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Contemporary Architecture in the Arab…

Contemporary Architecture in the Arab States: Renaissance of a Region

by Udo Kultermann

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This book is, without a doubt, a seminal work on Middle Eastern architecture.

Its focus, fortunately, is not on the plethora of Western companies and architects doing work in the Middle East (although it does mention these), but on local architects that are mostly unknown in the West, despite years of amazing work.

The names include Hassan Fathy, Mohamed Saleh Makiya, Rasem Badran, Rifat Chadirji, Abdel-Wahed El-Wakil, Kamal El-Kafrawi, and many others.
He also covers the many excellent buildings designed by Western architects who have shown a sensitivity to the locale.

What I found most impressive about the book is Kultermann's focus on local traditions and the cultures that spawned them, as well as his disdain for the international architecture that has no connection to the past or to the people it is designed for.

For someone with little knowledge of the architectural traditions of the Middle East, this is an invaluable introduction.
For Arab architects looking for inspiration from their predecessors, this book contains many projects and images as creative fodder.

It is rare when reading a book to feel as if the author has spent years in research, and still has a burning passion for the topic he is writing about.

The only drawback of this book is that it is from 1999, and I think a new edition with an extra chapter or two on the myriad of recent projects in the Gulf states, with Kultermann's unique perspective, is in order.

Sadly, I think that he would be devastated at the current state of architectural projects in the Middle East, which is why every prospecting client should read this book before they begin a project. ( )
  ts. | Jan 25, 2010 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0070368317, Hardcover)

Udo Kultermann's Contemporary Architecture in the Arab States couples case studies with over 100 never-before-seen illustrations to chronicle modern architectural developments in each Arab nation. From government offices and public spaces, to houses of education and religion, the featured examples include designs for both commercial and private clients. The book also explores the unlikely collaboration between large foreign architectural firms and their smaller, yet essential, Arab counterparts and highlights the cultural self-examination that occurs while redesigning ancient cities to coincide with modern needs.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:58 -0400)

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