on an understanding of the morphology and evolution of its urbanism, the variables of its growth and the role of man and community in this dynamism. That depends on two axes: The geographical environment and givens of the place on one hand, and the historical roots and memory of time on the other. This takes place while keeping pace with an awareness of the entirety of the community and urban development domains , set in:
Community development: Including upgrading of prevailing social, economic and cultural situations, in integration with urban upgrading, as urban development processes are inseparable from man .
Infrastructure upgrading: Including roads, utilities and infrastructure networks .
Upgrading social services: At their various levels.
Upgrading built-up masses: Including public buildings, especially those of historical and heritage value.
Our vision of the development of existing urban communities is crystallized through a process of extrapolation of predicaments that may be suffered by these communities, such as degradation phenomena. Hence, development programs, for these communities, may be identified, in accordance with the priorities and in line with the conditions, community and urban structure within the framework of the comprehensive development itself. These may be defined along integrated axes which are:
Justice, The right of citizens for a better life, access to services, living requirements and life resources, in the manner and quality that may support a dignified life, and within the framework of the priorities of the community. This is to ensure an efficient and equitable distribution of these requirements and resources among residents of urban communities that collectively form an entity of a city.
Participation, Citizens input in the development and upgrading stages of their locales and communities, may take place through their own individual and collective efforts in cooperation with relevant institutions. This is to create a state of balance between state and community, which requires the formulation of institutional, community-based frameworks, for those involved, in order to ensure the widening and deepening of pro-active participation. Moreover they are to ensure upgrading local management and efficiency of the mechanisms governing this participation.
Sustainability, Refers to the Identification of community capabilities, along with, the possibility of their development for more compatibility with present-day variables and continuous adaptation. This calls for an effective and positive role by end users, in the implementation of development programs; and the reliance on structured methods for funding. This is to encompass the support of the state, non-governmental organizations, community-based associations, credit cooperatives and the like; as well as indirect forms of amassing domestic resources by means of mobilization of the community.
Thus we view the development of new communities as an urban pole , at a calculated distance from existing communities or others under development. The priority is to settle a community with its requirements and rights, with all its inherited legacies, problems and disadvantages, as well as its energies, potentials and advantages. Hence, the intervention of the social or communal feasibility come to act , according to community-based criteria for the settlement of an existing , relocated, or growing community. This is in order for the development processes not to turn into an expulsion practice of a local community, to serve national development, risking failure of the development experience or departure from its framework. Our vision for the urbanism of such communities is perceived as new communities for the settlement of an old or an existing community following its relocation. In a more abstract form the process may be expressed as an urban upgrading of an existing community on a new locale.
So, this, in its totality is our adopted vision, through both of its axis the theoretical and the applied over the various fields. This professional practice of is not linked to commercial activities, but it depends on a vision and a sense of responsibility towards the community, its legal rights for a dignified life, and societal framework of civilization. The ultimate aim is to be achieved through mating of conceptual or hypothetical approaches with applied possibility and realistic dimension of the domain of the community under study as proves possible. Moreover, reaching a profound knowledge of the physical reality, socially, historically and environmentally, and identifying an active role for the architect and urban designer in bringing upon changes in circumstances to achieve a better life for the individual and the community.
Tarek Waly Center, Architecture and Heritage
Changing through a professional practice...