Hassan Fathy

Awarded 1980


For developing an 'Architecture for the Poor'.

Hassan Fathy (1900-1989) from Egypt was one of the most outstanding architects of his generation in Africa. He demonstrated that it is possible to build for the poor and teach people to build for themselves. With the publication of Architecture for the Poor in 1973, Fathy’s work came to international attention. 

This book, which has since become a classic, describes in detail Fathy’s experience in planning and building the village of New Gourma, using mud bricks and employing traditional Egyptian architectural features, such as enclosed courtyards and domed and vaulted roofing. Fathy worked closely with the people to tailor his designs to their needs. He taught them how to work with mud bricks, supervised the erection of buildings and encouraged the revival of ancient decorative techniques.

Fathy taught at the Faculty of Fine Arts of Cairo University and served as the Head of the Department of Architecture for many years. His work and vision have been a great source of inspiration for generations. Fathy passed away in Cairo in 1989.


We need a system that allows the traditional way of cooperation to work in our society. We must subject technology and science to the economy of the poor and penniless.

Hassan Fathy, 1980 Laureate

In 1980 he received the Aga Khan Award for Architecture, and in 1984, the Gold Medal of the Union of International Architects. In 1981 he established the International Institute for Appropriate Technology in Cairo to develop and apply his approach.


Culture and Education