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Les conférences de l’Ifao

Le mercredi 14 mars 2018 à 18h00, IFAO géolocalisation IFAO

Houses and Lives of Bigge: New understandings of Nubian Vernacular Architecture

Bernadeta Schaefer

La conférence aura lieu en anglais.

Nubia extends from modern Aswan in Egypt to south of Khartoum in Sudan. As a result of the construction of the Aswan Dam, most civil architecture of Nubia was destroyed by inundation. Only a few specialists interested in vernacular Nubian architecture were able to document fragments of its original richness.

By a fortunate coincidence, on the island of Bigge, trapped between the dams of Aswan, two abandoned Nubian villages have been preserved in a highly authentic state until our times. The earliest fabric of the villages originates from 1912‒30 and since 2015 has been the subject of investigations by the German Archaeological Institute Cairo and Berlin University of Technology in a unique combination of the disciplines of building history and ethnoarchaeology.

The objective of these investigations is the documentation and the analysis of the principles of spatial organisation and the constructive characteristics of Nubian vernacular architecture as a framework of life in a rural community. Marked by changes in the natural habitat due to the construction of the High Dam and the increasing occupational migration of the men, the living conditions and social structures, and along with them the architecture of Bigge began to undergo a transformation away from traditional patterns. This process was interrupted by the abandonment of the island. Leftover buildings and equipment provide insights into the processes inherent in the evolution of vernacular architecture in general.

Bernadeta Schaefer is an Assistant Professor at the Chair for History of Architecture and Urbanism at Berlin Institute of Technology. She is a Conservation architect, building archaeologist, timber specialist. Her Scientific interests are various and among them: secular architecture, vernacular architecture, rural structures, natural construction materials.
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