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Design Without Representation In Medieval Egypt

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Chapter Summary

Today when we think of architecture we immediately think of design, the creative act of conceptualizing a project in all its functional, spatial, structural, mechanical, and decorative components and then representing this conceptualization to all parties concerned: the client, the contractor, the builders, the users, and so on. This chapter explains how and, in a more tentative vein, why ʿAbd al-Latif al-Baghdadi?s note highlights a different and uncommon definition of design that does not obtain in our regular histories. The author's interpretation is a tribute to Oleg Grabar, who taught generations of art and architectural historians how to allow educated speculation to inform alternative readings of the limited available historical evidence. Designers with a combination of conceptualizing and rendering skills?with varying emphasis on one or the other depending on available technologies, training, and sociocultural context?appear from at least as early as ancient Egypt.

Keywords: ʿAbd al-Latif al-Baghdadi; ancient Egypt; architectural historians; design; Oleg Grabar



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