Sunday, February 25, 2007

Medieval Air Conditioning

Next door to the mosque of Ibn Tulun is a remarkable little museum, the Gayer Anderson House. Anyone who's seen James Bond's The Spy Who Loved Me has see part of the Gayer Anderson House during a fight scene that took place in a roof garden. This was shot in the roof garden that is surrounded by wooden screens known as mashrabeya. These screens were used to provide privacy for the person looking out from the house, but also they cooled the air that entered the house or garden. As the wind pushed through the small holes of the screens, it compressed and cooled providing a means of reducing the heat.

Dr. Gayer Anderson was a British doctor who moved into a 16th century house adjoining the mosque and a 17th century house that was connected to the first. He filled the houses with beautiful examples of Mameluke marble fountains, furniture, mashrabeya, and brass work, as well as art work that he collected in his travels around the world. In his old age, he left the houses to the government of Egypt as a museum.


Hans said...

Nice fotoblog ! its fun to see pictures from other parts of the world.

Alex said...

This is my first visit on your cityblog. I love it.
What a nice and ingenious air-conditioning! I wish we could follow more often the example of our ancestors who had a great sense of aesthetic!

Ashraf Al Shafaki said...

That's interesting. I never knew a mashrabeya was there for cooling air too. Perhaps I should think of having one in my new apartment. It would look so out of date, but who cares, as long as it would cool air naturally.

Now I understand why most Egyptian houses have a sheesh (window made of horizontal straps of wood) behind their glass windows. It suits Egypt's weather best. It's a pitty that now new flats in higher class locations in Egypt use different types of windows.

Star said...

I have discovered your fascinating blog only recently, so will be going through the older comments and photos to catch up. I'd really love to see this museum. Thanks!

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