Besim S. Hakim

Besim S. Hakim, FAICP, AIA, professional studies were completed at Liverpool University and the Architectural Association in the UK and at the Graduate School of Design at Harvard. Our interview with him is posted here. His ongoing research is on rule systems and customary laws in traditional architecture within the unique contexts of the Cyclades islands in Greece, Spain, Italy and Northern Nigeria coupled with his previous findings from North Africa and the Middle East will, accumulatively, provide a fertile base of insight in how quality was achieved in the built environment of numerous geographic/cultural contexts. He has explored the possibilities of transferring the lessons to the contemporary context: particularly in the areas of management, decision-making structures and code formulations for town planning purposes. The ultimate goal is the creation of the necessary legislative and technical mechanisms that would ensure the achievement of high quality in the built environment of contemporary towns and suburbs, as well as the revitalization of historic and heritage districts.

Professor Hakim’s publications (books, articles and technical reports) cover the following areas of inquiry: Architectural Pedagogy, Culture and Built Form, and Urban Design/Planning. He has published a book titled Arabic-Islamic Cities: Building and Planning Principles, Kegan Paul International, London 1986, addressing the factors that shaped traditional cities in North Africa, with particular emphasis in identifying the underlying rules and customary practices. The book received excellent reviews and was awarded a Citation for Research by Progressive Architecture in 1987. It was translated to Japanese and published in Tokyo in late 1990. A Farsi translation was published in Tehran in 2002, and an Arabic translation was published in Cairo in 2015. The book has had wide influence on recent research and related publications, and on numerous PhD dissertations. His latest book published by Springer in September 2014, is titled Mediterranean Urbanism: Historic Urban/Building Rules and Processes, covers Greece, Italy, and Spain and a resume of the book is available at

Professor Hakim has also published extensively in professional and scholarly-refereed journals, and was responsible for planning projects, which were adopted by the respective local governments in Halifax, N.S. and Albuquerque, NM.  His biography is published in Who’s Who in the World  and  Who’s Who in America. Some of his work can be viewed and downloaded from:


Video: Lecture at ISB Summer School by Besim Hakim

Dan Klyn