IS THE LOSS OF VERNACULAR ARCHITECTURE REVERSIBLE? THE CASE OF LAHUN VILLAGE IN EGYPT
In Fayoum, the largest oasis in the Egyptian western desert, the modern Lahun village was developed close by the ancient mud-brick Lahun Pyramid in the 19th Century. The architecture of Lahun village followed its ancestors’ architecture. Until 2003, a mix of mud and stone vernacular houses were dominant in the village. In 2010, 35% of the houses at Lahun main street, which leads to the pyramid site, were of mud brick/stone houses, the rest was replaced by high-rise concrete buildings. By 2019, little traces of the traditional vernacular dwellings survived a massive movement to concrete construction. In the last 15 years, the skyline of the village has completely transformed. Lahun’s loss of its vernacular architecture is not an exception, except in one case: Tunis village where a pottery school for locals, started 30 years ago, to change the future of Tunis, where traditional architectural techniques have taken an important place in contemporary constructions. What are the local needs when they decide to replace their traditional houses with concrete? What is the impact of the pyramid’s recent re-opening on the village? What should be learned from Tunis village? Could what remained from the aspects of the Lahun vernacular heritage be used to reverse the loss of the tangible architectural aspects? Is new architecture that is sympathetic to the traditional vernacular character of the village a solution?