"Public space" is a legal terminology that tackles the notion of land ownership, suggesting that this type of parcel does not belong to anyone in particular, but to the state itself. Open, free, accessible to all, and financed by public money, these spaces are not only the results of planning, but the consequences of the public practices they hold. Actually, people define how public space is used and what it means.
Protests - powerful political tools for change - from the March on Washington in 1963, the Arab Spring in the early 2000s to recent Black Lives Matter Movements, are altering the world. In times like these, while people still need to "take their issues to the streets" to be heard and seen, public spaces have resurfaced as a topic of discussion.
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.
Background The Nile is a north-flowing river in Africa and is among the world’s longest waterways, famed for its ancient history and the archaeological sites along its shores. The fertile Lower Nile gave rise to early Egyptian civilisation and is still home to the Great Pyramids and Sphinx of Giza near Cairo. Sightseeing boats, from luxury liners to traditional felucca sailboats, also cruise between the cities of Luxor and Aswan. Some of the important bridges that cross the Nile
Stefano Boeri Architetti has unveiled its vision for the first vertical forests in Africa, in the Egyptian capital, Cairo. The 3 cubes or the 3 experimental edifices consisting of one hotel and two residential structures, will be part of the new administrative town plan, under construction in the southeast of the city.
Dubai Based architects Islam El Mashtooly and Mouaz Abouzaid along with Steven Velegrinis, Drew Gilbert & Abdelrahman Magdy have unveiled “LifeLines,” their vision for the future of Cairo. Centered on the idea of connecting people with water, a series of lines and paths are laid over the city to serve as a catalyst for development.
UAE based architects Mouaz Abouzaid, Bassel Omara and Ahmed Hammad have designed a shipping container housing project for Cairo, Egypt. Dubbed ‘Sheltainer’, the project aims to address a need for low-income, student and refugee housing. The design focuses on Egyptian life around a single house unit with all the necessary needs for a small family. Sheltainer aims to offer a flexible solution with new open spaces, activities and homes.
After more than a decade, Egypt has returned to its plan to construct Africa's tallest building. Sited on the Nile River in central Cairo, the skyscraper was designed by the late Zaha Hadid in 2007. President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and the government are working with the project developers, Living in Interiors, to create the twisting "Nile Tower" with a design that will rise 70 stories. Overlooking views of Cairo, the Nile and the pyramids, the project hopes to symbolize Egypt's growth and the development of the country.
Weston Williamson + Partners has won an international competition for a 125,000 square meter “Science City” along the western edge of Cairo, Egypt, beating out entries from Ngiom Partnership and Zaha Hadid Architects. The project will be built from the ground up in the desert surrounding the city, and will serve as a 21st century science museum and new national institute for scientific innovation. The competition called for an integrated master plan and conceptual design that express “a particular vision of the quest for knowledge and the pursuit of science.”
The jury selected the winning design for its overall comprehensiveness and identity, as well as its ability to be intelligently constructed in phases.
“This project was the one that best responded to the challenges of the brief. The design is subtle but rich. It involves various levels of planning,” said the jury in a statement. “It displays a blending of aspects of several of the “types” that were so visible: the circle, the striation, the berm (or dune), the legible apparatus of sustainable performance, the complex of courtyards, the oasis, etc. But the overall impact is one of a unified composition of great elegance and finesse.”
Continue reading for more on Weston Williamson’s design and to see images from all of the winning entries.
The 2015 Shenzhen Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism exhibits, makes, and discusses architecture that reflects the reuse and rethinking of existing buildings, the re-imagination of our cities, and the remaking of our daily lives by design. It is be a biennale of fragments, not abstract plans; of collage, not grids; of tactical urbanism, not top-down strategies. The ETH Zurich Master of Advanced Studies Program in Urban Design – chaired by Marc Angélil and directed by Charlotte Malterre-Barthes – has investigated informal settlements in Cairo, looking into designs for affordable housing units in the neighborhood of Ard-el-Liwa.
Threatening to end Cairo’s 1,046 year dominance as the country’s capital, earlier this month the government of Egypt announced their intentions to create a new, yet-to-be-named capital city just east of New Cairo. The promise of the more than 270 square mile ‘new New Cairo’ has attracted headlines from around the world with its sheer scale; a $45 billion development of housing, shopping and landmarks designed to attract tourism from day one, including a theme park larger than Disneyland. And of course, the plans include the promise of homes - for at least 5 million residents in fact, with the vast number of schools, hospitals and religious and community buildings that a modern city requires - making the new capital of Egypt the largest planned city in history.
The idea of building a new capital city has appealed to governments across history; a way to wipe the slate clean, stimulate the economy and lay out your vision of the world in stone, concrete and parkland. Even old Cairo was founded as a purpose built capital, although admittedly urban planning has changed a little since then. It continues to change today; see the full list of different ways to build a totally new city after the break.
In an effort to combat the economic conditions that have plunged one-fourth of its population into poverty, Egypt's ambitious development plan for a massive new capital city is soon to be underway. Roughly the size of New Cairo, the privately-funded city hopes to become the new administrative center, as well as a bustling metropolis of shopping, housing, and tourist destinations to generate economic activity. Plans were solidified at a foreign investment conference where the official project details were unveiled on March 13 in Sharm el-Sheikh.
Read on after the break for more on the $45 billion plan.
Egypt’s Minister of Housing Moustafa Madbouly has revealed plans to build the nation’s tallest tower in Cairo. The pyramid-like Zayed Crystal Spark tower will top out at 200-meters (656-feet) and occupy a 798,000-square-meter parcel in the city’s Sheikh Zayed district - a short distance from the historic pyramids of Giza.
The following essay, written by Magda Mostafa, is an excerpt from the book "Learning from Cairo: Global Perspectives and Future Visions,"a collection of reflections from a three-day symposium of the same name. Here, Mostafa focuses on the need to accept informal communities as a reality, not an exception, and argues that conventional architecture practice and education must begin equipping architects to "address the potentials and problems of such parallel modes of existence in our built environment."
It would be a disservice if the debate spurred at the "Learning from Cairo" symposium were to remain confined to the hypothetical. It is our responsibility to extend it to both the professional realm as well as the academic. The purpose of this discussion is just that.
How can architectural academia respond to this shifting climate? A climate where the majority of the built environment is conceived and implemented outside of the construct of conventional practice? Where the majority of the architectural product in our city exists without architects? How can we further propagate a singular top-down mode of practice in our teaching when it’s malfunctioning at best and corrupt or absent at its worst? When this conventional mode is only viable in neatly packaged projects with clear financing, educated clients and formal frameworks? How can we continue to teach our students, the architects of the future generation, to only be equipped to operate within a small portion of the built environment- ignoring the massive built environment and user groups often represented on maps as solid black “informal areas”.
This phenomena can no longer be blacked-out, and it is time for academia to begin educating its architects-to-be at least to be minimally aware, if not proficiently trained, to address the potentials and problems of such parallel modes of existence in our built environment.
Intended as a catalyst and model for the ongoing redevelopment of Cairo, Egypt,ZELLNERPLUS, OLIN, PACER, MR+E, and Nelson Nygaard proposed a scheme that seeks to bridge the gap between the medieval, or Islamic, and the axial, or European Cairene cities. They would do so through the evacuation of the competition zone of its current disconnected fabrics. In their place, they proposed a green urban archipelago made up of a new connective tissue that will weld together the competition site’s disparate functions, flows and neighboring fabrics. More images and architects’ description after the break.