Outlining a Sirocco Approach

Sirocco (from the Arabic, sharq, which means “East”) is a term which refers to the seasonal winds that originate in the Sahara Desert, move across the Mediterranean Sea, and later transform the climate of Spain (where it is also called Siroco and sometimes Leveche), Portugal (Xaroco), France (Marín), Italy (Sirocco or Scirocco), and countries farther east like Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan where the wind system is called Simoom.

map slide courtesy of http://www.weatheronline.co.uk

In terms of their eastward movement also also as a kind of metaphor for cultural connections, these wind patterns connect North Africa, Andalusia, and though indirectly, India (the Roma motherland), and are an endless source of creative inspiration especially in flamenco song lyrics and compositions.

Paco_De_Lucia-Siroco-FrontalThe Sirocco’s movement across the Mediterranean can be understood as a metaphor for the complex history of groups that encountered, re-encountered, or, perhaps in most basic terms “crossed” in places like Andalusia (Roma, Sephardic Jews, Berbers, Moors, and West African “negros libres” were some of those groups). The crossing of these cultural groups transformed Andalusia and, to varying extents, other areas marked by the Sirocco winds. The wind system, then, embodies a trajectory that mirrors incredible cultural and artistic crossings. That is our inspiration: to explain the wind system, to explain how it generates other wind systems, and to discuss the montage of cultural patterns that the Sirocco embodies.

Though we are particularly fascinated by Andalusia and Andalusian influence on new world forms (forms that carry reference to the Sirocco, sometimes literally and sometimes  metaphorically) wind system appears in the incredible work of Kiev-born artist, Elena Kotliarker, who invokes Kabbalah and Jewish symbolism in her work:

sirocco elena

The Sirocco winds have impacted architectural forms in Sicily, too. A Manfredi Saeli and Enrico Saeli article in the Journal of Cultural Heritage explores the topic. These Sirocco rooms were underground because of the extreme heat that the winds carried from North Africa. Related to this study, a sustainable approach to modern building techniques in Sicily produced this fascinating statement:

“The traditional architecture of the Mediterranean Basin has been strongly influenced by the particular climatic and environmental conditions, by respecting in an unconscious way the sustainable criteria, which many contemporary architects tend to. Actually, the “Sirocco’s Room” typical of the old villas in the countryside of Palermo, the “Covoli” of Costozza as well as the Iranian “Towers of wind”, were able to guarantee the comfort inside the buildings without energetic consumption. So, the sun and the wind have become the “design materials” that we have used in order to renovate the building.” (Corrao, Balsamo, Calabrò, Di Stefano, Spera)

The Towers of Wind of Iran, lines of continuity emerge through the architectural “response” to the wind and climate system.

The Sirocco has impacted architectural forms from Persia to Italy to Spain. Consciously or unconsciously, it becomes embedded in many types of cultural forms, and those forms generate spaces and cultural practices.

We look forward to sharing more on this topic, the “operational system” of this blog and source of inspiration for our creative work in writing, photography, and even study abroad program development.



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