Cities and Urban Spaces / Architecture and Construction

Architecture is the art of constructing individual buildings, integrating new buildings within existing architectural organisation and space, and constructing totally new urban or rural centres within the landscape as well.
When designing a building, an architect defines its volume, orientation and height, decides on the number of windows and doors, as well as deciding on appropriate materials, surfaces and decorative features. In cities, the architect must harmonise the building with the rest of the urban web in order to maintain overall visual order. Provision must include public and private spaces as well as residential, religious and municipal areas. These all need to meet the different requirements of users and respond to the local environment and climate. Symbolic expression is seen commonly in palace, military, municipal and governmental architecture. How buildings appear depends very much on the building materials used, its purpose, and who commissioned it, but modes of fashion and advances in materials and techniques also impact on their appearance.
In the 19th century new aesthetic canons, construction techniques and materials were employed by architects working in Europe as well as in the Arab and Ottoman world. European influences on Arab and Ottoman architecture are notable in several ways: the change to solid, high buildings constructed along wide, long axial streets and squares, and the integration of commercial centres and new residential complexes among traditional mosques, markets and family houses.

Working NumberNameHolding MuseumDateMaterialsCurator Justification
IT1 001Villa Crespi1897Villa-type architecture is rooted in Italian architectural history, but here this style has been innovatively evoked while also reflecting the aesthetic of Arab and Ottoman architecture. A building inspired by the art and architecture of Baghdad, the minaret being one of the main architectural features, it has made use of many 19th-century technical developments as well. A small so-called “company town” was constructed near the Crespi factory and villa.
MC 007House19th centuryWith its construction, façades and decoration, the house is a good example of Macedonian urban architecture.
PT 008Barbadinhos Steam pumping stationBuilt between 1871 and 1880Built to accommodate a steam engine, a main force of the Industrial Revolution, this building was the result of international cooperation.
DE 005Hijaz Railway Station, DamascusMuseum of Islamic Art at the Pergamon Museum, State Museums1955; 1996The majestic station building integrates elements of Arab‒Ottoman architectural vocabulary with European architectural elements. The railway revolutionised travel to the Holy Site of Mecca so that thousands more Islamic pilgrims had access to it; symbolically, of course, it also celebrated Ottoman power in Syria.
ET1 013The England HotelBibliotheca Alexandrina1900The hotel was built to accommodate European tourists, but also as a show of British power in the area.
MO 008Hotel Excelsior1914–1916The hotel, designed by a Frenchman during the French Protectorate, displays features of Moorish revival architecture.
TN 028The post office 1891The architectural style, materials and location of the building all demonstrate the influence, power and presence of the French Protectorate in Tunis.
IT1 095The Palace of the Poste Italienne (Ruins)Vallicelliana Library1882The Palace of the Poste Italienne was a manifestation of Italy’s power and presence in Alexandria. Here the building is in ruins after “anti-foreign rioting”, marking a change in the political climate.
LB 044Sursuq Palace1860This fascinating town-palace, now a museum, incorporates local Lebanese architecture with European.
MO 017Dar al-Batha (Batha Museum)1897The former palace, which has two wings located at either side of a garden, follows local architectural traditions. Opened as a public museum in 1915, it was one of the first public museums to be founded in the country.
LB 028'Zahrat Al-Ihsan School1881The school was founded in response to new ideas and methods in teaching and in relation to the education of girls. Established in the 19th century, the architecture blends European styles with local traditions.
LB 024Patriarchal College1865 (inaugurated)Following the canons of European architecture, the building was built as a higher education institution for priests of the Greek-Catholic community.