TDSR 27.2 Spring 2016

27.2 TDSR CoverEditor’s Note

The Politics of Self-Help: Women Owner-Builders of Grameen Houses in Rural Bangladesh
Adnan Morshed
Bureaucratizing the City: Moderated Tribalism, Regime Security, and Urban Transformation in Amman, Jordan
Eliana Abu-Hamdi
Architecture as a Tool of Editing History: The Case of Saudi Arabia’s King Abdulaziz Historical Center
Sumayah Al-Solaiman
The Cinematic Cairene House in the Cairo Trilogy Films
Shaikha Almubaraki
Reinventing Vernacular Traditions to Reveal National Identity: A Case Study of the “Macedonian Village” [Field Report]
Velika Ivkovska

Book Reviews


Editor’s Note

The Politics of Self-Help: Women Owner-Builders of Grameen Houses in Rural Bangladesh
Adnan Morshed
In the mid-1980s, Grameen Bank, Bangladesh’s well-known micro-credit institution, developed a subsidiary housing loan program that targeted poor but enterprising rural women who were willing to replace or upgrade their dilapidated huts. The loan program was driven by two interrelated ideological goals. First, the bank advanced the concept of owning a dwelling not only as a basic human right but also as an empowering tool for impoverished rural women. Second, it promoted the idea of self-help as freedom — an individual’s freedom from poverty, social marginalization, bureaucratic top-down models of development; ultimately, his or her freedom to choose. In its focus on rural homes and their owner-builders, the bank subscribed to a neoliberal attitude toward development based on micro-credit as an instrument of self-help. Yet it also criticized neoliberalism’s market-oriented, materialist foundation by invoking an idealist argument concerning human capital development, bridging production of domestic space and social empowerment. Building on the British architect John F.C. Turner’s philosophy of self-help housing as “freedom” and the 1998 Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen’s insight that ethically driven social programs empower women most effectively, this article examines how a micro-lending organization’s complex attitude toward housing complicates the discourse of “traditional” dwellings in the context of rural Bangladesh.

Bureaucratizing the City: Moderated Tribalism, Regime Security, and Urban Transformation in Amman, Jordan
Eliana Abu-Hamdi
Throughout his reign, King Hussein worked diligently to ensure both the autonomy of Jordan and the security of the Hashemite monarchy. To accomplish this, the Jordanian state attempted to dismantle established systems of tribalism, redirecting allegiance toward the monarchy and its modernization efforts. While presented as progress, modernization reinforced Hussein’s authoritarian regime through the mechanism of royal patronage, creating a neopatrimonial system that thrived off the allegiance of a co-opted, pro-monarchy tribal elite. Key to this effort were bureaucratic systems, such as the Greater Amman Municipality, which limited the reach of the tribes and their elite by dismantling the village councils that had previously controlled development in and around the city. Additionally, the 1988 Master Plan for Amman proposed a new satellite city as the prototype for a modern way of life outside the network of tribal communalism. Though ultimately short-lived, this period of modernist planning had an important impact on the territory of the city, and on traditional forms of development authority that persist today.

Architecture as a Tool of Editing History: The Case of Saudi Arabia’s King Abdulaziz Historical Center
Sumayah Al-Solaiman
The King Abdulaziz Historical Center (KAHC) is a culturally significant project in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in which architecture has been used to rewrite national history. The center partly sits on the site of the historic Murabba’ Palace, home to two generations of the Saudi royal family, and its construction reflects two important concerns. On one level it expresses the agency of the client, the Arriyadh Development Authority, which formulated a project brief calling for the removal of all foreign design elements from the palace grounds and a return on the site to a pure vernacular Najdi style. A second level then involved the design and construction of the National Museum and Darat al-Malik Abdulaziz, two major new structures that reinterpret this regional style. This article discusses the design process that created these two buildings, which have taken remarkably different paths in pursuit of the same nation-building agenda.

The Cinematic Cairene House in the Cairo Trilogy Films
Shaikha Almubaraki
Films produced within the Arab world, particularly by Arab filmmakers, provide a window into social life and its transformation from tradition to modernity. They also serve as an important medium for the analysis of Arab domestic space, since the camera’s imaginary eye can pierce the interior world of the family in ways that may otherwise be guarded by silent walls. This article examines the formation and transformation of spatial and social relationships over time in Cairo as articulated by the director Hassan Al Imam in his adaptation of Naguib Mahfouz’s Cairo Trilogy. Mahfouz’s novel, composed of three volumes — Palace Walk [Bayn Al-Qasrayn], Palace of Desire [Qasr Al-Shuuq], and Sugar Street [Al-Sukkariyya] — famously depicts the life of a single Cairene family during the period 1917 to 1944. Al Imam’s films, in turn, use Mahfouz’s stories to visually explore the traditions of middle-class Cairene life and the changing nature and content of the Arab house. The article examines how the films’ mise-en-scène and décor critique traditions of hyperpatriarchy, subjugated femininity, and haptic interaction. Their deliberate exaggeration of changes in domestic space articulate a clear distinction between ideas of tradition and modernity in the domestic landscape of the time.

Reinventing Vernacular Traditions to Reveal National Identity: A Case Study of the “Macedonian Village”
Velika Ivkovska
To promote a new sense of national identity, the Republic of Macedonia recently commissioned the design and construction of a “Macedonian Village” as part of a wider “Skopje 2014” project for its capital city. Sourced through a design competition, the village, which has yet to open, seeks to use Macedonian heritage and vernacular architecture to promote tourism. This report reviews the project and critiques the authenticity of its representations. It further interrogates the meaningfulness of such reinventions of tradition as sites for the consumption of instant touristic experiences.

Book Reviews
Modernization, Urbanization and Development in Latin America, 1900s–2000s, by Arturo Almandoz
Reviewed by Clara Irazábal

Heritage Planning: Principles and Process, by Harold Kalman
Reviewed by Montira Horayangura Unakul

Mapping the Global Architect of Alterity: Practice, Representation and Education, by Michael K. Jenson
Reviewed by Eunice Seng

The Design of Frontier Spaces: Control and Ambiguity, edited by Carolyn Loeb and Andreas Luescher
Reviewed by Diana Maldonado

Assembling the Centre: Architecture for Indigenous Cultures, by Janet McGaw and Anoma Pieris
Reviewed by Paul Memmott

Photographic Architecture in the Twentieth Century, by Claire Zimmerman
Reviewed by Vandana Baweja

Architectural Agents: The Delusional, Abusive, Addictive Lives of Buildings, by Annabel Jane Wharton
Reviewed by Dietrich Neumann

The Architecture of Home in Cairo: Socio-Spatial Practice of the Hawari’s Everyday Life, by Mohamed Gamal Abdelmonem
Reviewed by Heba Farouk Ahmed

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