Thesis & Dissertations

Investigating Storytelling Approach in Contemporary Architecture in Arab Islamic Cities


This thesis enquired into the 'storytelling' approach as a way of interpreting contemporary architecture in Arab Islamic cities. Storytelling is to communicate a story deftly through manifestation of narrative in order to engage an audience by inspiring their imagination to construct a new narrative in their mind. Spatial mediums establish a fertile ground for narratives if the architect employs stories in architectural making. At the core of this thesis lied the ambiguity of meanings conveyed within contemporary architecture and their unsatisfactory understanding in Arab Islamic cities. These geographies are home to global architecture practices that claim the representation of the essence of a complex and dynamic heritage by utilizing particular notions such as "Arab", "Islam", and "Islamic architecture", in order to signify meaningful architecture. In the Arab region, home to myriad religious mosaic, classical Arabic language is not only a distinctive feature of a storytelling heritage, but also the language of Islam’s holy book, the Qur'an, which is the epitome of the exceptional art of storytelling. The overall aim of the thesis was to explore architecture without prejudice and to allow the framework for analysis to expand as more themes were identified. The framework was developed from Aristotle's poetics, storytelling of the Noble Qur'an, and the intellectual endeavors of Paul Cobley, Marielaure Ryan, Marco Frascari, Rasem Badran, Samer Akkach, and Simon Unwin. An extended re-situation of significance of 'storytelling' was also included, comprised of three phases: definitions of each of "storytelling" in general and the story in Islamic Arabic Culture in particular, and the exploration of the evolution of "storytelling" in spatial representation medium. The research mapped a framework that includes contributors and components of "storytelling", and spatial representation of narrative elements that can help architecture remain relevant in order to communicate meaning in this complex, multidisciplinary and multi-everything age. After this research, an investigation was initiated into some architectural projects, including art museums, parks, and memorial museums based on the proposed framework. In the selected examples, the researcher went through all layers of the framework of investigating "storytelling" approach. The method offered an opportunity to deeply scrutinize the thoughts of the storyteller/architect and helped extricate a much deeper layer of the meanings the latter had intended to communicate. Each of the interpreted projects drew the researcher into complex layers of spatial representation and helped her explore the meaning/s of the architectural situation.


Lamis Mantash


Associate Prof. Dr. Hesham El-Arnaouty, Assistant Prof. Dr. Maged Youssef