Harraniya Weaving Village
Giza, Egypt
"The Harraniya Crafts Centre is a third community project, which like those of Lulu'at al-Sahara and Garagos, is much less well known than New Gourna, yet represents an important member of the group of examples of this typology designed by Fathy. Carried out in collaboration with the architect Rarnses Wissa Wassef, and the Ministry of Scientific Research, the centre was based on a dual belief in the natural creative ability of children and the need for the material self-sufficiency to allow that natural creativity to have free rein. As the son-in-law of the famous educator Habib Gorgy, who first promoted these ideas in Egypt, Ramses Wissa Wassef became intrigued with the concept of an utopian, self-contained weaving village in which Gorgy's theories could be tested. Along with Fathy and Hamid Said, Wassef also believed in the critical importance of reviving national, traditional crafts in the face of the threat of expanding industrialization.

The essence of the village, which radiates out from a man-made lake at its apex, is the reciprocal relationship between the housing units and the fields next to them. These fields, which were intended to sustain both the sheep from which the wool for the weaving would be taken, and the plants that would yield the natural dyes to colour them, symbolically alternate with the houses in which the young weavers live. In this way a repeating rhythm of protected agricultural areas and contained pedestrian streets is set up by the interlocking lines of the houses between them. The direct contact between the houses and the fields also allows the farm animals to be brought into the interior of each house, which is an important factor in rural Egypt, and was first attempted by Fathy in his design of the houses in New Gourna. As the plan progresses from the green agricultural perimeter towards the lake at its apex, it becomes more and more public in function, and this is where the majority of the facilities for weaving, selling, storage and shipping are located. Although never realized in the form documented here, the Ramses Wissa Wassef weaving village was finally built in Shabramant near Harraniya, and was the recipient of an Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 1983. The extraordinary tapestries woven by the children there have become the pride of Egyptian contemporary art, and are now exhibited in galleries throughout the world."


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, 22.
Harraniya, Giza, Egypt
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Harraniya Craft Village
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urban design and development