Abdel-Wahed El-Wakil graduated from Ain-Shams University in Cairo, where, from 1965 to 1970, he lectured in the Department of Architecture. El-Wakil has acknowledged the importance of Hassan Fathy to his design development. Since 1971 El-Wakil has been in private practice as an architect. (Source: Architecture and Community: Building in the Islamic World Today. The Aga Khan Award for Architecture. Millerton, NY: Aperture. 1983.)
Recipient of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 1980.
The architect has drawn upon traditional Islamic or Egyptian prototypes for the design of this house. In addition to the courtyard and its fountain, the house has a loggia, a wind catch, alcoves, masonry benches and a belvedere. Except for the master mason, plasterer and carpenter, who were skilled craftsmen, all other labour was done by local unskilled Bedouins. The vaults and arches were constructed by the "inclined arch" system without shuttering. The house works very well in Egypt's hot climate. The walls and roof are designed to provide good insulation, sunlight filters through mashrabiyyas, and the courtyard -- which is in shade throughout the day -- draws fresh sea air down through the wind catch. The paving materials also play their part; the marble in the living areas is cool, and the Muqattam stone used outdoors gives a surface that can be walked on with bare feet even at the height of summer. The design and construction, in the words of the jury, "represent a dedicated search for identity with traditional forms. The courtyard plan, the use of domes, vaults and arches, the articulation of space and sensitive use of light combine to produce a house which fully satisfies contemporary needs. This imaginative handling of traditional vocabulary is also enhanced by the consistent use of traditional methods of construction and the careful attention to details and craftsmanship."