Roula Aboukhater



The hammām is a public building which is traditionally closely linked to socio cultural norms of the society that is supposed to serve. This paper seeks to answer questions about the logic by which such buildings respond to those complex socio cultural relations and the potentials offered by their spatial structures. The hypothesis in analyzing the internal layout is based on the ability of forms to adapt to socio cultural norms of certain societies and that they could be shaped to respond to social needs and to produce appropriate behavior. This study is based on the analysis of the morphological characteristics of the internal layouts of several hammāms, the socio-historical information, the direct observation of the spaces and face to face interviews with staff especially those working in hammām Ammuna in Damascus. The main objective is to explore the following questions: 1) How are hammāms “designed” to fulfi ll users’ social needs and their well-being in the internal spaces? 2) How architectural settings in the internal spaces of the hammām are “coded” or “structured” to produce appropriate social practice or behavior? This paper demonstrates that hammāms are the witnesses of a genius locus of adaptation of a building to sociocultural norms.


Traditional architecture; public bath; well-being; users' need; socio-cultural norms; spatial layout

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