Bianca, Stefano. Urban Form in the Arab World - Past and Present. Zurich: vdf, 2000.
Urban Form in the Arab World presents a detailed survey of traditional urban structures in Arab-Islamic countries and an analysis of the problems that historic cities face as they confront modern development and Western technologies. Essential reading for architects and planners professionally involved in the Middle East, it will appeal to anyone interested in Islamic architecture and culture in general.
Stefano Bianca, an architectural historian and practicing urban designer, discusses a wide range of philosophical and technical issues, bridging past and present and drawing upon his thorough knowledge of the field.
In contrast to the many books on Islamic architecture that focus on isolated historic monuments, Urban Form in the Arab World describes the complete urban fabric, with its houses, mosques, public facilities, streets and markets. Basic architectural forms are explained in relation to how they are used, as well as in terms of their general cultural background and pre-islamic precedents. The conflicts between traditional Islamic models and Western planning methods are explored, and case studies of Mecca, Baghdad, Fez and Aleppo show how practical solutions can be found to problems faced by architects trying to preserve both local cultural identity and the historic patterns of cities. The rich visual documentation includes maps, plans and photographs, many previously unpublished.