TDSR 4.2 Spring 1993

THE POLITICS OF POSITION: INVENTING THE PAST, CONSTRUCTING THE PRESENT, IMAGINING THE FUTURE
Anthony King
WHY HISTORY: THE MEANINGS AND USES OF TRADITION
Oleg Grabar
DISCOURSES ON THE PRE-1948 PALESTINIAN VILLAGE:
THE CASE OF EIN HOD/EIN HOUD

Susan Slyomovics
CAIRENE TRADITIONS INSIDE PALLADIAN VILLAS
Khaled Asfour
CULTURAL CORRIDOR:
A PRESERVATION DISTRICT IN DOWNTOWN RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL

Augusto Ivan Pinheiro and Vicente Del Rio


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Volume 4.2
THE POLITICS OF POSITION:
INVENTING THE PAST, CONSTRUCTING THE PRESENT, IMAGINING THE FUTURE

Anthony King
The primary aim of this paper is to clarify some of the general premises and presuppositions organizing our discussions of “traditional dwellings and settlements.” It analyzes important qualifying terms such as tradition/al, modern/ity, culture and colonial/post-colonial, which are often used to specify or elaborate on technical concerns. The current importance of these terms owes much to the lasting impact of the colonial rupture. The terms embody an imbalance of knowledge that continues to allow the West to construct itself in reference to an “other” non-West, and so maintain control over it. As part of this process, architects may construct tradition as “other” to maintain the primacy of certain cultural paradigms. The analysis is meant to show how ordering and organizing terms and metaphors provide the means to wipe out, obscure or illuminate different representations of reality. A more open usage of terms and a greater awareness of their implicit positionality would allow us to sharpen the focus of our objectives and avoid the placelessness and timelessness which frequently characterize academic discussions.

WHY HISTORY: THE MEANINGS AND USES OF TRADITION
Oleg Grabar
Researchers of traditional environments can benefit from understanding the themes of their work in a historical context. Take the ideas embodied in the title of the 1992 IASTE conference. Reflection here reveals that “development” implies both the inevitability and the appropriateness of growth and the obligation to arrive at some logical value system for choosing what to retain and allow to change in any physical setting. “Tradition” involves two other ideas: the existence of a past of a culture which is dead and exists only as a memory, and the parallel existence of a body of beliefs that draw from that memory and facilitate judgments about “development.” One can immediately see that tradition and development are often incompatible; development can proceed only when tradition is “forgotten.” Nevertheless, it is only through traditions, real or fictitious relationships to half-forgotten and largely misunderstood pasts, that people recognize themselves. The value of a built environment, therefore, is a conglomerate of its actual physical existence and the historical memories and myths people attach to it, bring to it, and project on it from other, often distant, places. Considering the complex, contradictory nature of this process, is it not appropriate to imagine a bill of rights for built environments? A full historical consciousness of what tradition is may require that we go beyond local ideas of restoration and identify more universal moral norms to regulate our concerns.

DISCOURSES ON THE PRE-1948 PALESTINIAN VILLAGE:
THE CASE OF EIN HOD/EIN HOUD

Susan Slyomovics
The village of Ein Houd, located on the Carmel Mountain near Haifa, is one of the approximately four hundred Palestinian Arab villages that were evacuated during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. Renaming the village Ein Hod, Marcel Janco, a Romanian Jewish refugee artist who was one of the founders of the Dada movement, established an Israeli Jewish artists colony that architecturally preserved and renovated the pre-1948 Palestinian Arab village. This paper inquires into the expressive function of vernacular architectural space and its relationship to political discourse, the social meaning of Israeli Jewish renovation and preservation as an exercise of governmental power, and the contested architectural identity of the pre-1948 Palestinian Arab village.

CAIRENE TRADITIONS INSIDE PALLADIAN VILLAS
Khaled Asfour
To Arab architects and historians there is a demarcating line between “traditional” and “modern” dwellings in the Middle East that lies between the eighteenth and the nineteenth centuries. The apparent loss of the physical representation of the traditional dwelling after this time seems to have convinced many of them that the idea of tradition also ceased to exist at this time. But, if a culture decides to retain the modes of behavior and thought that pertain to the traditional house without retaining the house itself, can we not still term the outcome “traditional”? This paper argues that traditionalism is achieved when a reciprocal influence takes place between a society and its dwellings. This reciprocity can take into consideration the aspiration of a society towards new dwelling forms. The turn-of-the-century Cairene villa reflects this concept through the interaction of Palladian and Egyptian ideals. On the one hand, it show how Egyptians adopted the symmetric arrangement of the central-hall plan as a way to connote social prestige. On the other, it shows how they retained traditional ideas on family privacy, structure, and guest reception. Together, the two ideals produced a middle outcome, where foreign systems were welcome, but self-identity was not lost.

CULTURAL CORRIDOR:
A PRESERVATION DISTRICT IN DOWNTOWN RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL

Augusto Ivan Pinheiro and Vicente Del Rio
This paper concerns the first large-scale urban-design project in Brazil to deal with preservation and revitalization in the inner city. In protecting the cultural heritage while still encouraging new construction, the project has been successful in setting a new methodology for development control and in reinforcing the traditional character of a large area of downtown Rio de Janeiro. Within the framework of an overall design-review process, the project has made use of special land-use regulations, design guidelines, participatory and educational programs, and substantial tax deductions. Traditional architectural patterns and uses have been reinforced, and development pressure from large corporations has been alleviated. The project’s positive results and wide community support has encouraged the city to expand the original project area to include most of the historic downtown fabric and to carry out complementary programs for beautification, restructuring of vehicular circulation, and street animation. Semi-public and private investors have begun to recycle old buildings for cultural and commercial uses, and the downtown area is experiencing a comeback.

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