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TitleArchitecture for the Poor: An Experiment in Rural Egypt (Phoenix Books)
ISBN 139780226239156
File Size30.1 MB
Total Pages369
Table of Contents
1 Prelude: Dream and Reality
2 Chorale: Man, Society, and Technology
3 Fugue: Architect, Peasant, and Bureaucrat
4 Finale: Gourna Dormant
Appendix I: Cost Analysis of Labor and Rates of the Execution of Works
Appendix II: In-Service Training
Appendix III: Organization of Work
Appendix IV: Foundations
Appendix V: Brick Making
Appendix VI: Cost Analysis at the Moment when the Project Was Handed Over to the Ministry of Social Affairs
Document Text Contents
Page 184

163 SecondSeason:1946-47

istration and the local police major both of the threat and of the
measuresI had taken againstit. The Nile flood that year was an
unusuallyhigh one,but no oneattemptedto let it into New Gourna.



Although we had now securedpermissionon principle to pur-
chasematerialsandequipment,we had to start againfrom the be-
ginning by inviting tendersfor the supplyof straw. Thus it was not
until 15 October1946that we had the strawon the site and could
beginwork. We had permissionto buy threemore lorries, too, but
they did not appeartill much later; nor did our new and properly
qualified assistants,who had been appointedfrom the district of
Kena.All this time the new directorof the EngineeringSectionwho
replacedRustumwas mostobstructive.I wrote againand againto
him on urgentmattersconnectedwith Gourna-mostlyon the non-
appearanceof the lorries andthe assistants-andhe did not answer
one of my letters.

In spiteof theseannoyanceswork startedvery well, andwe built
mostof the marketplace,finished the khan, and redugthe'founda-
tions of the mosque.In November1946 I was informed that of the
L.B. 15,000allowed me for that seasonI had L.E. 6,831 left. We
had already bought most of our materials, and as our monthly
wage-bill cameto aboutL.E. 1,000, I reckonedthat we shouldbe
able to work for anothersevenmonths,until the endof June1947.
Then, on 29 December1946, I had a letter from the accountsde-
partmentsayingthat we had only L.E. 1,403 left (althoughI had
bought nothing since Novemberand had paid no more than one
month'swages)andwarningmethat if I contracteddebtsfor wages
abovethis amount,thedepartmentwould not meetthem. As it hap-
pened,I had alreadyspent more than that by the time the letter
reachedme, andanywayI could not just go out andtell everyoneto
down tools and go home.I wrote backcrossly,sayingthat we were
not playinga nurserygame,to startandstopwork everyfew weeks,
and that we had a numberof buildingshalf finished that could not
be abandonedin that state.However,we could not go on working
without money;so in January1947work cameto a standstillagain,
to be resumedin September.

The Pump

During this secondseasonI cameacrossa peculiarly nasty ex-
ample of an official using his position to blackmail a defenseless

Page 185

164 Fugue:Architect,Peasant,andBureaucrat

peasant.We hadfound that the hand-operatedpumpswe had been
using to supply water to the site could not supply enough;I there-
fore askedthe administrationfor an engine-drivenpumpunit. They
wrote back telling me that the engine and pump would cost L.E.
140 and the pipesL.E. 460, makinga total of L.E. 600. Sincethis
wasmorethanwe couldreally afford, I lookedaroundfor someway
of economizing. When it became known that I wanted pipes,
Ibrahim Hassanmentionedto me that he had about twenty meters
of piping on his land and thathe no longer neededit. He offered to
sell me thelot andto install it on the site for L.E. 45. I at oncecom-
municatedthis offer to the administration,and as usual they didn't
reply. I wrote a secondtime, and got a letter backfrom Mechanical
Engineeringsayingthat the price was very, very, very low-imply-
ing that the pipescouldn'tbe much good.

Two monthswent by, during which the administration,when it
replied to my lettersat all, told me that the requesthad to be seen
and approvedby the FinanceSecretary;they did not sendit on to
him though, and I was still without my pump, which was already
accountedfor amongthepurchasingswhich hadengulfedthe budget
of this year, and would be put on the next year'sbudgetif not pur-
chasedand installedduring the runningwork season.I was already
alarmedat theway moneywasbeingsquanderedby the bureaucrats
-in thematterof thethreelorries thatwe hadordered,for example,
we weretold we musthaveprivatelybuilt bodiesfor thematL.E. 200
a piecewhentherewereex-military bodiesbeingsold at L.B. 15 a
piece-soI wrote a letterpointingout that I wastrying to saveL.E.
415 of our budget,and repeatedmy threat that I would hold the
administration responsiblefor wasting the government'smoney.
This threatcausedthem to passon the requisition to the Finance
Secretary;just after this I was in the offices of the departmentwhen
an employeetheremurmuredto me that I would be wise to get the
pipesfor L.B. 45; as I hadsaidL.E. 45, I didn't understandhim at
the time, and thoughthe wastrying to be rude.

I went back to Gourna and noticed that Ibrahim Hassan,who
alwaysusedto makea point of comingto meetmeat the station,was
ominouslyabsent.Whenhedidn't showup all day, I sentsomeoneto
find him. The messengersaid he was in Luxor; so next day I sent
again, instructing the messengernot to come back without him.
Whenat last Ibrahim wasbroughtto seeme, he told me thathe had
withdrawnhis offer, which wasvery, very low, that the job of sinking
the pipesalonewould cost more than L.E. 45, and that the costof
the pipesthemselveswould be L.B. 700. I wasvery crosswith him,
but my reproachesfailed to move him, and eventuallyI decidedto
gethim to explainhis conductin public.

Page 368

131. Ouna
132. Parliamentof thePharaohs

Page 369

The photographsare by HassanFathy, with the exceptionof the
following: numbers21, 31, 36,38-41,44,45,59,63,72,78-80,86,
91,94, 102, 108-110,117, 118, by Dimitri Papadimou;numbers
by Hassia;numbers27,65,67,76, 96-98,by RogerViollet; num-
ber 81 by SelimBahari.

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