Let’s rediscover (english summary)
Salon Suisse 2016: Friday 17 June
Architect Salma Samar Damluji helps us discover Middle East oriental building culture. “I’m very concerned, not about the past but about the future!” These words sum up her philosophy very well after her presentation about traditional building techniques of construction in Middle East.
The Pasolini Revelation
Samar Damluji started the evening with a discussion with Benno Albrecht. This Venetian professor of architecture asked her about her passion with Yemen. It was Pier Paolo Pasolini who sparked it, with his 1971 documentary about the destruction of an old historical city. The relations between Italy, more precisely Venice, and Yemen go back much earlier in time.
On Hassan Fathy’s Footsteps
Samar Damluji invited the visitors to discover her architectural itinerary. She presented the four “stops” of her professional journey: architecture, Hassan Fathy, geometry and traditional techniques of construction. At the end of her first year of study in the Architectural Association (AA) in London, at the age of 18, she returned to Lebanon after deciding to stop her studies. Quite by accident, she read a book of Hassan Fathy and she realized that she had studied the wrong type of architecture. Fascinated by Fathy’s work and philosophy, she started to work with him, and she approached handicraft, urban planning, clay construction and the social dimension of architecture. The respect of cultural tradition in matter of construction is central, because “there is no frontier between the past and the future; in architecture, time does not exist.”
The “Geometrical” Stop
Samar Damluji explained her discovery of geometry through Issam el-Said’s book, The System of Geometric Design. She understood the place of geometry in Islamic art and architecture. For her, it was not a question of ornaments or decoration but one of proportion and universal order.
Architecture as Culture
A movie shows Samar Damluji’s commitment and work in the area of Hadramaout in Yemen. There, she acquainted herself with traditional architecture. Builders and foremen in action showed her how to use the three most important materials: cut stone, ground and slate.
An Audience Left Hungry
Despite her fascinating life, Samar Damluji’s presentation was kept superficial. The evocation of numerous projects and the projection of many images did not allow for an in-depth approach.
Perpetuation and Transmission of Knowledge
In order to convey knowledge about traditional techniques of construction and to restore traditional constructions, in 2006, Samar Damluji created the Daw’an Mud Brick Architecture Foundation. Actual foremen have difficulties finding builders, the latter being more interested in concrete construction. For Samar Damluji, it is wise to perpetuate the traditional architectural culture.
Salma Samar Damluji, Lebanon: architect, professor. British architect of Iraqi and Lebanese descent, Damluji, professor at AUB, graduated from the Architectural Association School of Architecture and The Royal College of Art in London. She worked with Egyptian architect Hassan Fathy (1975–1976 and 1983–1984). In 2008 she established with colleagues in Yemen the Daw’an Mud Brick Architecture Foundation in Mukalla, Hadramut and has been working there on earth construction and rehabilitation projects. Among many awards, she received the Global Award For Sustainable Architecture (2012).
Redaktion: Roderick Hönig (Hochparterre)
Produktion: Roderick Hönig (Hochparterre), Urs Honegger (Hochparterre)
Korrektorat: Beat Zaugg
Porträt Salma Samar Damluji: Cynthia Atoui
Copyright: Pro Helvetia & Hochparterre 2016
Hochparterre dokumentiert den «Salon Suisse» 2016. Als offizieller Medienpartner begleiten wir die Veranstaltungsreihe mit Hintergrundinformationen, Zusammenfassungen, Audiostatements, Bildern und Livestreamings. Der «Salon Suisse» ist das Begleitprogramm des Schweizer Auftritts an der 15. Internationalen Architekturbiennale – La Biennale di Venezia. Der «Salon Suisse» ist eine Initiative der Schweizer Kulturstiftung Pro Helvetia.
Hochparterre documente en exclusivité le «Salon Suisse» 2016. Le partenaire média officiel du salon suit la série d’événements au travers d’articles de fond, de résumés, d’enregistrements audios, d’images et de retransmissions en direct. Le «Salon Suisse» est le programme parallèle de la présence suisse à la 15e Biennale internationale d’architecture – La Biennale di Venezia. Le «Salon Suisse» est une initiative de la Fondation suisse pour la culture Pro Helvetia.
Hochparterre exclusively documents the «Salon Suisse» 2016 starting 1st june 2016. As official media partner Hochparterre provides multimedia background information with written articles, audiostatements, visuals and free live streaming of part of the «Salon Suisse» talks. «Salon Suisse» is a talks and event programme complementing Switzerland’s national participation at the 15th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia. It is initiated by the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia.