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1 July 2015 / marouhhussein

From Seoul to Cairo: Public Space Projects and the Socially Sustainable City

The following is an excerpt from Abdelbaseer Mohamed’s “From Seoul to Cairo: Public Space Projects and the Socially Sustainable City” article. Follow the link below the text for the full article.

Cairo, a mega city, is facing a range of socio-economic, cultural and environmental problems. The city is a collection of separated socio-spatial patterns and diverse ideologies, with insufficient public realm to bring together different community groups. Privatization of the Nile waterfront as well as the lack of green urban spaces in Cairo (1.5 square meters per capita) highlight the urgent need for a project that encourages togetherness and adds to the urban assets of the city. So, how can we integrate different groups with one another? Or how can people be encouraged to cross their ‘borders’? Reading the history of some parts of the city as well as reviewing global best practice might reveal some opportunities.port-said-cairo-2

The Transformation of Port Said Street

Port Said Street, formerly Shari’ Al Khalij al Masri, was the canal that was ceremoniously opened during annual floods to allow river water to run through the city. It had connected the Nile with the Red Sea since ancient Egypt, pharaonic times. However, centuries of instability saw the canal closed, reopened and renamed. Despite this, the city grew significantly, encouraged by a range of factors including theKhalij canal itself as well as bridge construction. However, this growth was not experienced equally, with some districts neighbouring the canal remaining nearly uninhabited until the 18th century.

In the Mamluk period in 1744, this began to change, with patches of new communities rapidly starting to emerge. Pleasure boats were navigating the Khalij, like a little Venice today. Villas were constructed along the Khalij, with the view of water and gardens and the cool breeze starting to attract a large number of emirs, who established palaces on both sides of the Canal as places of summer residence. The Khalij as well as the Nasiri Canal supplemented each other in feeding the ponds and in irrigating gardens. And despite the presence of emirs, the Khalij became a corridor of leisure and entertainment not only for the upper class but also for the public.

Click here for the full article:

Abdelbaseer A. Mohamed is an architect and urban planner. Mohamed received his MSc in Urban planning and Design from Ain Shams University, where he is currently working on his PhD. He is mainly interested in studying the influence of urban space on society adopting a configurational approach, space syntax. Mohamed is currently a Carnegie fellow at American University in Washington.

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