Hassan Fathy and Continuity in Islamic Arts and Architecture: The Birth of a New Modern

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Through his path-breaking design documents and built projects, Hassan Fathy, the Egyptian architect known for his recognition of the potential of vernacular forms, single-handedly sought to reintegrate the artistic traditions of Islam with contemporary design. Ahmad Hamid here identifies questions about the nature of Islamic art and its building culture, analyzing the rise of an assumed opposition between traditional and modern concepts. The subsequent reemergence of Islamic art and architecture as a vital force within the modern world followed the establishment of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture as a discussion platform dedicated to the built environment within present Muslim societies. In the light of this reawakening, and incorporating Fathy's seminal work, the author projects the socioeconomic, environmental, psychological, and esthetic components onto a new critical theory of modernity for the 21st century, neither western nor eastern exclusively.