“The sad truth is that little of architectural quality has been built in Cairo in decades, no useful lessons learned from other big capitals, no progressive approaches to city planning embraced under Mr. Mubarak or the Muslim Brotherhood.”
Michael Kimmelman of the New York Times wrote last weekend about the post-revolutionary state of urban Cairo and the ensuing pace of illegal construction. As a local architect quoted in the piece said, “This was always a revolution about unjust urban conditions and about public space. People now realize they have the right to determine what happens on their own streets, to their own neighborhoods. So there’s a battle of ownership throughout Egypt: over whose space this is, and who determines whose space it is.”
But beyond the ruthless developers and weak law enforcement, there are those who have a vision for a more just urban metropolis.
“Progressive young architects and planners may be needed here, but there are a few starting to demand the right things, talking not about demolishing informal areas but about learning from those neighborhoods, seeing them as resources and solutions — collaborating with residents, tinkering with construction methods and materials to allow for more light and air in apartments, wider streets to accommodate emergency vehicles. These forward-thinking Egyptians view the neighborhoods not as endless slums but complex cities in themselves, home to entrepreneurs, government officials and many young educated Cairenes; and they recognize that the future of Cairo will require grass-roots organization.”
Read the entire article here.