Against Gravity

Sami Kayani

Full Paper
A Study of the Use of Historical Antique Elements inside Masjid Al Haram, Makkah
Dismantling the Ottoman Riwaqs inside one of the holiest precincts in the Muslim world revealed an interesting system of assembly employed by stone masons from as early as 16th century.
The complete Riwaqs have over time been subject to additions and part demolishing however the Ottoman courtyard has primarily retained its original structure. Each phase of the Riwaqs has been dismantled piece by piece and carefully studied.

This paper will present methods used by early survey teams on site, prior to the dismantling process and the traditional systems of construction that emerged during and after the dismantling procedure. The traditional assembly comprising of separate elements as, arble base, column and capital, reveal stone mason details that would be almost impossible to reconstruct using pre-manufactured design elements.

Another point of interest but indirectly related, the majority of the historic elements dismantled were found to be spolia from antiquity that were incorporated into the grand design layout. Some questions that the paper may address, what methods employed allowed for variation of elements to be used and how much of the original design intent is possible to replicate?

Other issues that will become apparent will be the challenges survey teams face when working with historic constructions and which of the historic methods (if any) are Architects potentially able to extrapolate from a traditional structure towards a Riwaq reconstruction project in the 21st century.