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Commendation

Blurred Boundaries: A Communal Centre in Khan El-Khalili

Part 1 Project 2007
Seif Shawky
Arab Academy of Science & Technology, Cairo Cairo Egypt
An anarchic Khan El-Khalili is in dire need of a 'relief valve', a spatial medium to inhabit and personalize. The communal centre acts as a collective heart, restoring autonomy and solidarity within the community.

'Landmark' architecture is abandoned in which a clear-cut centerpiece is isolated from its adjacencies; rather a "Blurred Boundary" is formed through the gradual densification/manipulation of built matter making the transition between exterior and interior almost imperceptible. A permeable envelope composed of raw low-grade wooden studs coincides ideally with the site perimeter. Within this envelope local alabaster from Beni Suef is used to create a translucent radiating library.

Seif Shawky


The brief calls for the creation of a communal centre in Khan El-Khalili, considered an integral part of old Fatimid Cairo. The communal centre provides the basic public needs; a library, a flexible exhibition space, and a workshop area. The center is to act as an educational center to revive the artisanal crafts the area which it is famous for and raise a cultural awareness of new arts.
Seif's bold approach was to create a building of minimal imposition that was neither a "landmark" nor a submissive imitation of the context.

2007
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