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Dr. Abbas El-Zafarany Lectures:

Environmental Lectures

Department of Architecture and Environmental design

Course outline

Course Information

Course Title:           Environmental Aesthetics
Code:                     AR000
Hours:                    Lectures: 2       Tutorials: 2       Credits :2
Lecturer:     Dr. Abbas el Zafarany
Assitants:    Arch.                                   , Arch.     


Class performance/Attendance:       10%
Midterm 1/ Assignments:                 30%
Midterm 2/ Assignments:                 20%
Final Exam:                         40%

Course Aim

Enabling the students to understand, appreciate and respect the values and aesthetics of the Natural and built environment, to enable them do design better Architecture that gets benefit from the Environment, and interacts positively with it.

Course Objectives

Targeted values

The student should obtain the values of:

  • Awareness, appreciation and respect for the nature and the existing built environment.
  • Aesthetics and beauty apreciation
  • Sensitivity to deal in Harmony with the environment

Targeted skills

The student should obtain the skills of:

    • Ability  to observe, document and  analyze the Environment
    • Ability  to create Architectural concepts inspired by lessons from Environment.
    • Enhancing The ability to design buildings that contribute positively to its Environment.

    Course Description

    This course enables the student to understand, appreciate and respect the values and aesthetics of the Natural and built environment and their integration,
    As a step enabling him do design buildings which become a positive addition to their environments. And sets the Environmental background needed for landscape design and Environmental Architecture.
    This is achieved by:
    Observation: taking a closer look to Environment through: slides, video clips, websites, tours and free trips to places of natural Aesthetic value.
    Documenting : photographing , sketching, drawing, and painting Environmental scenes.
    Analysis: understanding the Components of the Environment and their interaction
    Appreciation: recognizing sides of beauty and benefit of Environment.
    Learning: from Environment as an Architectural concept inspiring.
    Knowing to Act positively: building in Harmony with Environment
    Integrating the Environmental beauty in architecture
                                              Creating new Environments.
    The course Integrates lectures, discussions, brain storming, research and design assignments, small projects, tours and visits to achieve its aim.
    Each lecture focuses on one of the Environment components from several points of view:
    Its benefit
    Its Natural Aesthetics and visual composition
    Integrating it with architecture
    Lessons and Architectural concepts inspired by it



    • Cunningham and Saigo: Environmental Science, a Global Concern. McGraw Hill, boston, 1999.
    • Wimberly,Alison, Tong and Goo: Hospitality and leisure Architecture, Rockport publishers, Massachusetts, 1995.


    • James steel: An Architecture for people, the complete works of Hasan Fat’hy, AUC press, Cairo, 1997.
    • J.Symonds: Landscape Architecture, an ecological Approach to environmental Planning, McGraw Hill, New York, 1961.


    • Brown and Gillspie: Microclimatic Lanscape Design, John Wiley and sons, New York,1995.


    Detailed Course outline

    Unit 1: Understanding the Environment

    Week 1
    What is Environmental Aesthetics?
    Environmental Aesthetics: Art, philosophy and science
    The Architect as an Environment modifier, and Creator!
    Understanding the Environment
    Why: enjoying, getting benefit, preserving, creating Environments.
     How: observation, documenting, analysis, appreciation, learning, acting positively.
    What: Environment components
    Natural Environment: atmosphere, Land, water,
     ecosystem( plants, animals, living organisms)
    Human and Man Made Environment: Man, society, culture and built up Environment.
    Interrelations and interactions in the Environment

    • Design and Draw a plate that expresses the Environment and its components
      on a transparent overlay sheet, define and discribe briefly each component.
    • draw a sketch of a Natural scene of your choice, in a transparent overlay analyze the components of the natural Environment that your scene involves

    note: both assignments are on A3 sheets , preferably recycled, papyrus, or cotton paper.

    Week 2

    Benefit and value of Environment in life and Architecture.
    Positive values from the plants
    Environmental effects
    Material sources
    Food, fodder, Fuel, fibers….
    Animals and other living Organisms
         Bio diversity and its value
    Architectural reflections
    Building materials: whole Houses, components, furniture,…
    The Aesthetics of Natural Materials:
    The renwable materials and energy content concept
    Environmental conditions in building.

    • design a report cover from Natural Materials: wood, leather, rough Natural textiles, papyrus, bound sticks …..
      The Cover should express the respect of nature both in Material and design
    • write a brief essay about the value and benefit of  natural materials in Architecture.
      support your essay with illustrated examples


    Week 3

    The Aesthetics of Environment
    How can we find beauty in Environment?
    Beauty: its meaning
    Comfort, warmth, satiation, stability…: the shade of a tree, the warmth of Sun..
    Neuro-system stimulation
    Coherence to pleasant sensation (Tree-shade, sun-warmth,…) Bafflov theory
    Coherence to Benefit: A house = shelter, Tree-food….
    Emotional/Sentimental meaning( childhood Memories and fantasies, Paradise,…)
    Stimulating: surprise, fear, challenge, superiority, suspense…
    Ego stimulation: uniqueness of the view, impossibility for others to see it…
    Rational: Abstract composition Aesthetics (harmony, Contrast, Balance, Rhythm,..)
    Assignment: photograph or draw 8-12 natural scenes as examples of every aspect of beauty, and analyze their Aesthetic Value on a transparent overlay.

    Unit 2: Aesthetics of Natural Environment:

    Week 4:
    The Aesthetics of plants and its relation to Architecture
    Plants in nature
    Trees, Forests, meadows,…
    Static beauty: trunk, branches, leaves, roses, color
    Dynamic/life beauty: movement, change, growth and fertility
    Analysis of plant Aesthetics
    Plants: in man Made Gardens
         Landscape: artistic composition with plants
         Plants around a building, a touch of life to a sculptural composition
         Plants as a background for the building
    Plants within the building
         Interior design and Plants
    Indoor/outdoor/ hybrid spaces: plants in courts, terraces, balconies, windows..
    Plants in architectural Drawings
    Assignments:  sketching Plants            1- single tree
    2- composition using plants
    3- a building with trees and plants
    4- plants within an interior space
    on a transparent overlay, analyze the beauty aspects of each sketch.
    Project 1: Design a fence for a zoo or animal Garden: Project Introduction.


    Week 5:

    Aesthetics of Animals and wild life
    Animals in Nature
    Animals in Man made Gardens and Built Environment
    Butterfly gardens, humming birds Gardens,…
    Pigeons in Religious building and spaces, symbols
    Zoo, open or closed
    EcoTourism, driving planning and architecture
    Architectural Lessons from the Natural Environment:
    The Natural Analogy
    Structure systems from Nature: Tensile structures and the spider web, mushrooms,…
    Shelter for Animals, lessons and concepts:
    Mega structures and System point of view: white ants’ houses
    Seashells: growing house with growing needs!
    Bird’s nest: a temporary shelter for temporary use.
    Wild rabbits grooves: security systems
    Geometry from Nature, crystals and sunflower
    Sea shells, lesson the structure of form
    The Lost city, south Africa, direct biological Analogy

    Project 1: Design of a fence and a gate for a zoo, or animal Garden.
         Drawings: Elevation 1:50, Plan 1/50
    Or a model to the same scale.

    Week 6

    Sky and Atmosphere
    Day time sky
    Sunset and sunrise
    Rain, flash, and storms
    Fog, mist, and mystery
    Night sky: moon, stars, the Architecture at night design
    Skylines of: plants and  mountains
    Architecture and sky:
    Skylines of buildings and cities.
    The sky in rendering architectural Drawings
           Discussion of Project Proposal
    A brain storming session for developing new environmental Ideas

    Week 7

    Seventh week exam (2 hours)

    Week 8:         

    Aesthetics of land and Atmosphere
    Forms and Covers
    Snow and Polar Environment
    Architecture and land:
    Building on mountains: preservation, accentuation, alteration and distruction!
    Carving houses in mountains.
    Mountains and rocks as structures: Deconstructive roots in Nature!
    Desert architecture
    Assignment: photographing and Sketching rock combinations and translating them into Abstract building forms.(preferably mountains in Egypt)

    Week 9:

    Aesthetics of water
    Movement and rhythm
    The river: Purity, calmness, continuous stream, life, prosperity
    The sea: Power, fear, the Unknown, Adventure, risk, trade..
    Water falls: power, gravity, acceleration, violence/tenderness, scale
    water plants
    marine life
    Integrating water with architecture and landscape:
     water Gardens: pools , Ponds, streams, fountains, water falls…
    water Architecture: in the interiors and exteriors, Falling water house

           understanding water fronts:
    1- The veiwer bank, framing the view
    2- water area and its contents: plants, rocks, boats…., Quality: color,…
    3- opposite bank: coast line, the bank(land, ground cover, plantation…), the background (skyline, depth of field…)

    • sketch 4 types of water Gardens components, on a transparent overlay analyze its Aesthetics
    • photograph a scene that shows the glory of Nile in Cairo and its suburbs, on a transparent overlay analyze the water fronts and their Aesthetics.

    Unit 3: human and Man made environment

    Week 10
    The vernacular Architecture
         Western vernacular architecture
    Egyptian vernacular Architecture
    Hassan Fat’hy: the genius question!
    Al-gourna: the complexity of sociological aspects in Architecture
    Mud bricks: Building from earth that gets back to earth,
    Recycling buildings, Nigeria vernacular housing.
    vernacular architecture in Arab Pensula: Nagd, Aseer, Yemen..

    Week 11

    The Human environment
    Homo Sabines: the Anthropology .
    The human society
    Culture and civilization
    Shelter and housing
    The built-up environment
    Architecture as a representation of Culture: functions and symbols
    Architecture as a representation of civilization: building technology
    What should be preserved in built environment?
    The Historical Architecture, Urban form, atmosphere and lifestyle.
    Vernacular Architecture
    High standard urban zones and their integrity.
    Assignment: visit al kheyameyah street or khan el khaleely, and take some photographs expressing the 4 historical aspects that should be preserved. On a transparent overlay, write your analysis of Aesthetic values on each photograph, defining objects that accentuates positive values and those opposing them

    Week 12

    12th week exam (2 hours)

    Week 13
     Architectural Trends Related to Environmental Aesthetics

    Contextual Design
    Building with Nature
    Preservation of the Nature
    Visual Relation between a building and Nature:
    Harmony: building blending in the nature or emerging from the ground
    Contrast: building accentuated as a unique Organism, Nature as a background
    Contextual Design
    Building in Harmony with built-up Environment
    Understanding the context
    Architecture theories if contexual Design

    • sketch 2 examples of buildings in harmony with nature, and 2 others in contrast
    • sketch 2 examples of buildings in harmony with their urban context, and 2 others in contrast
    • on a transpatent overlay, express your personal openion about each image,  (what and  why).

    Organic Architecture: theory and concepts!

    Organic Concepts in Architecture: Building as a living Organism!
    Life activities
    Life systems within a building
    circularity system
    neuro- system
    thermal regularity system
    Man, Environment and shelter
    Cities as living organisms
    The role of a new creature in the environment:  a building!

    Week 14

    General revision




Dr. Yehia Waziry
Dr. Tarek Abdel Ra'ouf
Dr. Abbas El-Zafarany