Thursday, February 28, 2013

Can There Be An Islamic Urbanism?

The Atlantic raises some questions:

Imran Aukhil describes himself as "a Muslim and a committed urbanist." Those things, he says, should be complementary rather than contradictory. And yet Aukhil, who tweets as @UrbanMuslim, says that when it comes to the way urban communities are being built in the 21st century, he is often dismayed by what he sees happening in Muslim cities around the world . . . .

[I]n recent years, Aukhil has been shocked to see what is happening to the architectural and urban forms of the Islamic tradition. Like many others, he has been especially concerned about the demolition and construction in the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia, which has been ongoing for the last decade. The construction of the $15 billion, 1,971-foot clock tower known as the Abraj al-Bait has gotten international attention -- and criticism. But the utter transformation of the city, from an exemplar of traditional urban forms that date back centuries into a showplace of glitz and glossy skyscrapers, where pilgrims can pray in luxurious privacy, has received relatively scant scrutiny outside the Islamic world.

Steve Clowney

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