El Habashi, Alaa. "Monuments or Functioning Buildings: Legal Protection over Five Case-Study Historic Hammams in the Mediterranean," in ArchNet-IJAR: International Journal of Architectural Research, vol. 2, issue 3 (2008).
Historic hammams are not as frequented as they used to be. They are falling into an advanced state of disrepair and are located in dilapidated historic zones. In some cases, they are associated with bad reputations and socially unacceptable behaviours. Many historic hammams’ are therefore, being demolished to make use of their land plots. The few ones that have managed to still survive and operate, witness heavy modifications that not only diminish their historic values but also their operational efficiency. They are becoming rare, and therefore require legal protection either as a heritage building or as a historic monument. This relatively new protection is usually more concerned to preserve the physical existence of the building rather than to maintain its original function and social role. This paper is based on five case study hammams’ in five different countries, investigated as part of the EU funded HAMMAM project. It presents a comparison of the various protection frameworks of the five hammams, and explores the effects of such protection on their current status. It recommends establishing a coherent protection system that respects ethics of heritage conservation and emphasizes on the revitalization of the hammams’ social, financial and health roles in the society.