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Modern Egypt: New Architecture in an Ancient World

Modern Egypt: New Architecture in an Ancient World

Contemporary Egyptian architecture draws from a rich history. As a cradle of civilization, the transcontinental country has influenced diverse building styles and design cultures. Home to some of the earliest urban developments and centralized governments, Egypt is defined by its geography and its multicultural background. Today, its modern architecture must contend with a legacy of building that spans millennia.

© Essam Arafa © Rayem © Rayem © Ahmed Hossam Saafan + 14

© Rayem
© Rayem

Shaping architecture and construction around the world, Egypt's roots are tied to the Mediterranean, Africa and the Middle East. Most of the country's population is concentrated along the Nile Valley and Delta, historically avoiding the intense desert conditions of the Sahara and the Libyan Desert. While much of the world knows Egypt for its temples and tombs, the Great Sphinx, or the iconic Giza pyramid complex, the country has built many modern projects over the last decade. With the landmark Great Egyptian Museum set to open next year, the following roundup looks at contemporary projects built across Egypt. A mix of public and private projects, they reflect how architects are designing to reinterpret the country's history and traditions.

Basuna Mosque by Dar Arafa Architecture

© Essam Arafa
© Essam Arafa

The Basuna Mosque is located in the hot & arid village of Basuna, Sohag, Egypt. It is sited amidst a noisy and densely constructed area with nearby residential buildings, a cemetery, and a weekly makeshift small market right outside the main entrance of this place of worship. The new building was made to offer peace and tranquility for its users.

Bibliotheca Alexandrina by Snøhetta

© Snøhetta
© Snøhetta

The Bibliotheca Alexandrina is built on a site alongside Alexandria's ancient harbor in the historic center of the city. The 11-story library can contain up to 4 million volumes of books, and can be expanded up to 8 million by the use of compact storage. In addition to the library facilities, the library also contains other cultural and educational functions including a planetarium, several museums, a school for information science, and conservation facilities.

Wadi El Gemal Visitors Center by Egyptian Earth Construction Association

© Nour El Refai
© Nour El Refai

Located 50 km south of the Egyptian Red Sea shore town of Marsa Alam, Wadi El Gemal National Park (WGNP) was officially declared the 24th protectorate in Egypt due to its striking landscape and important cultural resources. The Visitors’ Center is located at the WGNP’s northern entrance, situated as a focal point along the Suez/Bir Shalatein seashore highway.

Kattameya Dunes Palace by Phenomena Studio - Hisham Alaa Designs

© Nour El Refai
© Nour El Refai

Architect and interior designer Hisham Alaa won the commission for this project in July 2017. The building was only a concrete skeleton already built and purchased by the owner, and the client had the desire to live in a luxurious modern palace overlooking views of Kattameya Dunes Golf course.

Cheops Observatory Residence by Studio Malka Architecture

© Rayem
© Rayem

Located on the plateau of the Giza Necropolis, the project is nestled in the village of Nazlet El Samman. This ancient site was founded in the 7th century by desert tribes fascinated by the Pyramids; the village is a preserved site. The Cheops Observatory is an artist’s residence, a gateway at the entrance of the desert, an inhabited belvedere within walking distance of the largest pyramids of the Giza plateau.

Dawar El Ezba Cultural Center by Ahmed Hossam Saafan

© Ahmed Hossam Saafan
© Ahmed Hossam Saafan

Dawar Kitchen is a social enterprise located in Ezbet Khairallah, one of Cairo’s largest informal settlements. Through catering and other forms of food production, they provide employment and vocational training for migrant, refugee and Egyptian women. The building also aims at changing the deteriorated architectural fabric by showcasing the possibilities of using existing resources to create aesthetic and functional value. 

About this author
Cite: Eric Baldwin. "Modern Egypt: New Architecture in an Ancient World" 11 May 2020. ArchDaily. Accessed . <https://www.archdaily.com/939242/modern-egypt-new-architecture-in-an-ancient-world/> ISSN 0719-8884
© Essam Arafa

现代埃及:文明古都的现代建筑

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