Tuesday, May 20, 2008

new brownbook website


Sunday, May 18, 2008

brownbook subscribers.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Innerspace: Sandbag Prototype

The global need for housing includes millions refugees and displaced persons – victims of natural disasters and wars. Iranian architect Nader Khalili believes that this need can be addressed only by using the potential of earth construction.

After extensive research into vernacular earth building methods in Iran, followed by detailed prototyping, he has developed the sandbag or ‘superadobe’ system. The basic construction technique involves filling sandbags with earth and laying them in courses in a circular plan. The circular courses are corbelled near the top to form a dome. Barbed wire is laid between courses to prevent the sandbags from shifting and to provide earthquake resistance. Hence the materials of war – sandbags and barbed wire – are used for peaceful ends, integrating traditional earth architecture with contemporary global safety requirements.

The system employs the timeless forms of arches, domes and vaults to create single and double-curvature shell structures that are both strong and aesthetically pleasing. While these load-bearing or compression forms refer to the ancient mudbrick architecture of the Middle East, the use of barbed wire as a tensile element alludes to the portable tensile structures of nomadic cultures. The result is an extremely safe structure. The addition of barbed wire to the compression structures creates earthquake resistance; the aerodynamic form resists hurricanes; the use of sandbags aids flood resistance; and the earth itself provides insulation and fireproofing.

Several design prototypes of domes and vaults were built and tested. The system is particularly suitable for providing temporary shelter because it is cheap and allows buildings to be quickly erected by hand by the occupants themselves with a minimum of training. The shelters focus on the economic empowerment of people by participation in the creation of their own homes and communities.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Report: Oxford's Middle East Centre, by Zaha Hadid

The Middle East Centre of St. Antony’s College is the University of Oxford’s centre for interdisciplinary study of the Modern Middle East. The centre was founded in 1957 and it is focused on research on humanities and social sciences with a wide reference to the Arab World and its geographic adjacencies. The Centre research core is a specialized library and substantial paper and photographic archive covering material from 1800’s onwards. At present, the Middle East Centre’s Library and Administration facilities are housed in the former Rectory of the Church of SS. Philip and James at 68 Woodstock Road. The archive is housed in the basement of the neighbouring property at 66 Woodstock Road, sharing the building with other facilities and rooms of the college. The Middle East Centre also had 3 workrooms in the same property.

To tie in with the St. Antony’s College future plans the Middle East Centre is planning a new Library and Archive to meet the current use for research and academic activities. Zaha Hadid Architects has been commissioned to design a scheme in the garden plot that separates 68 and 66-64 Woodstock Road. The new building has to comply with the college’s vision for growth and add formal coherence to the existing quad, and tie in with the ambition ADP’s masterplan for St. Antony’s college.


Saturday, May 10, 2008

Cafe. The Old Sana'a Market

There is nothing more rich then experiencing the uniqueness of the Middle East and what it has to offer. As frequent fliers to Sana'a now is the perfect time to visit the city. With its unique souqs and untouched market, the experience is extremely rich.

Should you visit the old souq, pass by the Oud Qotor, opposite the honey quarter on the right passage. Known to brew the best tea with mint in the City.

Moroc - Rock n Roll

The Gnawa music inspired a number of great musicians such as Jimmi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin and others. Gnaoua music is a pentatonic music very similar to Blues music because both are rooted in the heart of Africa.

Jimmy Page and Robert Plant went even further to create No Quarter in 1994. No Quarter is a fusion between gnaoua music and rock, following the steps of Randy Weston who was the first musician to fuse his jazz music with gnaoua in the 60's.

The Gnawa Festival takes place in Essaouira - The Wind City - that hosted the hippy movement in the 70's. Essaouira is a very vibrant place to be from its rich culture and history to its beaches and weather that makes it a heaven for windsurfers.

"Gnawa are the descendents of slaves originating from Black Africa who established brotherhoods throughout Morocco. They are made up of master musicians (maâlem), metal castanet players, clairvoyants, mediums and their followers.
They are at the same time musicians, initiators and healers, blending African and Arabo-Berber customs. Despite being Muslims, the Gnawa base their ritual on djinn (spirits) straight from the the African cult of possession.
The most spectacular and important ceremony is the Lila, whose function is essentially therapeutic.
During the celebration the maâlem and his group call on the saints and supernaturel entities to take possession of their followers who fall into trance."

Friday, May 9, 2008

A culture cluster. The Khatt Foundation

Founded by HUDA SMITSHUIJZEN ABIFARES, WILLEM VELTHOVEN, OMAR SAIF GHOBASH, PROF. DR JAN JUST WITKAM, to endorse and advance the calligraphy culture in the middle east, the Khatt Foundation is a non-profit cultural foundation dedicated to design research and cultural exchange between Europe and the Arab World.


Sunday, May 4, 2008

illustrators: brownbook's art issue

illustrated by delicatessen for brownbook issue nine.


Thursday, May 1, 2008


An enveloping garment usually made of leather and a special dye from India called ‘bogum’, that covers the leather and gives it its golden appearance. The Burqa is usually worn by elder women and is commonly used in the United Arab Emirates.


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

blog: The Ganzeer Arts Collective - Erratic Fantastic

The minds behind this rather long overdue advancement in the Arab design belong to Ganzeer, who describe themselves as a ‘new experimental design unit’. Based out of Cairo, the Ganzeer team and their mishmash of talents combine together to produce and present their new creative expression to the world. Speaking to Mohammed Fahmy - the creative/visual expert and founder of Ganzeer, and Mohammed El-Motasem - creator of all film/motion based projects, we were able to get an insight into the inner workings of these crazy cats from Cairo.

Fahmy is the instigator for Ganzeer, who decided to start something new after spending his time working for an internet company. Tired by being chained to his desk, he longed to branch out into his own space, an inventive, new space where art could be created and new ventures could be born.

Upon asking them what kind of message they initially wanted to communicate through Ganzeer, their list was no small matter, reflecting the many scopes and genres they had no qualms in developing. Fahmy (code name ‘Mofa’) states the aims of the collective as, “Healthier lifestyles, positive attitudes, activism, making the world better, and love”. El-Motasem (code name ‘Tasem) fared no better in finding a single message that Ganzeer emitted, “Rebelliousness, activism, pro-activity and awareness - especially political awarenes”.

With all these purposes and aims to achieve, it is no surprise that Ganzeer have such a vast and varied portfolio. A look at their website gives you an idea of the exhaustive amount of projects they have lent their creativity to. What’s more impressive is the flexibility and the wide range of projects they can adapt to, there appears to be no bounds to their talent - the section on their project list marked ‘Misc.’ alone will intimidate you. Their projects range from producing corporate branding to producing murals to be used as interiors in public stores and restaurants.

Speaking to Fahmy about the need for Ganzeer in the regional market, he described his reasonings into three different motivations. “I’ve always had a belief that you can create awesome art that truly communicates and brings out the positive in audiences via the usual commercial venues. That was one angle, the other was a desire in creating a true synergy between the arts; architecture, graphic design, photography, music etc - everything at its core is very much related, and when these different mediums interconnect and merge on different projects, the outcome can be astoundingly awesome. The third drive was a desire to bring out the local cultures to the scene. These cultures are part of our make, and play a strong part in shaping our characters and lifestyles and mindsets”.


Saturday, April 19, 2008

Profile: Noun Ya

Since 2004, Naissam JALAL & Yann PITTARD perform together their "mystical and erotical" music from Extreme-East to Extreme-West (Cairo, Paris, festival Jazz à Vannes...).
They’ve developed some original orchestration’s technic : they’re only TWO but you can hear more (sometimes playing oud like a percussion, singing and blowing at the same time, with live loops...).
There’s NO synthetiser and NO pre-recorded samples, just live performing.

They also work with Rayess_bek, orchestral hip-hop from Middle-east.
Individually, they perform with several bands from Mexico to Tokyo via Cairo, Beirut and Kolkata.

check out the video on their myspace.


Thursday, April 17, 2008

blogger: Dear God

Dear God is a global project for people around the world to share their innermost hopes - and fears - through prayer.
It doesn’t matter what your version of God is…Jesus, Allah, Buddha or simply a spiritual universal energy… praying to a higher power soothes and heals. It’s scientifically proven that people who pray are healthier, happier and more resilient.


via: thecoolhunter.net

Monday, April 14, 2008

Arab Film Festival - Berkley, LA

The Arab Film Festival is now accepting submissions for it’s 12th Annual Arab Film Festival, to be held in the San Francisco Bay Area and in Los Angeles October 16th - 31st 2008. AFF is the oldest and largest annual showcase of works by independent Arab filmmakers that provide insightful and innovative perspectives on Arab culture, art, history and politics. Founded in 1996 to display Arab culture to American audiences through the medium of film, AFF has grown into an important bridge between the Arab world, Arab-American communities, and the broader American public. The Arab Film Festival provides a unique venue for Arab filmmakers to screen their work, meet other filmmakers and make connections for future project.

Deadline: 15th April.


Thursday, April 10, 2008

brownbook's new office

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Sajjadah 1426 - Prayer Rug by Soner Ozenc

A prayer rug is a small and portable carpet that Muslims put on the floor when they perform their prayers. Its main function is to provide a clean and isolated platform for the prayer. With the specific patterns on its surface, it also aims to bring the atmosphere of a mosque to wherever they take it.

Muslims pray five times a day. The only product they need to perform their prayers is a prayer rug. And there is one thing they need to be careful about: the holy city of Mecca a” the direction towards which they should perform their prayers.

As one of the main aims of a~Sajjadah 1426′ was to emphasize the values of the patterns on the prayer rug, lighting those patterns up was considered as the main approach from the very first stages of the concept. There were several technology alternatives to achieve this effect: mini LEDs, fibre optics, EL wire embroidery and EL panel. After the experiments done, the most appropriate one turned out to be the Electro Luminescent Phosphore Printing technology. EL wire embroidery has also been explored during the research part and a~mini glow wire’ was ordered from the UK-based company Surelight Ltd.

‘Sajjadah 1426′ indicates the direction via the data coming from a compass module embedded inside it. The closer to the direction of Mecca it is turned, the brighter the patterns illuminate.

‘Sajjadah 1426′ enriches the praying experience with the illuminated patterns on its surface. The word ’sajjadah’ is a Persian/Turkish word meaning ‘prayer rug’ and the number ‘1426′ stands for ‘2005′ in Islamic calendar.

Designer: Soner Ozenc