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10 This special issue on hammāms in the Mediterranean addresses a research subject that has been far too long neglected. Commonly known as "Turkish baths", hammāms, or public bathhouses, were important facilities in Islamic cities. Although the institution fl ourished and spread over a large geographic area under the Ottoman Empire, the Islamic bath is not of Turkish origin. The hammām as a building evolved from the Roman and Byzantine public bath houses and has been adapted to suit the washing requirements of Islam. Located near mosques, souks and residential centres, hammāms played a key role not only in providing a washing facility for the conduct of major ablutions necessary before praying but also a venue for social interaction and rituals, marking religious celebrations and major events in the life of women. The hammām, in the European imagination, remains a utopian space as depicted in Orientalists' paintings. A large central pool is a recurrent feature in paintings such as "After the bath" by Rudolf Ernest, "Bathing in the Serglio" by Theodor Chasseriau, "Steam Bath", the "Great Bath" and "Nargileh Lighter" by Jean Leon Gerome. Yet large pools are a rare feature in hammāms and, when available, they are much smaller and do not occupy a central position in the spaces. Indeed, the transition from the roman bath to the Islamic one meant that large cold water pools disappeared completely. Small hot water plunge pools are consistently found in the historic hammāms of Cairo because of their role in heating the spaces. This is because the under-fl oor heating system (the hypocaust system of the Roman baths) was abandoned in the hammams of Egypt. Small plunge pools were also found in the hammāms of Syria, Lebanon and Palestine. In all these cases, each plunge pool is located in a secondary room and not in the main space.
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EDITORIAL: SPECIAL ISSUE ON TRADITIONAL PUBLIC BATHS-HAMMĀMS-
IN THE MEDITERRANEAN
Magda Sibley
Archnet-IJAR, International Journal of Architectural Research
Copyright © 2008 Archnet-IJAR, Volume 2 - Issue 3 -November 2008- (10-16)
10
This special issue on hammāms in the
Mediterranean addresses a research subject
that has been far too long neglected.
Commonly known as “Turkish baths”, hammāms,
or public bathhouses, were important facilities in
Islamic cities. Although the institution ourished
and spread over a large geographic area
under the Ottoman Empire, the Islamic bath is
not of Turkish origin. The hammām as a building
evolved from the Roman and Byzantine public
bath houses and has been adapted to suit
the washing requirements of Islam. Located
near mosques, souks and residential centres,
hammāms played a key role not only in
providing a washing facility for the conduct of
major ablutions necessary before praying but
also a venue for social interaction and rituals,
marking religious celebrations and major events
in the life of women.
The hammām, in the European imagination,
remains a utopian space as depicted in
Orientalists’ paintings. A large central pool is
a recurrent feature in paintings such as “After
the bath” by Rudolf Ernest, “Bathing in the
Serglio” by Theodor Chasseriau, “Steam Bath”,
the “Great Bath” and “Nargileh Lighter” by
Jean Leon Gerome. Yet large pools are a rare
feature in hammāms and, when available, they
are much smaller and do not occupy a central
position in the spaces. Indeed, the transition
from the roman bath to the Islamic one meant
that large cold water pools disappeared
completely. Small hot water plunge pools are
consistently found in the historic hammāms
of Cairo because of their role in heating the
spaces. This is because the under- oor heating
system (the hypocaust system of the Roman
baths) was abandoned in the hammams of
Egypt. Small plunge pools were also found in
the hammāms of Syria, Lebanon and Palestine.
In all these cases, each plunge pool is located in
a secondary room and not in the main space.
In Ingres’s famous painting the “Turkish Bath”
(1862, Musee du Louvre, Paris), erotic images of
naked women in the hammāms are depicted.
It is interesting to note that Ingres never travelled
to the East. While preparing this picture, the artist
read and copied out the French translation of
Lady Mary Monttagu’s account of her visit to
a hammām in the early eighteenth century.
Although she emphasised the fact that there
was no impropriety amongst the large crowd
Special Issue on Traditional Public Baths / Hammāms in the Mediterranean, Guest Editor: Magda Sibley
Archnet-IJAR, International Journal of Architectural Research - Volume 2 - Issue 3 - November 2008
Editorial: Special Issue on Traditional Public Baths / Hammāms in the Mediterranean
MAGDA SIBLEY
11
of bathers, Ingress seems to have ignored this
comment in spite of the fact that, for centuries,
hammām etiquette requires women and men
to remain partially clothed.
Hammām Tayruzi, Damascus, Syria (Source: M. Sibley).
The institution of public baths has seen a rapid
decline in the late 19th and the 20th centuries,
particularly in the Middle East. The introduction
of modern bathroom facilities accelerated the
disappearance of many historic structures. This
has been further aggravated by the introduction
of new roads across the fabric of many historic
urban centres, resulting in the demolition of a
signi cant number of public baths throughout
the historic Mediterranean cities.
Memories of long happy hours spent with my late
grandmother in a hammām in Algiers were one
of the reasons behind my interest in this building
type. This led me, since the 1990’s, to apply for
and receive various research grants from the
Arts and Humanities Research Council in the
UK with the aim of cataloguing the surviving
hammāms throughout the Mediterranean
countries and understanding the way in which
they are still functioning, used and perceived
today by contemporary society. This interest
gained an international dimension with my
participation in the EU funded FP6 “HAMMAM
– Hammam, Aspects and Multidisciplinary
Methods of Analysis for the Mediterranean
Region” project during which I led two key work
packages dealing with architectural typologies
and restoration technologies of hammām
buildings in the Mediterranean region.
The HAMMAM project was led and
administered by Dr Heidi Dumreicher and her
team at OIKODROM (The Vienna Institute of
Urban Sustainability) who brought together
an impressive multidisciplinary consortium of
researchers and practitioners from both Europe
(United Kingdom, France and Austria), and
Middle Eastern and North African countries
(Turkey, Syria, Palestine, Egypt, Algeria and
Morocco). This three year research programme
was carried out between 2005 and 2008 during
which on-site, in-depth, multi-disciplinary
investigations of case study hammām buildings
and their neighbourhood were carried out in the
cities of Ankara (hamāmm Sengul), Damascus
(hammām Ammuna) Cairo (hammāms
Al-Tanbali and Bab al Bahr), Constantine
(hammām Suq El Ghzel) and Fez (hammām
Archnet-IJAR, International Journal of Architectural Research - Volume 2 - Issue 3 - November 2008
Editorial: Special Issue on Traditional Public Baths / Hammāms in the Mediterranean
MAGDA SIBLEY
12
Seffarine). Unfortunately eld work could not
be completed on hammām Al Samarra, the
case study in Gaza, due to the dif cult political
situation. Field work involved research teams from
Europe and Southern Mediterranean countries
working intensively together for a period of two
weeks in the location of each of the case study
hammāms around the Mediterranean. Experts
from different disciplines and backgrounds such
as architecture, building conservation, urban
planning, sociology, history, economy, water
engineering, environmentalist, artists and lm
makers (from Europe, North Africa and the
Middle East) worked closely together and with the
inhabitants of the neighbourhood where the case
study hammāms are located. The work was aimed
at forming scenarios for the sustainability of the
hammām and its neighbourhood by developing
a deep multidisciplinary understanding of both the
tangible and intangible dimensions of this heritage
building and the contemporary transformations
taking place within it and its neighbourhood.
It is interesting to note that as a result of the
work of the HAMMAM consortium, local and
international awareness for the safeguard of
hammām buildings has been raised. Some
winning stories include the case study hammām
Ammuna, a small neighbourhood hammām
in Damascus away from the tourist area. This
building has been saved from closure and
decay as it has been purchased by a local
private investor who restored the building and
re-opened it as a working hammam for women
with the introduction of contemporary facilities
and services. This hammām has become a focal
point for the local community. Its restoration and
re-opening, have brought new hopes for this
otherwise neglected neighbourhood. It has also
triggered new local initiatives for improving the
urban environment of the extra-muros historic
neighbourhood of Al Uqaiba.
Yalbugha Al Nasisri Hammām, Aleppo, Syria. (Source: M.
Sibley).
Another winning story is that of the Supreme
Council of Antiquities in Cairo who has
accepted for the rst time the concept of
restoring hammām al Tanbali and re-opening it
as a functioning hammām, reversing the current
tendency of restoring hammāms as buildings to
visit and look at rather than use. It is therefore
with great pleasure and pride that I have been
Archnet-IJAR, International Journal of Architectural Research - Volume 2 - Issue 3 - November 2008
Editorial: Special Issue on Traditional Public Baths / Hammāms in the Mediterranean
MAGDA SIBLEY
13
given the opportunity to edit this special issue
of IJAR. My thanks go to Dr. Ashraf Salama for
giving me the opportunity to present this work.
Special thanks are also due to Dr Fodil Fadli, my
research associate for his invaluable contribution
to this issue and continuous support. Many of the
papers presented in this issue would not have
been possible if it were not for the nancial
support of the EU for the HAMMAM project and
the efforts of all the members of the HAMMAM
consortium for their invaluable contribution to
this issue.
This issue brings together some of the results of
the HAMMAM project through a selection of
papers written by authors who are members
of the consortium. It also includes papers by
researchers outside the HAMMAM consortium,
completing the picture of the hammāms in
countries not covered by the HAMMAM project
such as Tunisia and Libya. Three other papers
by members outside the consortium will be
published in the next IJAR issue.
The papers in this issue have been organised
according to three broad themes re ecting
the multidisciplinary nature of the work. These
themes are: social and cultural aspects,
conservation and heritage protection, urban
and architectural analyses, environmental
evaluations and future scenarios of sustainability.
The papers cover case studies in the whole area
of North Africa from Morocco to Egypt as well
as others in Syria and Turkey.
Hammām Al Malek Al
Zaher, Damascus, Syria,
(Source: Ahmet Igdirligil).
Archnet-IJAR, International Journal of Architectural Research - Volume 2 - Issue 3 - November 2008
Editorial: Special Issue on Traditional Public Baths / Hammāms in the Mediterranean
MAGDA SIBLEY
14
This special issue starts with the paper of Kolb and
Dumreicher which argues that the hammām is
a rich tangible and intangible Mediterranean
heritage. It is a living cultural heritage with speci c
social and cultural practices and rituals that are
still alive across the wide geographic area around
the Mediterranean. This is followed by El Kerdany’s
paper which discusses the current threats to the
survival of hammāms pointing to “Modernization”
and “Islamic Fundamentalism”. Both tangible
and non-tangible dimensions of heritage are
examined, based on recent eld studies that
recorded changes in the function of two currently
operating historic hammāms in Cairo.
The issue of legal protection of hammāms
as heritage buildings is then discussed in al-
Habashi’s paper which compares the various
protection frameworks in the ve Mediterranean
countries where the case study hammāms are
located. The paper explores the types of legal
protection that prevail and their impact on
the current status of the buildings. A number
of recommendations are made to establish a
coherent legal protection system that respects
ethics of heritage conservation and emphasizes
the revitalization of the hammāms’ social,
nancial and health roles in the society.
The hammāms of Fez (Morocco), Constantine
(Algeria), Tunis (Tunisia), Tripoli (Libya) and
Damascus (Syria) are then presented in a
series of papers discussing their urban and
architectural characteristics and providing a
clear picture of the common features that span
time and geography as well as the speci c
characteristics linked to their geographical
location. The Raftani and Radoine paper
focuses on the hammāms of the world heritage
city of Fez and highlights their characteristics
which are reminiscent of the small Roman baths
or balnea found in Volubilis.
The paper of Debbach presents the Ottoman
bath of Suq el Ghezel in Constantine- Algeria,
and discusses the contemporary challenges
for its survival as an operating bath house
due not only to the changing social and
economic context but also to contemporary
fundamentalist religious interpretations which
make the hammām a forbidden space for
women.
Bouraoui’s paper presents an overview of
the hammāms of Tunis highlighting their
morphological characteristics. It identi es
recurring systems of spatial organisation based
on systematic classi cations and analyses of
the hammāms’ spatial components and their
relationship to each other.
Sibley and Fadli’s paper presents an analysis of
the two remaining working historic hammāms of
the medina of Tripoli and the way they are used
and perceived today by the locals and North
African migrants living inside and outside the
old city.
Aboukhater’s paper provides an analysis of the
morphological characteristics of the internal
layouts of several hammāms. Examples are
chosen mainly Damascus and Fez. Using basic
concepts of Space Syntax the paper highlights
how the layout of the hammāms responds to
implicit social rules of privacy, segregation,
control, movement and social interaction.
The internal environmental conditions of the ve
traditional hammām buildings investigated in the
HAMMAM project are investigated in two papers,
one by Bouillot, the other one by Mahdavi and
Archnet-IJAR, International Journal of Architectural Research - Volume 2 - Issue 3 - November 2008
Editorial: Special Issue on Traditional Public Baths / Hammāms in the Mediterranean
MAGDA SIBLEY
15
Orehounig. The passive environmental strategies
are explained in Bouillot’s paper. Data on indoor
environmental (thermal) conditions and outdoor
microclimatic conditions in the immediate
vicinity of ve traditional hammams located in
Egypt, Turkey, Morocco, Syria, and Algeria was
collected by Mahdavi and Orehounig who
present an objective assessment of the actual
performance of these buildings and evaluation
of their strengths and weaknesses.
A contemporary hammām recently completed
in Brodrum (Turkey) as part of a wellness complex
is presented by ğdirligil, the architect of the
project. The paper highlights the approach
towards integrating into a contemporary
Hammām Fethi Domes, Damascus, Syria, (Source: M. Sibley).
Archnet-IJAR, International Journal of Architectural Research - Volume 2 - Issue 3 - November 2008
Editorial: Special Issue on Traditional Public Baths / Hammāms in the Mediterranean
MAGDA SIBLEY
16
project some of the lessons learned from the
vernacular architecture of the hammāms in
Turkey. However, the author argues that newly
designed hammām facilities will inevitably differ
from the traditional ones. The differences will nd
expression in the architectural solutions chosen
to accommodate the addition of new activities
to the core hammām function.
Last but not least the paper of Levine et al ends
this special issue with a broader spectrum of
considerations related to the relationship between
the hammām and the question of sustainability.
Levine et al argue that the outcome of corporate
capitalism has not been what was initially
expected – a greater wealth for the few and
greater poverty for the masses is evident in many
developing economies. It is also argued that
the North African Medinas still have existing life
patterns that are remnants of a proto-sustainable
past. The question that is raised is how can we
develop scenarios that propose a sustainable
future for these hammāms while being respectful
and supportive of the historic local culture yet
also create a viable strategy for developing a
sustainable mode of contemporary life?
It is hoped that this rst issue on hammāms is the
beginning of further research and publications
in the eld. The University of Liverpool’s School of
Architecture has a research group researching
hammāms in North Africa and the Middle East
and building a database on hammāms in the
Mediterranean countries.
Dr Magda Sibley
Senior Lecturer in Architecture
The University of Liverpool
msibley@liv.ac.uk
http://hammams.info/org/
http://hammams.org
------------------------
Magda Sibley
Dr Sibley is a senior lecturer in Architecture at the
University of Liverpool school of Architecture. Her
research examines world heritage Islamic cities in
North Africa and the Middle East with particular
emphasis on the transformations of the residential
quarters. Two building types have been the focus of
her research: the courtyard house and the public bath
or hammam. She has been awarded various research
grants from the Arts and Humanities Research Council
in the UK (AHRC) and the EU to carry out eld work on
the public baths in the Mediterranean world heritage
cities. This work recently gained an international
dimension with her partnership in the European
consortium for the HAMMAM project, funded under
the 6th Framework Programme - Speci c Targeted
Research Projects (STREP) (see http://www.hammams.
org). She has also been successful in securing a large
AHRC research grant in June 2006 to document
the historic public baths of North Africa. This project
is funded for a period of three years. She has also
established a research group on hammams at the
Liverpool School of Architecture (see http://www.
hammams.info/). As well as her hammam work, she
is also involved in a four year EPSRC funded research
project led by Salford University, SURegen - Integrated
Decision Support System for Sustainable Urban
Regeneration, where she is investigating heritage-led
urban regeneration. She is currently supervising PhD
research projects on heritage-led sustainable urban
regeneration, eco-tourism, low- energy courtyard
housing and sustainability assessment methods. She
is uent in French, Arabic and English and can be
contacted at this email address: msibley@liv.ac.uk
... Baths were central to western displays of Oriental ways of life in World Fairs (Çelik 1992), together with the mosque, the fountain and a residence (pavilion). Hammams remain a utopian space in the European imagination (Sibley 2008), sustained in a complex and multilayered dialectic by references that rely heavily on nineteenth-century legacies which include paintings, quietness, sensuality and pleasure (Çelik 1992). ...
... These recent urban changes accentuated the situations, where several hammamsthat were once surrounded by traditional old quartiers and by inhabitants who have been using hammams for generationsare now encircled by newer urban blocks, inhabited by people who do not use or need to use hammams. These transformation processes are in tune with what is happening in other Islamic cities, such as Cairo (El Kerdani 2008, Fadli andSibley, 2008), Damascus (Sibley 2006) and Istanbul (Cichocki 2005;Smolijaninovaitė 2007). Secondly, in the early twentieth century, in Isfahan, as in many other large Iranian cities, water was supplied by shallow wells distributed by open air canals (Ehlers and Floor 1993), which together with poor housing in the historic centre meant that the hammam was a key urban site, with plenty of clientele. ...
... Hammams have been a key piece in the Islamic urban structure for many centuries (Lambton and Sourdel-Thomine 2007, Dumreicher 2008, Sibley 2008. In the last decades, changes in the urban structure, in society, in the quotidian way of life and in the economy, have been the principal reason behind the closure, demolition or reduction in use of hammams. ...
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... Following the rise of Islam, rapid development in the architecture of hammām was observed (Sibley & Jackson, 2012). Centrally located near mosques, souks and residential areas, a hammām provided a venue for the completion of ablutions necessary before praying but also served as a platform for social interaction and rituals (Sibley, 2008). A traditional hammam consists of three consecutive rooms with one room leading to the other furnishing specific provisions and conditions; the cold (frigidarium), the warm (tepidarium), and the hot (calidarium) (Raftani & Radoine, 2008). ...
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