Bettina Kolb, Heidi Dumreicher



This paper argues that the hamm.m – the Islamic public bath – has a double value from the point of view of cultural heritage: it is a valuable historical building with a rich architecture and specific cultural phases. It is also a socio-cultural heritage. The HAMMAM EU funded study confirms that within the case study hammams in five different countries around the Mediterranean, there is a vivid social life and specific washing ceremonies and festive rituals that are still being practiced. Not only did the study presented in this paper examined the architectural value of such a building, but it did also examine the social meanings of the hamm.m and their contribution to a common  collective memory. With its current contemporary social life and its associated practices of traditions and rituals for the washing procedures within the bath, the hamm.m has the potential to be a “living cultural heritage” and can contribute to a contemporary quality of life for clients, neighbours and visitors. This paper describes the method of photo interview, as a practical visual tool to explore the social meanings of space.


Hammam; cultural heritage; social life; public space; photo interviews

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