Lulu'at al-Sahra
Giza, Egypt
"Academic preoccupation with New Gourna Village has tended to overshadow the fact that several other community projects of various size and complexity followed after it, refining the lessons learned in that experience. Lulu'at al Sahara or, 'the Pearl of the Sahara', which was built a year after the construction of New Gourna was stopped, is perhaps one of the least recognized of all of these, located on a side road some distance outside Cairo on the Agricultural estate of Hafez Afifi Pasha. Originally conceived as a group of support buildings to serve the sizeable number of labourers and their families who were working on the estate, the community facilities that were designed by Fathy consist of housing and a mosque-madrasa that were intended to augment other structures already existing on the farm. For the housing component, six units are joined together by party walls and grouped around a common interior courtyard. This court, in turn, is only accessible at the corners in order to ensure the privacy of the residents within. Each of the houses is also planned around a smaller, irregularly formed inner court, with a long, diagonal stairway running along one wall up to two connected but ingeniously separate rooms above that interlock to face in opposite directions.

A guesthouse was also provided at the most remote corner of the cluster to be used by any of the families in the group who happened to have a visitor, or who had need of extra space during ceremonial celebrations. The community mosque and madrasa that Fathy designed for Hafez Afifi Pasha is a gem, and is kept respectfully pristine by its users. The drawings of this building that have been preserved document a design evolution related primarily to the location of the madrasa, and showing how a static axial position is changed to achieve a more dynamic, longitudinal relationship between the school and the mosque."


Steele, James. 1989. The Hassan Fathy Collection. A Catalogue of Visual Documents at the Aga Khan Award for Architecture. Bern, Switzerland: The Aga Khan Trust for Culture. 20-21.
Giza, Egypt
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Lulu'at al-Sahara
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