Monastirli House
Giza, Egypt
"At first glance, this villa by the Nile may seem to recall the stylistic direction of the architect's work during the transitional period of 1937 to 1940, in such projects as the Villas Hayat and Heshmat, and yet, upon closer inspection, the house is more complex. The strong personality of the client, Mrs. Atiya Monastirli, wife of the then Egyptian Ambassador to Turkey, clearly emerges here, but Fathy's signature is equally evident. The siting of the house, for example, manages to make the most of an oddly shaped, triangular piece of land by placing utilitarian functions at a right angle to the main body of the house, along the base of the triangle, in order to create a feeling of enclosure in the entry court. The house itself gradually expands towards a large sitting room that is cantilevered out over the river and uses corner windows to make the most of the morning and evning views of the Nile. The entry sequence into the house, for guests, is also carefully controlled, bringing them away from the private zone in stepped sequence toward a formal reception space, covered with an elegant ornate plasterwork dome. The spaces related to guests, which are obviously very important to a diplomat and his wife, are equally graced with views of the river, but are set back from the shore in order to allow those views to be filtered through the palm trees in a garden outside. Such personal touches continue, culminating in an upper internal court that uses the apex of the plaster dome directly below as a fountainhead, and mirrors it in an open lattice pergola of extraordinary delicacy above.

Atiya Monastirli was especially fond of the residential architecture along the Bosphorus in Istanbul, and encouraged Fathy to visit there for an extended period to study it. This visit, which also meant a great deal to him because of his own Turkish background on his maternal side, undoubtedly influenced the design, as did several Ottoman palaces in Cairo, such as the extensive harem of the palace of Muhammad Ali on the Citadel which has since been demolished." (Constructed)


Steele, James. 1997. An Architecture for People: The Complete Works of Hassan Fathy. London, United Kingdom: Thames and Hudson.
Saqiyat Mekki, Giza, Egypt
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