May 24, 2010

Culture and Architecture!

Posted in English, Reflections, Revolutionary and Politician at 2:50 pm by Rou...

As some of you might already know I will be delivering a presentation on Heliopolis district next Wednesday insha’Allah…


Through my preparations for it, I had to read considerable info about its unique architecture, and go for long walks in its streets capturing early morning photos. This particularly reminded me of last year’s presentation on Khedive Ismail, when I went to downtown on an early Friday morning to capture photos for the remaining scenes of the once Parisian-like Khedival Cairo…


The thing is that, in the process, I couldn’t but ask myself the same question all over again…


Is there a relation between culture and architecture? Does being “Non-Cultured” (although I do not believe this word is valid, since everybody has his own culture in a way or another, even if it does not suit other people) affect the way people react towards their architectural surroundings and environment? Does living in a simple relaxing beautiful architecture affects how cultured people become? Or is it a mutual effect?


I kind of believe that it all boils down to how one perceive the word ‘culture’ itself… It depends on the system of belief that is practiced by certain community/group…


If you look closely into the sociological theory, there are three different ways in looking at culture:


1. Emile Durkheim version which tends to see culture as the one thing that defines how we react in a group


2. Karl Marx version where culture is supposedly created by the elites as a way to dominate others


3. Marx Weber version where culture is identified by the individual and not the masses
However, culture in its broadest sense integrates the core of all aspects of human endeavors… The awareness, wisdom and knowledge in various fields such as psychology, sociology, economics, anthropology, environmental sciences, engineering, law, politics, and architecture are combined in a way of life that is reflected in culture… In that sense, it is culture that shapes architecture…


What’s even more interesting ba2a is the fact that through different periods of development, architecture records the impact and influences of culture of its time and place; acting like a container in which the different environmental aspects (physically, culturally…etc) reacts together to give us eventually the physical product which’s the buildings, and hence architecture give us a great source of reference to the culture of different societies and nations… And in that sense, architecture becomes an expression of culture…


So, the end result is, as we used to study in basic computer lessons, “Garbage In Garbage Out”… Ya3ny if you’re living in a dull, unhealthy, and deadly place, do not expect to find extraordinary cultured people out there… and if you’re living in an underdeveloped, ignorant and immature community, do not expect them to build an extraordinary beautiful place… G.I.G.O.!


I still wonder though… Does changing the environment “non-cultured” people live in, make them more cultured?


I’m not sure I know the answer…


Hope to see you on Wednesday isA,


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