Mediterranean visual messages: the conundrum of identity, isms, and meaning in contemporary Egyptian architecture

Ashraf M Salama

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Egypt like many of the Mediterranean countries is an amalgam of influences. Its rich history and unique geographical position afforded many opportunities for the emergence of architectural trends and movements. This article presents a new positional interpretation of contemporary Egyptian architecture. It is culled from a spectrum of issues I have presented in several events and published in local and international conferences and trade magazines. However, it calls for a fresh look at the issue of meaning in architecture by critically analyzing the current status of architecture in Egypt through a reading of trends that emerged over the last decade. The article discusses the concepts of Mediterraneanism and Middle Easternism in association with the situation of architecture and urbanism in Egypt. A number of ISMS including postmodernism, historical revivalism, critical regionalism and confusing symbolism are identified and reviewed and representative examples are critically analyzed. The article concludes by outlining an approach for a deeper insight toward the understanding of meaning in Egyptian architecture.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)86-104
Number of pages19
JournalArchNet-IJAR: International Journal of Architectural Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2007


  • contemporary architecture
  • symbolism
  • identity
  • architectural criticism


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