Citation
The change of Damascus

Material Information

Title:
The change of Damascus
Creator:
Kallas, Samer
Publication Date:
Language:
English
Physical Description:
128 leaves : illustrations, maps, photographs (some color) ; 28 cm

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Historic buildings -- Conservation and restoration -- Syria -- Damascus ( lcsh )
Urbanization -- Syria -- Damascus ( lcsh )
Historic buildings -- Conservation and restoration ( fast )
Urbanization ( fast )
Syria -- Damascus ( fast )
Genre:
bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )

Notes

Bibliography:
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 127-128).
General Note:
Cover title.
General Note:
Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree, Master of Architecture in Urban Design, School of Design and Planning.
Statement of Responsibility:
Samer Kallas.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Colorado Denver
Holding Location:
Auraria Library
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
20858311 ( OCLC )
ocm20858311
Classification:
LD1190.A73 1988 .K34 ( lcc )

Full Text
THE UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO AT DENVER SCHOOL OF ARCHITECTURE AND PLANNING
THE
CHAWSE
or
bAHASCUS
SAMER KALLAS
1988


I
This thesis is submitted as partial fulfillment of the requirements for a Degree of Master of Architecture in Urban Design at the University of Colorado at Denver, College of Design and Planning, Graduate Department of Urban Design.
Thesis committee: Chairman Second member third member


AKNOWLEDGEMENTS
I would like to thank the following persons at the University of Colorado-Denver for their unvaluable guidance and advising: Professor Harry L. Garnham, director of the landscape architecture and urban design programs, and Assistant Professor Gail W. Earn, professor of landscape architecture and urban design.
My thanks go also to Professor A.K.Rafek, Professor M. K. Faress, Professor N.Kallas, at the department of history, University of Damascus. I am also thankful to my mother and my brother Mazen for their great encouragement and help in providing the numerous references without which this work could not be done.
1


TABLE OF CONNTENTS
1 . Acknowledgements........................................... 1
2. Table of contents............................................2
3. Introduction.................................................4
4. The natural context..........................................6
5. Chronology...................................................9
6. The urban evolution.........................................13
7. The physical morphology.....................................36
8. Climatic adaptation.........................................63
9. Aesthetic values............................................78
10. The winds of change.........................................93
11. Proposals for solution.....................................113
12. List of illustrations......................................12?
13. Bibliography...............................................127


One of the values I cherish most and would want to preserve or restore is a sense of place and permanence. This is what we cherish in the old world; the lack of it appalls us in the third world.
Jack Lenor Larsen Designer
Any city is only the sum of its people. The way it looks, the way it sounds, the way it moves, the way it changes, the way it shapes its people, the way its people shape it.
As we change and we always change I would like to see the best of our cultural values unchanged.
A city pleasing to see and hear, a city that moves its people writh civilized understanding of their needs, a city that knows that the best of our past and the best of our future can live comfortably together as neighbors in a city big enough for the best of every thing.
Bess Myerson
Commissioner of cultural affairs. New York City
I
3


INTRODUCTION
The ancient city of Damascus is a unique historical site that provided during 4000 years a lot of outstanding architectural solutions, and met the needs of Damascus residents.
As any other city experiencing the urbanisation boom of the twentieth century Damascus today is changing rapidly in character. Its old quarters are facing a great challenge of existance. The real danger comes from the modernisation of construction methods, the expansion of the new quarters of the city, and the lack of maintenance of the old tissue. New urban patterns and forms are resulting, and a great change and alteration are finding their way to the old "intra-muros" urban pattern.
During the last ten years there has been a growing awareness among Syrian architects and planners about the necessity to preserve the historical old quarters. Many studies have been done and a lot of seminars have been held to deal with the problems from which the city is suffering. A first seminar dealt with the touristic, historical, and social importance of the old city. A second one focused on the difficulties the city is facing in coping with contemporary issues.
4


among the problems stated were the intrusion of light industries and vehicles, the wear and tear of old houses, and the need of preservation policy. But none of these efforts made reference to the change by itself. What is the nature of change? How the city is changing? What are the causes behind it? are the results positive or negative? Is there any threatened "spirit of place"? What is the essence of such a spirit and, what is the uniqueness of Damascus? Could we by answering these questions find any propositions, methods, or design policies for future solutions and applications?
In my belief, understanding the way the city is changing, the nature of change, and its causes, would be of great help to find a policy for both preservation of old quarters and designing new quarters in a way that retain the spirit of place Damascus had enjoyed for centuries. such policy should seek the integration with the old patterns of the city, and the compatibility with contemporary needs of modern way of life. But without understanding the old fabric and the current applications of modern building forms, and more precisely the transition from the old to the new, no sound solutions can be expected.
My intent in this thesis is, first, to define the spirit of Damascus, its essence, and its ingredients, and second, to define the problem of change, focusing on its physical facet, and try to explore its nature and causes, in a way that helps controling the change and relieving its destructive effects.
5


THE NATURAL CONTEXT
Damascus, the capital of Syria, and one of the largest cities of the Fertile Crescent, is located at a latitude of 33 21', a longitude of 36 18, and an altitude of 690m.(2280Ft.).
It lays at the south foothill of Mount Ivasseoon, in the valley of Barada River, amidst the Ghoota Oasis (fig.l).
While Mount Kaseoon dominates the whole landscape and give it a unique form, the Ghoota Oasis (which till the early 20th. century equaled the urban area in surface) supplies the city with fruits, vegetables, diary, and other agricultural products. the Barada River, with its seven branches (Yezid, Tora, Banyas, Kanawat, Barada, Derani, Mezzawi) is the "raison detre" of the urban and rural life as well. It traverse the city, freshen it, and then irrigates the Oasis and vanish between its trees.
These three features, the mount, the river, and the oasis are the prominent geographic elements that shape the environment around Damascus and give it its peculiar natural context (fig.2).
As a hinterland city east of the Mediteranean Sea, Damascus enjoys a mild dry climate. In summer, the maximal temperature is
6


relatively elevated. Its average in August is 27.7c. and reachs the maximum of 40c.(104 F). In winter, the average is 2.5c. (36.5 F) and rarely goes down under the zero.
The prevailing the fertile valley with its freshness
wind is the north-west wind that comes through of Barada River and moderate the temperatures
The remaining of the region outside thi but a desert, the fact that causes large di temperatures in summer and winter seasons, later that the vernacular architecture had compensate for extremes of both heat and co
s context is nothing fferences between However, we will see its own devices to Id.
i


Soufc# les b*n de Oamas par M Ecochard *t Cl* Co*ur
LA VOS IRRIGATED ay
raa 1 y end
E3 4 Tora
E2 6
53 5 CUraw^A
G3 3 Drrarw
C~3 2 Mezzawt
FIG.I TWF WATURAL COUTSXT OF DAMASCUS
FiG.2 TU£ HOOVTsTUC ms*, MD TH£ OXS>IS


CHRONOLOGY
Damascus is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. Its origin goes back in history for more than 1000 years. Its name is mentioned in the ancient Egyptian texts of the 18th Pharaonic dynasty as early as 1900 BC.
940 BC. Damascus became the capital of the Aramean kingdom.
539 It was dominated by the persians after several different invasions of Assyrians (732 BC under Tiglath-Pilaser III) and Babylonians (604 BC under Nebuchadnezzar).
333 The Greeks under Alexander the Great chased the
Persians out, and ruled Syria. After the death of Alexander, Damascus became a part of the Hellenistic world under the Sellucid dynasty.
64 BC Damascus became a part of the Roman colony of Syria, and entitled by emperor Hadrian as "Metropolis".
AD 395 The Roman empire was divided and Damascus belonged
9


to the eastern Byzantine empire.
621
635
660
750
968
1070
1098
1149
The persians occupied Damascus for fifteen years.
The Muslim conquerors reached 'Damascus, and the Arab period began.
Damascus became for a century the capital of the Umayyad Arabic dynasty, and the Islamic empire reached its widest boundaries.
The ruling power transfered to the Abbasid dynasty who took Baghdad as capital. Damascus declined in importance.
The Egyptian Toulonid and Fatimid dynasties dominated.
Damascus is submissive to the Seldjoukid and Atabekian dynasties that produced two great rulers: Noureldin and Saladin the Ayyoubids.
Jerusalem falls in the hands of the Crusaders, and Damascus recieves the Palestinian immigrants.
Damascus besieged partially by the Crusaders under Conrad III, king of Germany, and Francois VII, king
10


of France.
1174
1259
1260
1400
1516
1832
1918
1920
The Ayyoubid period began under Saladin, and Damascus is again of great importance.
The Egyptian Mamlookid dynasty dominated till 1516.
The Mongulians invaded Damascus under Hulagu.
Tamerlan the Mongulian occupied Damascus for a month, and then defeated by Sultan Zaher Beebers the Mamlookid in the battle of Ain Jalute,
Palestine.
Damascus is a regional capital under the domination of the Ottoman empire.
The Egyptian Mohammad Ali occupies Syria till 1840.
The Ottoman empire lose in the first world war,and Damascus is freed.
The declaration of the Arabe kingdom under King Faisal from Damascus. But the treaty of San Remo had stated that Syria should submit to the French mandate. After the battle of Maisaloon (a suburb of Damascus), The French army entered Damascus, and
11


the French mandate began in Syria.
1926
1946
The Syrian revolt reached Damascus, and the French army bombarded parts of the city.
The independence.
OWE OF THE OLDEST PL/S^S OF DAMASCUS, DRfcJJO iw I<572..
12


THE URBAN EVOLUTION
THE ARAMEAN PERIIOD:
Little is known about the urban pattern of Damascus during the Aramean period. But according to some archaeological discoveries and topographic surveys,it is believed that the city had a temple for the Aramean god Houdod at the same location of the actual Umayyad Great Mosque. A small hill at the south part of the old city is supposed to be the core of the Aramean Damascus that became the nucleus of the urban development. The superposition of dwellings that overlie this hill in the present detain any further excavation. Nevertheless, by revising the patterns of other cities that existed at the same time in the Fertile Crescent, we could presume that the streets in Damascus were narrow and winded (fig.3).
THE HELLENISTIC PERIOD:
Under the Greeks the city expanded toward the east.
There was a need for new quarters in order to house the newcomers. the plan provided a network of streets and insulas in the form of gridiron, and consisted of an Agora and a theater (fig.4).
Contrary to the congested Aramean city, the new quarters were
13


spacious and low in density, the fact that attracted more people to them, especially the Nabathean Arabs of the south who gradually dominated and took Damascus for a capital in 87.
THE ROMAN PERIOD:
The Roman period was a period of prosperity. The city was entitled by emperor Hadrian as "Metropolis", and witnessed a number of large projects. A system of water supply was constructed to provide drinking water from Barada River.
The Romans adopted the Greek plan and extended it. They surrounded the city with a fortified wall that included an area of 105 Ha (262.5 acres). It had three gates from the north, two from the south, and one from each the east and the west. Like any other Roman plan, there was two major perpendicular streets: The Cardo and the Decumanus. The latter related the two gates of east and west together, and was 1500m.(one mile) long and 25.50m. (28 yards)wide, with arcades and shops at each side. the former was of 750m.(half a mile)in length, and led to the Agora. The Aramean temple of God Houdod was converted to the temple of Jupiter of Damascus, one of the most famous temples in that time. Parts of its monumental entrance with its pediment are still existing. Another wide arcaded street related the temple with the Agora (fig.4).
During this period St.Paul came to Damascus and spread the Christianity there. The early Christian gatherings took place in
14


the underground catacomb of Hanania (the first priest in Damascus). Meanwile the great architect Appolodorus of Damascus reached Rome and became the architect in charge of the Roman empire under the emperor Trajan (fig.5).
THE BYZANTINE PERIOD:
No remarkable urban change occured during the Byzantine period. In AD 325 Constantine recognized Christianity and made it the official religion of the state. Subsequently, all the temples had to be converted into churches. Thus, the church of St.John the Baptist replaced the temple of Jupiter in Damascus.
THE UMAYYAD PERIOD:
The Umayyads inherited the rich Byzantine architectural elements and incorporated them with the new invented Islamic forms. The Umayyad Great Mosque in Damascus, built in 705 -to be the most wonderful building in the world, as the Caliph ordered- using parts of St.Johns church, is a prominent example of such incorporation (fig.6).
It was a period of urban flourishment. Damascus Was the capital of the large Islamic empire which reached Spain in the west and India in the east. A lot of new palaces were built inside and outside the walls, and the city expanded inward and outward. The walls were maintained, and some new water canals were constructed. The gridiron pattern of streets began to lose
15


FI6.3 THE EVOLUTION OF EAHSSC US


F(6.4 DAMASCUS DCCM3 rWC HFUEA/ISTKT AVD RDMiW PfPIODS
5 The. uUDE^GftOUWD CATACOMB OF MANAMA


I
S.Ki
F/6.6 TME (JMAYX4D (SREAT MOSQUE OF DAMASCUS.


its regularity. (according to Wultzinger and Watzinger, the change of the grid began as early as the Byzantine period).
THE ABBASID AND THE FATIMID PERIODS:
The transferance of power to the Abbasids in Baghdad, and the reciprocal aversion between the two dynasties of Abbasids and Umayyads led to a period of trouble and oppresion in Damascus. The palaces of Umayyad Caliphs were demolished and, in order to weaken the resistance of populace, the city walls were destroyed.
The domination of Fatimids -two centuries later aggrevated the situation. A lot of fires ignited, and the inflammable materials of construction (wood, straw, clay) made every small ignition become a real disaster. The residents had to rebuild their homes over the ruins, without any coordination or interest in the common welfare.
predicting the return of Abbasids, the Fatimids re-erected the walls (in clay first and then in stone)in the Xth. century, following a new plan that had a weak relation to the old Roman walls, and included four (or maybe five) gates. New quarters, of semi-rural character (Oqueibee, Shaghoor) were formed outside the walls. And that, for sure, is not a sign of vitality but because the rural population sought refuge within the city walls in cases of danger.
19


According to J.Sauvaget, the primordial factor of urban evolution during these three centuries of .anarchy was the "insecurity". The people were uncertain of the future, and found their own protection through the mutual aid. And that provoked a real "dislocation of urban center". Henceforth, the city is a juxtaposition of quarters forming insulated compartments and each, living aside its particular life. Each quarter was a miniature city, with its own mosque water supply apparatus, public bath, and small souk (market)(fig.7).[15]
From an urban point of view, the quarter distinguished radically from the Greco-Roman insula; In the antique city, the circulation and the access to the dwellings occured in the same street. From now on, only a certain limited number of arteries allows the free circulation, and it is not from these arterises that the dwellings were served. There are alleys that branch from the main artery, where a gate prohibit the access every evening and night, and in times of trouble as well. In turn, these alleys ramify to cul-de-sacs that also close by gates and on which the entrances of dwellings are opened. In this way every house was exposed to the street with its rear blind facade, and was unpenetrable unless we pass the three successive obstacles of gates, the fact that provided a relative security (fig.8).
Another procedure of security was at the city scale. The use of city gates that had more than one arch was confined to the
20


smallest one and the others were closed up in order to provide more protection. This meant actually that the right of way of the thoroughfares behind the gates was tightened, the fact that caused the projection of lateral constructions, especially in the commercial sectors such as the Decumanus wich lost its spaciousness and regularity, and became about six meters (18Ft.) wide (fig.9). It is to this period that the origin of the actual organic plan of the old city belongs (fig.10).
THE AYYOUBID PERIOD:
Another period of prosperity began with the arrival of Noureldin and his nefew Saladin to the power. Under Noureldin a citadel was built in the north west to protect the city from the danger of Crusaders (who threatened Damascus twice:in AD 1129 and 1148) and others. The walls were fortified (12th.century) and equiped with several circular towers in addition to new gates. A hospital (of wide reputation in its time), juridical court, public baths, mosques, and many schools were constructed. Although it had a military aspect, Damascus became a religious and intellectual center.
In 1098 the Crusaders occupied Jerusalem. The emigrants coming from Palestine to Damascus settled at the foothill of Mount Kaseoon and formed a remote quarter (Salehieh).
After the death of Noureldin, Saladin succeeded him and began large construction projects. The citadel was rebuilt completelly
21


(AD 1206) to accomodate the new military needs, and a new city wall was erected (13th.century) to include the north parts of the city. It seems that a renovation plan for the walls intended to surround the whole city, but the works were interrupted by the invasion of Hulagu (1260), and had never been continued. It is estimated that, during the period of Saladin, more than one hundred buildings were built. Damascus expanded toward the north, west, and south. The ethnic followers of Saladin (the Kurds) formed a new quarter beside the Salehieh, at the foothill of Mount Kaseoon. And both, the Salehieh and Kurds quarters began to extend toward the original city.
The souks (markets) in the "intra-muros" extended from the straight street (the Decumanus originally) toward the Umayyad Great Mosque wich was the center of the public life. Since it was a period of horsemanship, an "extra-muros" horses market was founded by the north tower of the citadel (fig.11).
Outside the walls two hippodromes, one at the east (the green course) and one at the south (the pebbles course), provided open air fields for the recreation (Polo and horseback riding) of both governors and citizens.
Becoming a political, commercial, industrial, strategic, intellectual, and religious center, Damascus collected all the caracteristics of a great city.
22


OVEN
RESTAURANT
fOfikJf TUR£
BUTCHERS
TOBACCO
R6.7-QUARTER'S SOUK A-Umayyad Great Mosque. B-Carperters souk.
FI6.8 QUARTER
A-Houses without direct access from the public street.
B-Houses wi th fac;*des on the street, hut accessed from the cui-de-sac.


RG.^-THF STRAIGHT" STREET (JXCVHlWS) lU XlXfU.


fig io plaw of the old ary of Damascus (streets' pat tern. 1924)


0 >'X'X'-6)IMI^a 'JL3WVW S1SV0H 3HL~llS>ld


THE OTTOMAN PERIOD:
After the destructive invasion of Mongols (Hulagu in 1260, and Tamerlan in 1400), the city flourished again for a short period under the Mamlookids, and continued its expansion outside the walls. With the dwellings superimposed on the walls, and the new specialized souks, Damascus took the aspect of a medieval town. But in the mid fifteenth century, a general economic depression struck Syria and Egypt and changed all the historical and political circumstances in the region.
A new era began when the Ottoman Sultan Selim I conquered Syria in 1516. It is marked in Damascus by one of the most wonderful architectural complexes, built by Sultan Souleiman, son of Selim, in 1554. Souleiman Tekieh, as it is called, contained courtyards, pools, gardens, shops, a mosque, and a school (fig.12).
According to professor A.Rafek, the first fifty years of Ottoman rule in Syria were characterized by calm, a result of Ottoman might rather than acceptance of the new regime. The period witnessed the building of the finest Ottoman religious edifices in Syria, such as mosques, tekiehs, schools and water fountains. This type of building activity, a clear contrast with later buildings erected for commercial and family purposes, such as khans (caravanseraiIs), and palaces might be explained by the appointment of competent Ottoman governors who had played a prominent part in Ottoman military victories and wished to
27


commemorate those glories by erecting religious buildings in famous Islamic centers.[2]
The evolution of Damascus during this long Ottoman period was determined by the facts that concerned the empire as a whole.
Due to the central location of Syria within the Ottoman empire, Damascus was declared officially as the place of gathering for the pilgrimage to Hijaz (Saudi Arabia) and that, led Muslim pilgrims from the north, west, and east to gather in Damascus, where they formed the "Damascene Pilgrimage". This was one of twTo organized pilgrimages in the Ottoman empire -in fact in the Muslim world- the other being the "Egyptian pilgrimage", which were allowed to proceed to Hijaz. An average of some thirty thousand pilgrims gathered every year in Damascus and, till the end of the 19th. century, provided a major economic resource for the city (fig.13).
The active commercial movement they generated and the frequent arrival of caravans caused the erection of the numerous khans (caravanserails) that served as hotels and stores for the strangers. One of their finest types is the Assad Pashas khan, built in 1750 (fig.14).
Damascus benefited from the revival of commerce, and the foreign trade played an important role in its prosperity as well as in shaping its urban structures. Specialized souks multiplied and the location of each souk was determined by the type of
28


commodity it carried in relation to the major centers. All the commerce in relation to the pilgrimage situated on routes leading to the holy places in Hijaz and tended to grow enormously. They were inhabited mostly by merchants dealing with grain and animals. A camel market was formed, meanwile the old horses market lost its importance. The ancient fortifications were neglected, and the market of arms was located near the citadel. Quarters skirting the citadel were inhabited mostly by troops and those affiliated with them. Families of religious notables, lived near the great mosque or in the suburban quarters with natural scenery, such as Salehieh.
The Egyptian occupation of Mouhammad Ali from 1831 to 1840 was a turning point in the history of urban form of Damascus.
That is due, from one side, to the intervention of new preoccupations, particularly the hygiene and the circulation considerations, and from the other side, to the administrative reorganisation that brought about the construction of a number of specialized buildings.
Most of these buildings grouped on the vacant land the prairie (Al-Marjeh) at the west of the ancient city, by the Barada River bank. There was the House of Civic Administration, the Municipality, the Post Office, the Justice court, and a faculty. All gathered around a central open space and thus, formed the earliest square in western terms in Damascus: Al-Marjeh Square (fig.15).
29


The worriement of hygiene, with the management of new draining conduits, provoked the formation of new remote quarters at the foothill of Mount Kaseoon. The Mouhajereen quarter (immigrants quarter), the one regularly traced of them, was layed out to house new Muslim immigrants from Crete and some other countries.
At the turn of the century the linking road between these suburbs and the original ancient city (Salehieh Street),was built up at both sides. New missionary schools recently allowed to function helped actively the formation of an intellectual elite with western education. The European influence became well established and this had far-reaching results. The traditional forces from now on have to face the emerging forces of modernisation.
30


PLAN; OP THE TfTKIEH
C/ll TaiI cAm nuAiik TP't'ifiJ


PIG 13 DAHLSCEMf PlLGRiHkGE xx He.


SECT iO(d

first nook
FIG 14. kmfj OF ASSAD PASHA
Second floor.


R

^08 M
V* |


-* M v i f V
1/ (/(,


THE PHYSICAL MORPHOLOGY
THE URBAN PATTERN:
The irregularity of the traditional urban tissue is a prominent aspect of the internal organization that was often described as anarchic. It will be useful to examine whether the concept of anarchy can be sufficient to characterize the urban organization as a whole, or the urban structure of the city does represent an adaptation to a determined type of socio-economic organization, an adaptation that the internal logic of effectiveness explains its perenniality.
The most striking characteristic of the old city is its compactness. The historic fabric appear more significant than the few isolated monuments within it, important as they may be. One of the reasons behind this physical continuity is that single buildings were always conceived as parts of a comprehensive fabric, never as isolated structures, and that the consistent repetition and variagation of a number of basic architectural typologies produced the lively unity of built form which is so typical of the traditional pattern (fig.16).
In addition the city reflects through its organic plan multiple levels of organization. There is an identifiable
36


"IG.I6 TKE IWTRA.MURDS AMClAfOT C'.T/ OF DAMASCUS.


hierarchy of intricately linked functions, spaces, and movement systems from the scale of the city as a whole through that of small residential clusters to that of the front door.
A methodic analysis of the townscape elements and the urban components would be of great help to understand the morphology of the old city, define the ingredients of its character, and identify the essence of its uniqueness. Seeking a kind of typological identification, my analysis in this chapter will focus on the urban heritage as an existing situation, and limits itself to the physical perceptible urban form as a "status quo" resulting from the accumulation through the time of different types of buildings that each historical period contributed with.
TOWNSCAPE ELEMENTS:
The abundant features of walls, gateways, pathways, markets, mosques, landmarks, and homes contribute powerfully to the character and quality of everyday life. The linkages among destinations, the public spaces that accent them, and the private spaces have a level of social utility and significance. To reveal such a character, quality, utility, or significance in the old city it is necessary to begin with reading its plan in a systematic way. *
* SPATIAL ORGANIZATION: If we penetrate gradually in the city passing from what seems in the cadastral plans as a void, to what seems as solid, we first reveal the existance of a general
38


opposition between sets of linear configurations (streets), and sets conceived around a central space (courtyard) that determine the rules of organization and juxtaposition.
the opposition has a practical significance: the linear configurations are immediately accessible spaces. They serve the public side of life. The configurations of central courtyard are immune spaces that the access to is more difficult. They embrace the private side of life.
The segregation of private and public space within the city has its parallel in the relation of the city itself to the outside world. The boundaries between city and surrounding lands are well defined, and entry gates demarcate a very real transition.
* CITY WALL: The wall is the outstanding element that materialize the limits of the urban agglomeration and assure the safeguard of its population. This edge is an important organizing feature, that hold together the generalized areas of the city (f ig.17 ) *
* GATEWAYS: The element of gateways is one of the most important and occures at a number of scales. The most important aspect of the gateway is its image as a definable entry into a space. It evokes an expectation of something different, a set of ordering principles and evidence of spatial transition.
39


the gateways in Damascus occure within both natural and man-made environments. Approching the city from the west through Barada River Valley, the topography of Mount Kaseoon provides a nice natural mountain pass gateway that heighten a feeling of penetrating a different spatial system: The vast space of nature in which Damascus is set (fig.18).
It is the role of city gates to transfer us to another smaller system of space: the "intra-muros" urban space. Damascus still has some of its eight gates inherited from the Ayyoubid period (Bab'-Touma, Bab-Sharki Bab-Esshaghoor, Bab-keesan, Bab-Essalam). Each of these gates is now a node and its name became a reference name to the district to which it provides access (fig.19 ) .
* DISTRICTS: The main streets from the city gates to its center define identifiable quarters. Similar contributions of institutions within these districts, which are based on public services, marketing or special functions, establish the local identity.
At different levels of urban functions there are differences of building and public space scale as well. Functional clusters supporting the ordinary needs of everyday life which may exist singly in smaller settlements are likely to be extensively duplicated, providing definition and identity to the districts, communities, or quarters. As urban size increases, roads
40


converging at the center tend to define even larger districts. Each of these, as a result is further subdivided by its own systems of movement which define both the district center and lower-order sub-district.
A basic phenomenon in the city is the clear distinction between public districts of economic activities (city center) and the private residential districts (fig.20).
* STREETS: The distinction between private and public districts is reflected in the plan as two different types of circulation systems. In the center, where the active commerce is located, streets are wide, regular, and related to an uninterrupted network that extends to the limits of the city. In the residential districts, quarters are related to the main street network by a "collecting" path (darb). Another smaller network of alleys (zukak) flows into the collector. The alleys in turn ramify to cul-de-sacs (radb) that are not interrelated.
The existence of a double system of streets seems as a normal adaptation to one type of economic organization into which the essential activities were grouped in a central zone, and another type of social organization comporting with a certain segregation of the familial life, the zones preserved to the private life being relatively isolated and closed.
from this point of view, we can consider that certain aspects
41


FIG. 17 thf ary wall, £arlv xx -tU. c.
F(G.iQ-.im y&ru&AL Gateway or Damascusy i<*io\s


£
SK.&e
FIG.|q .THE CIT/ G&TfS.


>
FIG.20- TWE emrRU. AKJD 0£S\VENTAL D\STR\CTS.


of the general characteristics of the streets come very logically
from an organization perfectly c life of the city. The double st express faithfully the double st separation very strongly marked grouped in the center and the re segregation of familial life jus "anarchic" in its appearance.
oherent to ructure ructure between sidential t i f y a
the socio the stree the city,
of of
the economic functions. network that
-economic t network with its functions The
is just
As A.Lezine states it: "trying to understand the actual aspect of the old city, we should not miss the principal functions that must fill the city. First of all we expect from it that it assure an isolation of private life from any contact with the exterior. The cul-de-sac derives very logically from the type of housing in which we find it. The cul-de-sac is the logic element of the traditional urbanism of the old city. Its appearance is related to a type of housing in which the life is organized around an interior courtyard".[14]
The elements of regular streets that exist in the center and put it in communication with the exterior of the city, via the principal gates are sufficient to assure the requisite communications, the residential zones still being able, without any damage to the cohesion of the city, to be installed in closed regions to the exterior, but strongly related to the center, where the artisanal and commercial activities were located.
45


* CENTRAL DISTRICT: A direct result of the distinction
between public and private sectors was the intensive concentration of economic activities in the central district. The center is developed around a certain number of points: The Great Mosque, the shopping markets (souks), the exchange market (assagha),etc. A strong relation linked the markets with the Great Mosque, and both played an important role in the formation of the central pattern, meanwhile the political center (the citadel) had a limited role as a generator of urban form.
The central district is approximately rectangular and circumscribed from the north by the mosque, from the north-west by the citadel, and from the south by the straight street. In addition to the mosque and markets, the center constituted of a number of public buildings such as khans, public baths, and schools.
* THE GREAT MOSQUE: The mosque is the religious center where the Muslims practice their religious duties. Each quarter has its own local mosque that serves for the everyday prays. The Great Mosque plays a centrical role that comprehend the whole muslim community of the city. It is where all the residents gather for the friday pray, and meet for social communication. Actually, it is a socio-religious center around which the whole social life is organized.
The Umayyad Great Mosque in Damascus represents an original


prototype of mosques that influenced a lot of mosques architecture throughout the Islamic world. The plan is conceived around a large central courtyard, surrounded by arcades from three sides. With its dome and its three minarets, each with an exclusively different style, it contributes powerfully to the image of the city (fig.6).
* THE SOUKS: (the markets) All access roads radiating from the Great Mosque are bordered with merchandise activities. The souks are definitly the "raison detre" of the old urban agglomeration. They form the essential core of the city. Their basic composition unit is the shop cell. Shops in general are simple and easy to build. They are square in plan, measure five to six cubits in height, and four cubits in width, and often related to a storage place. The number of shops in the old city is roughly 6600 shops.
To generate a souk, shops could be set in a linear parallel repetition or around an enclosed central space (as in the Khans and tekkiehs). Each souk is specialized in one commodity, and accordingly is located in the urban pattern (fig.21). *
* KHANS: the essential economic functions occure in the khans that are situated in defined locations. The function of the khan might be described in the following:
- Lodging the strangers.
- Production of specialized handicrafts.
47


Warehouse
- Distribution of merchandise.
The earliest prototype of khans existed in Damascus and was composed of a central courtyard surrounded with a peripheral arcaded gallery on which the shops and stables are opened. The upper floor was reserved for lodging (fig.22). However, the unique type of khans is the beautiful Khan of Assad Pasha, \>7ith its large central courtyard and the four pillars holding its nine domes (f ig.14 ) .
* PUBLIC BATHS: In addition to their hygienic function, public baths provide a place for relaxation, recreation, and even social communication. In contrast to the ancient Roman public baths (Thermaes), they do not contain open air areas but, nevertheless, they have the same components; A Damacsene bath includes a dressing room (Apoditerium), cooling room (Frigidarium), warm room (Tepidarium), hot room (Caldarium), and anointing room (Unctorium) (fig.23).
The Architecture of baths seeks always the heat preservation. They are generally located on alleys and share party walls with adjacent buildings in order to save the heat. A bath has a simple small gate, and its street elevation is as small as possible since the inner function does not require windows. The rooms' are vaulted and the vaults include skylights or glass bubbles that provide day lighting (fig.24).
48


* SCHOOLS: the schools played a role of institutions for learning the Islamic laws and sciences. They are located in intermediate areas between residential and commercial districts. Most of the schools include either a courtyard or an atrium.
They provide public rooms where a group could meet, and private rooms where people could live or isolate. Fig. (25) shows an example of a school with a courtyard.
* THE CITADEL: the citadel stands now as a symbol of power and occupy a large area of the old city. But contrary to medieval cities, the citadel of Damascus is not the dominating center around which the town is developed. it is rather a lateral structure that gives, with its presence as a "guardian, a feeling of security (fig.26).
* TOMBS: The tombs of notable persons are often allocated a lot of land and covered by a domed structure. We can find them everywhere throughout the residential districts, and their architectural forms contribute apparently to the vernacular aspect of the city. Fig (27) shows two different types of these tombs. *
* RESIDENTIAL DISTRICTS:
I mentioned earlier that public and private spaces are organized according to a hierarchical arrrangement. The order is well reflected in the residential districts. At the largest scale is the "community". It in turn is composed of
49


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several "quarters which are themeselves composed of several "precincts. "Clusters" are at a still smaller scale while the lowest level in the spatial hierarchy is the "house".
The traditional Damascene house is conceived around a central open courtyard. The size and shape of courtyards may vary from one house to another according to the available land and the fortune of the owner. Their inner management gives its character to the house and differenciate it from other houses. The use of courtyard allows reducing and abolishing the corridors. It is in fact the basic organizing element for the whole design of the house. A master builder designing a house in Damascus would probably begin by placing the various courtyards in his parcel of land: a large family courtyard, or a "haramlik; a middle-sized, semiprivate courtyard, or "salamlik", where guests could be entertained; and one or two small courts to use as service areas. Each courtyard should, if possible, have its own entrance. The local architectural vocabulary would then call for an iwan facing north, a ceremonial room looking out onto the main courtyard, and a second ceremonial room opening onto the salamlik. The rest of the rooms would fill in the empty spaces around the courtyard, and secondary spaces, such as staircases and storage, would be tucked into any leftover areas (fig.28).
the courtyard performs a variety of functions; It allows traffic to circulate to various parts of the house; It serves as a family gathering place; It also brings the natural light to the
56


rooms (especially those of the ground floor), and helps cool the house (see next chapter).
in addition, the courtyard house and its clustering creates a physical setting that allows the following social requirements to be achieved:
- The privacy: The layout ensures visual privacy from outside or adjacent areas, yet allows members of the household to be in contact with nature via the court. The plan also ensures a high standard of acoustical protection by isolating the rooms from the noisy street.
- The interdependence: The organizational consequences of the grouping of courtyard houses necessitates a level of interdependence between neighbors with regard to the use and rights of party walls, maintenance of cul-de-sacs, problems related to rain and waste water. The interdependence is compatible with the social values as they relate to neighborly relations.
The basic composing unit in the tissue is a structure of rooms surrounding a courtyard, with an entrance designed to prevent direct visual access to the courtyard from the exterior. Each composing unit is a land property: The basic simple house model. Sometimes the assemblage of many basic units creates a larger property. In fact, we can classify in addition to the basic simple model- a middle class type, a large residence, and a palace, all generating from the same basic concept of the simple
57


house model (fig.29).
the basic composing units commonly used might be classified in the basic simplified archetypes shown in fig.(30a). They generally might be composed in three major different manners:
1- Parallel rows along a street. Fig (31a)
2- Parallel double rows along a street, the rear row being accessible through a stretch to the street. Fig (31b)
3- Clustering around a cul-de-sac. Fig (31c)
To release the logical structure lying behind the traditional urban pattern I chose the block shown in fig (30c) to be a subject of my analysis.
fi'rst of all we remark the street network composed of streets surrounding the block, paths, alleys, and cul de sacs.
Fig (32). the nucleus of the future development comes into being with the earliest houses to be erected. They form centers around which further houses, seeking benefit from existing walls, will cluster, fig (33). These clusters shown in fig (34) are based upon the three composition manners I already mentioned. A local mosque with some shops can be added to the complex. The basic composing units could be clearly defined and refered to the onces shown in fig.(30). Thus the cul-de-sacs are considered as semi-private spaces that belong to the adjacent clustering houses, and any intruder will not feel comfortable.
5 8


FlG.Z8.AZ PALACE IW DAMASCUS.
As seen from the plan, the large palace fits into the irregular pattern of the old city of Damascus, turning its back on its neighbors, and facing inward onto a number of courts, the most important of which is the haremlik.


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THE CLIMATIC ADAPTATION
Although the Barada River and the Ghoota Oasis play an important role in moderating the microclimate of the urban area, the fact that Damascus is located at the fringes of the Syrian Desert causes sharp contrasts in temperatures between summer and winter. Therefore vernacular architecture had to find its own devices to cope with the climatic conditions.
A basic principle for adopting buildings to extremes of temperatures is that the ratio of internal volume to external surface must be made as high as possible (fig.35).
Houses employing the courtyard concept have such climatic advantages, for they provide an open area protected from sun, wind, and dust, when they are clustered to share the same party walls, their exterior surfaces can be reduced significantly to provide further protection.
Furthermore, such architectural design of houses takes the advantage of the sun factor as a driving force for maintaining air movement. This technique is based on' the principle of convection; Warm air is less dense than cool air and therefore will rise in an environment of cool air. As it rises, the warm
63


air must be replaced by cooler air from the surroundings. If a heat source exists below the initial pocket of warm air, the cooler air replacing it will also be warmed and will rise. Using a continuous heat source, a steady flow of air is generated. In vernacular architecture, this effect has been exploited to produce small areas with cool breezes, using the ground heated by the sun as the heat source. As long as a large volume of cooler air is available and is unaffected by heat from the sun, the hotter the sun heats the ground, the stronger will be the breeze.
The cooling system in a courtyard house is based on this principle. As evening advances, the warm air of the courtyard, wich was heated directly by the sun and indirectly by the warm buildings, rises and is gradually replaced by the already cooled night air from above. This cool air accumulates in the courtyard in laminar layers and seeps into the surrounding rooms, cooling them. In the morning, the air of the courtyard, which is shaded by its four walls, and the surrounding rooms heats slowly and remain cool until late in the day when the sun shines directly into the courtyard. The warm wind passing above the house during the day does not enter the courtyard but merely creates eddies inside, unless baffles have been installed to deflect the airflow. In this way, the courtyard serves as a reservoir of coolness.
The configuration of narrow meandering streets is also climatically useful and perform the same function as a courtyard,
64


because cold layers of air could gather in them during the night and be retained throughout the morning from being swept out by the first puff of wind as would occure in a gridiron plan with wide boulevards. Streets often include cantilevered elements or galleries and rooms built across them. Thus they provide shade, not only for passerby, but for the house across the street. So the exposure of external walls to the sun's radiation would be limited (fig.36).
Since the commercial districts necessitate wider streets, the matter that provoke more exposure to the sun, all the souk streets were vaulted (fig.37).
The design process of houses was always aware of the thermal issues. All rooms adjacent to the courtyard are wide and not too deep. they have two kinds of oppenings, a lower level that includes windows and doors and an upper level of small windows to encourage the circulation of air and allow warm air to escape (fig.38). The corners of the plans are often occupied by the kitchens in order to alienate them from the heat. Other corners are occupied by staircases.
In the Damascene house, the fountain plays an important role. Apart from its refreshing effect physically, water has always had a pleasing psychological effect. furthermore, water is very important in increasing the humidity and thereby promoting thermal comfort. Therefore the people have always cherished
65


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FI 6.38 Section of a room in a large house in Damascus


water and tried to remain in contact with it as long as possible. The fountain is equivalent to fireplace in the temperate zones, although one is used for cooling and the other for heating.
Thus, the fountain is an architectural feature occupying a privileged place in the house plan (fig.39).
In most houses a bitter-orange tree is planted at the west side of the courtyard, against the wind direction, in order to make its scent emanate and fill the space.
In this way, the outside air passes through the courtyard where it is cooled and perfumed by the plants, pools, and fountains. The coolest air then pushs the warm air out through the upper opennings. Other relevant elements were often used in the ventilation system such as the wind-catchers (malqaf)
(fig.40).
Wind-catchers are shafts rising high above the building with an opening facing the prevailing wind. They trap the wind from high above the building where it is cooler, cleaner, and stronger and channel it down into the interior of the building. It could be still further cooled by passing it over water.
All houses constitute of Iwans at the south side of the courtyard (fig.41). An iwan is a recessed covered space open to the courtyard. Iwans in Damascus are always built to face north and used as summer rooms for family gatherings or guests
68


reception.
the courtyard is often bordered by galleries from one, two, three, or four sides, along one or two storeys according to the importance of the house. These galleries permit walking in the shadow in summer and sheltering from rain in winter. They equally reduce the insolation and the gain of heat inside the rooms (fig.42).
The loggia is a covered outdoor sitting area at ground level, opening completely onto the courtyard and oriented toward the south. In order to provide a dominating view over the greenary, loggias levels are often elevated in relation to the main courtyard level. Since they are places to spend the sunny daytimes in winter and the evening receptions in summer, they are deeper than galleries (fig.43).
roofs perform a range of domestic functions. They can be used to hang out washing and, in the evening, for social gatherings; They are usually surrounded by heigh parapets to protect their privacy from neighbors. If enough water is available plants are grown there to provide shade in the summer time, cut down the suns radiation, and make the area more pleasant at night.
The traditional windows or Mashrabiyahs provide daylight, ventilation, and a view to the outside, but in such a way as to
69


keep the inside of the house protected. They are kept small, compared to European fenestration, because less light is needed in a hot and bright climate (fig.44).
The Mashrabiyah was a device used in order to admit shaded light and air without revealing or destroing the privacy of the interior. It is a wooden lattice formed of turned bobbins in different forms, and used instead of glazed windows.
The internal arrangement of European houses is determined mainly by the necessity of protecting its inhabitants from cold. Chairs and beds were first introduced to provide protection from cold floors, and other peaces of furniture evolved from that requirement as well. Because the furniture required was often large and difficult to move, domestic spaces had to be specialized. In Damascus and other similar traditional arab towns, in contrast, adapting to the heat of the summer determined domestic habits, and people sat on the floor because it was usually cooler. They had little use of heavy and elaborate furniture, and therefore less specialization of space occured.
The same room could be used as living room, dining room, or bedroom as circumstances required. Equally, rooms of the upper floor used in the summer as sleeping rooms, serve in winter as living rooms since they are more insolated. Winter quarters are usually on an upper floor; summer quarters are on the ground floor, or even below ground, during some hours of the day and in the evening, on the rooftop. This internal accomodation to
70


season is easy because the rooms are not specialized in function. It is called locally "the seasonal inner migration", and it could be interpreted as two major movements:
- Horizontal: Simultaneously with the sun course on the facades, and at the end of daytime the inhabitants run away from hot rooms and refuge to the interior rooms.
- Vertical: According to seasons, the rooms managed at the last storey to benefit from the maximal insolation are mostly used in winter. In contrary, rooms at the ground floor are more fresh in summer.
Another side effect of the difference in furniching was that windows were placed lower down in the Damascene house than in western countries, to be at eye level for people sitting on the floor. similarly ceilings were built much higher than they were in Europe since hot air tends to collect in the upper part of a room, and that is an advantage only in a warm climate.
With little furniture, and cupboards, niches, and shelves dovetailed (fitted) in the walls, the rooms seem empty, and give a passive impression, the fact that gives value to the decoration of wooden roof, and the polychrome carpets covering the floor (f ig.45).
71



PIG. 39
A PAMASCHJE House. dqau>ing -XIX -i. C


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RG.44- VARIATIONS OF H&SUR&BlkHS.


FI 6 45 ~ DECORATED ROOFS RQOM JDAMASCShE F/OUSES.


AESTHETIC VALUES
It is difficult to define the "beauty". Even great philosophers like Kant, Schopenhauer, and Hegel had their different interpretations in describing it. However, the describtion given by Khalil Gibran in his novel, The Broken Wings, seems to me the most fittable to my subject since he grew up in the same environment and was impressed by the same aesthetic images. He says:
"Beauty has its own heavenly language, loftier than the voices of tongues and lips. It is a timeless language, common to all humanity, a calm lake that attracts the singing rivulets to its depth and makes them silent.
"Only our spirits can understand beauty, or live and grow with it. It puzzles our minds; We are unable to describe it in words; It is a sensation that our eyes cannot see, derived from both the one who observes and the one who is looked upon. Real beauty is a ray which emanates from the holy of holies of the spirit, and illuminates the body, as life comes from the depths of the earth and gives color and scent to a flower." [11]
The Orient was for a long time a source of romantic inspiration. It was considered during the Enlightment period in
78


Europe as the origin of beauty, charm, and wonder. This is reflected in the masterpieces of many poets and painters such as Goethe, Schelling, Schlegel, Logsdail, Lewis (fig.46),
Bauernfeind (fig.47), and Goodall (fig.48).
Actually there was a reason behind this admiration. We could trace it in the remainings of some urban images of old Quarters, traditional dresses, and handicrafts. There are certain aesthetic values hidden in the archways (Sabats), adobe walls, green pergolas, minarets, domes, and stone paved streets that define the'neighborhoods and spaces, and give them an intimate human scale and a wonderful sense of place
Some other elements contribute to the image of the city. We can find among them:
* SKYLINE AND LANDMARKS (HORIZONTALITY & VERTICALITY): The
simplicity and horizontality are the apparent features that dominate the cityscape. That is due to the typical flat roofs and the relatively constant height of houses(fig.49 ) In contrast with the horizontal skyline, some "events" of minarets and domes enrich the image and indicate the existance of a mosque or a public building (fig.50). *
* RYTHMIC DAYLIGHTING: Passing through a vaulted street, followed by an uncovered alley, with rooms built frequently over the street space (Sabats), a sequence of shaded areas and sun
79


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lighted wells provides a rythmic variation rarely experienced in other cities.
* THE ELEMENT OF SURPRISE: The meandering network of streets provides an interesting pleasant labyrinth of mystification.
With every corner-turning, a surprise of minaret, fountain, tree, or shop appears and makes the promenade full of views and vistas.
* INSIDE AND OUTSIDE: The architecture of Damascus is an "inward looking architecture". We have seen in the last chapter that most of the buildings are conceived around a courtyard. Tn fact, the courtyard is the only place where we could find decorated facades. The notion of this pattern might be a result of some socio-religious values; one of the essential values in Islam is emphasis on the "Batin" (inner aspect of self or a thing), and subordination of the "Zahir" (external aspect of self or a thing). For example internal goodness and well being are emphasised and arrogance discouraged. The courtyard is suitable for the application of this principle. Hence we find that the external walls are kept simple and relatively bare with few openings. The courtyard as the central important space is decorated when the owner can afford it to a high level of artistic sophistication, despite the fact that it is accessible to, and enjoyed only by the occupants, and occasionally their relatives and close friends. *
* MATERIALS: The sun-dried brick mixed with straw (adobe) is
83


the main material used for the construction of houses. The stone
is usually used for the foundations, raising about one meter above the street in order to create a belt of protection at the passerby level and prevent the corrosion of the base. In some houses the whole ground floor is built wTith stone. The remaining of the structure is composed of a wooden skeleton filled in with adobe (fig.51). The roofs are built by earth layed over a structure of wood beams. The entrances which have a lot of importance since they separate the interior world from the exterior and reflect the richness of the house, are elaborately done by stone. The stone is used generously in the buildings of importance and public use, such as mosques, baths, libraries, and khans.
* TEXTURE: The stone pavement of the streets, the plastered exterior walls, and the sophisticatelly decorated courtyards using different kinds of materials for the floor, wood works, and walls make the environment rich of a variety of textures.
* COLORS: The bright golden color of adobe prevails with the white stone color of the region. In some edifices colored stone layers (especially the black bazalt stone of the south) are used alternatively with white layers. They reflect a sense of scale and a lovely ornamentation upon the building. *
* CORNICES: In addition to their decorative role, cornices affirm the horizontality and indicate the limits of the property
84


(fig.52). They also protect the elevation from rain water and assureequally a role of brise-soleil (sun-breaker) in the summer.
* OPENINGS: The windows of the exterior elevation are rare at the ground floor. The upper windows are often equiped with wooden lattices (Mashrabiyahs) that accent and define the character of the street and give nice ambiences of light and shade to the inner space.
* REPETITION AND CHANGE OF LEVELS: The repetition of some architectural elements gives a kind of rythm to the composition. These elements are the upper windows, the cantilevered rooms over the streets, or the arched arcades. In addition the change of levels between one house and the other or between volumes of the same house enrich more the harmony of the set (fig.53). *
* THE MOOQARNASA: In order to transfer from the circular plan of the dome to the square plan of the building underneath a structural stone element called "Mooqarnasa" was invented and used widely. It is at the same time a structural and decorative element, and its function could be compared to the function of pendentifs in western architecture. We can find it over every public building's gate (fig.54). A unique example in the world is presented by the dome of Noureldin hospital, composed completely, from inside and outside, of mooqarnasas (fig.55).
85


* ORNAMENTATION: The widely used ornaments are often based upon geometric and botanic forms ( since the representation of man and animal is prohibited in Islam ). These sophisticated ornaments are seen in the wooden frames of some mosques windows (fig.56), or in the fitted-in mosaic of colored peaces of stone (fig.57), or in most pavements of large courtyards.
* OTHER SENSORY EXPERIENCES: The exclusive smell specialized souk fill the air with different odors o soaps, perfumes, etc. The crouds in the souks, with of vendors and their animals, and the "Moazin" call mingled with the churches bells complete a picture o awareness.
THE SPIRIT OF DAMASCUS:
The uniqueness of Damascus derives from the coordination of all the elements and ingredients we revieled in the past chapters. Each ingredient meets a precise need and, at the same time contributes to the city's organism as an important part of a whole urban scene. The most essential characteristic is the homogenous combination of these different objects into new composition. If the fabric is disrupted or destroyed, the sense of wholeness and consistancy of life vanishes, together with the physical coherence of the environment.
This wholeness of the urban scene is a physical expression of a certain style of life. The social, cultural, and religious
of each f spices, the sounds ing for pray f sensory
86


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values this life cherish are translated into architectural and urban patterns of cul-de-sacs, mashrabiyahs, public baths, and minarets. the aesthetic concepts are expressed by architectural styles, ornamentation, and the use of a variety of plants in the courtyards.
When we experience the harmony of volumes, solids, and cavities; the rythms of lights, shadows, and repetitions; and the variations of colors, textures, and forms, we definitely agree with Goethe that architecture is a frozen musique.
Furthermore, the city reflects a lot of historical values. Each building has its own story which indicate a different period of time. All these values and the way they have been expressed took place within a natural framework of unique features. The topography, climate, vegetation, water, and local materials provided the basis for a cultural evolution of human scale.
S.Bianca says: A city, and especially a historic center, contains the essence, or the "spirit of a culture; it acts as a collective memory for the society, it is an expression of shared attitudes and common patterns of life, and as such it is a source of identity and inspiration [1].
Professor H.L.Garnham states it in other ways: Since remote times man has recognized that different places have different character. This character is often so strong that it, in fact,
91


determines the basic properties of the environmental images of most people present, making them feel that they experience and belong to the same place. When these images are altered, destroyed, or otherwise removed from peoples daily lives the essential bond between person and place can be broken, with a subsequent tangible loss in the quality of life [8].
The survival of this traditional culture over hundreds and thousands of years indicates that it surely possess knowledge that can still be of great value either in its original form or as the basis for new developments. In fact the vernacular architecture not only solved the climatic problems but did so with a combination of beauty and physical functionality. And that is the secret behind the spirit of Damascus. If we want this spirit to survive and continue, we must agree with Professor H.Fathy that, in further development, architectyral form should be determined by spiritual, artistic, climatic, and social considerations as well as function, material, and structure. He emphasizes that due consideration must be given to a number of elements including harmony [7].
92


THE WINDS OF CHANGE
THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION:
Since the beginning of the twentieth century Damascus has submitted to the European influence. As a result of the alliance between the Ottoman and German Empires, the German engineers were involved in a number of railroad projects throughout the Ottoman territories. One of these projects related Damascus to Beirut, Lebanon and another one led from Damascus to Hijaz in Saudi Arabia. The first railroad station in Damascus -The Hijaz Station- was designed by a German engineer with the help of a Spanish architect and built around 1905 at the west side of the old city (fig.58).
In 1904 a Belgian company undertook the mission of lighting the streets electrically and introducing a transportation system of tramways (fig.59).
New wide straight streets were layed out to accomodate the increasing use of vehicles and to link the old and new quarters together. A main boulevard led from the -once existed- city gate near the citadel (called Bab-alnasr) to the Hijaz Station, and was called Alnasr street according to the gates name. Another boulevard -Alwaleed- led from the station to the south (fig.60).
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Subsequently new quarters were formed, with a European aspect.
A clear sign of the beginning of the modern technological age could be marked in 1914 by the landing of the very first airplane coming from Istanbul on a football field (fig.61).
The need for urban planning became urgent to cope with the growth of population and urban areas, to accomodate the increasing number of vehicles, and to provide modern public facilities. A first general plan was done in 1936 by two Frensh architects: Ecochard and Danger. The plan was based on the French planning principles of axial streets and radial squares.
Later on, in 1948 and 1967, the problem of Palestine brought more immigrants to Damascus and multiplied the population. Moreover, the concentration of all public and cultural centers, theaters, colleges, administrative buildings, etc., and the central.policy of the government located in Damascus the capital brought about a strong migration from the poor countryside and drew the rural population seeking opportunities of jobs and high wages to the promising city (fig.62). The following figures show the increase of population during the twentieth century:
1920 = 170,000 inhabitants 1955 = 408,000 inhabitants
1930 = 197,000 inhabitants 1960 = 530,000 inhabitants
1935 = 230,000 inhabitants 1970 = 836,000 inhabitants
1945 = 296,000 inhabitants 1980 = 1,400,000 inhabitants
1950 = 353,000 inhabitants 1986 = 2,500,000 inhabitants
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Additional needs emerged and necessitated large-scale projects to renew and enlarge the infrastructure of electricity, water supply, telephone networks, transportation, and, the most urgent, housing. The city expanded more and more, and the exessive urbanization threatened the Ghoota Oasis, the main resource of nutrition for the city. Speculation and competition found their way to the population under a sharp consumptive atmosphere. The residents of old traditional houses found it more profitable to tear down their flimsy adobe houses and build multy-story buildings based on "modern" standards of life.
Another general plan was conceived in 1968 by Ecochard and the Japanese Banshoya. In this plan the French influence persisted and the planning policy of subdivisions with exclusive planning ordinences for each area was adopted. The plan suggested a large vehicular traffic artery to surround the intra-muros city, thus isolating it from its contiguous organic context (fig.63). Another suggestion was to surround the Umayyad Great Mosque with a ring street of asphalt, which meant clearing the houses around it and uncovering its bare walls. Numerous other areas submitted severely to similar handling.
Unfortunately, the plan was implemented during the eighties (fig.64). Ironically a French architect says: "isoler un batiment cest violer lhistoire" (isolating a building is violating the history). The new highways are now bordered by high-rise buildings, and contain bridges and tunnels (fig.65).
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In fact the arrival of the industrial revolution has caused a
sharp alteration to the physical environment. Its effects, however, differ in Europe from those in the third world countries. For the industrial revolution, modernity, and the new technological age all started in the west, and the west therefore has been able to deal with them very well. But since they were not native to the nations of the third world, those countries have had great difficulties dealing with them; the sudden arrival of modern technology and industrial products has caused a lot of heterogeneous situations.
Hassan Fathy states: "With the advent of the industrial revolution, the inherited techniques and perfected knowledge of creating, using handmade tools, were lost and are now forgotten. Energy- intensive mechanized tools have diminished mans personal, cellular contribution to the fabrication of objects, the building of structures, and the growing of food. The lesser the challenge for man to imprint his genius, the less artistic is the product.
The resulting economic and political disturbances are visible today. Production of beauty, once the prerogative of millions, is replaced by industrialization under the control of a minority of owners. The negative consequences of the industrial revolution have disturbed the natural organization of the devine' concept for humanity." [7]
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