Ramses Wissa Wassef

The Architect

Ramses Wissa Wassef- an Egyptian architect, born in 1911 and educated in Cairo. Received his architectural studies at L’ Ecole des Beaux-Arts de Paris. Ramses returned to Egypt in 1936, he was asked with others in 1938 to start the architectural department at the College of Fine Arts- Cairo. Ramses taught both history of art and architecture. In 1969 he was elected the head of the department till his death in 1974. Ramses also practiced as an architect, his first love was designing buildings in vernacular style, using traditional materials. The art Center at Harrania and the private houses in the area are a good example of this. He also designed several Coptic churches and the Moktar National sculpture museum. Ramses Wissa Wassef received the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 1983.

The Stain glass designer

He was renowned for the design of stain glass windows which he personally constructed for many of the buildings that he designed or renovated such as the churches, many private houses, the shouting club in Cairo, the Palestine hotel in Alexandria and the national assembly building in Cairo. Ramses won the Egyptian National prize for art and science in 1960.

The potter

Ramses passion was pottery, he experimented with many local types of clay to produce “Stoneware ceramic” for every day house hold use. The kiln too, is his own design and patterned in his name. Suzanne his daughter is still continuing to use these clay mixes, personal glaze formulas and firing in kilns built in the same design principals.

Awards

Egyptian National award for the arts

1961 for his stained-glass window designs for The St Mary Church, Marashly street- Zamalek, Cairo.

The Aga-Khan architectural award

When the Ramses Wissa Wassef Art Center, won the prestigious Aga Khan award for architecture in 1983, the awarding committee eloquently summed up the project as follows: "For the beauty of its execution, the high value of its objectives, as well as the power of its influence as an example. For its role as a Center of art and of life, as represented by its location,its endurance, its continuity, and its promise. The project is perfectly adapted to its environment, enhancing the role of earth as a building material and demonstrating innovation in the organization of volumes and its subtle use of light.

The career of Ramses Wissa Wassef was entirely devoted to art, which he regarded as the best means of communication between human beings. His pioneering teaching method was an act of love and faith in the potential of the child.

He proved that nothing was impossible if one’s intelligence Stemmed from the hart and if one’s artistic sensibility were genuine enough.