Hassan Fathy’s mud-brick village lies just past the railway track on the road from the ferry to the Antiquities Inspectorate ticket office. Although built between 1946 and 1952 to rehouse the inhabitants of Old Gurna, who lived above and around the Tombs of the Nobles, the village became a showcase of utilitarian mud-brick design. The stunning buildings had Hassan Fathy’s signature domes and vaults, thick mud-brick walls and natural ventilation.
The project failed in its original intention because most inhabitants of Old Gurna refused to move into the new houses, unhappy at the idea of being moved from their old homes and their livelihoods, which some claim was selling trinkets to tourists and others claim was digging up treasures from the ancient burials beneath the houses. Today much of Fathy's work is in tatters, the original houses increasingly replaced with breeze block, although the beautiful mud-brick mosque and theatre survive. Unesco has recognised the need to safeguard the village, but its plans have stalled. A short film about the village is available at https://vimeo.com/15514401.