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Part 2 Project 2009
Nick Sinden
Derek Draper
University of Greenwich, UK
Cairo: The Egyptians mastered the extreme climate and harnessed the rhythms of the Nile; forming a place of local industry, commercialism, community spirit and vibrant city life.

Today, Cairo is a microcosm of the world’s problems. A walk through its streets reveals the living embodiment of every ‘Global Issue’ on every corner. Where once there were farms, now displaced communities reside in informal(illegal)housing; living off the detritus of the city.

In “The City of the Dead” a population of the cities urban poor inhabit an ancient burial site on the edge of the city. Within this community a commercially popular market has been established beneath the shade of the motorway flyover. The market deals in goods recycled or salvaged from the cities burgeoning waste streams. This community provides hope, by breathing new life into the waste created from today’s Cairene lifestyle. This community embodies historic Cairo life and attempts to rectify its contemporary problems. It is a prime candidate for a project that begins the resurrection of the City.

The project aims to devise a phased new infrastructure which respects the community’s complexity. Issues of Water distribution and purification, transport, energy, waste, food production, social growth and economics are dealt with at a community level to produce a society with a symbiotic relationship with the surrounding natural environment.

The surviving Merchants houses and the writings of Hassan Fathy offered important clues as to how life in this dense city can be enhanced and the extreme climate made bearable. The project is inspired by these cool havens within the city and especially the traditional understanding of the principles of evaporative cooling. The project necessitated exploring the technicalities of how this ancient technique could be reinterpreted in a way that provides opportunity for local business and expressions of personal identity.

Growing out of the traditions of Islamic cities, a new civic infrastructure with phased neighborhood additions and individual interpretation, offers a lifestyle based around cool courtyards linked by the Bazaar.
Cooperative neighborhoods under high level aqueducts, plentiful plants and shaded cool courts.
RESURRECTION for The City of the Dead!

Nick Sinden
Derek Draper

This project is an impressive collaborative effort from two students producing a rich atmosphere of sensitive and thoughtful debate between each other, within the atelier and with the students from CAIRO and the residents of the City of the Dead.
Working in an atelier encouraging students to explore the infrastructure implications of climate change on the worlds expanding dense cities, encouraging students to investigate new cooperative neighborhoods living slower local lifestyles, building on centuries of traditions, knowledge and understanding of coping with extreme climatic and environmental conditions.

This project seeks to work with the skills, knowledge and resources of the Residents of the City of the dead. Two field trips to Cairo and workshops with Architecture students from MSA University allowed a unique opportunity to explore and investigate the complexities of Cairo's poorest communities. As the desert advances, and the water table sinks lower, agricultural land disappears beneath advancing illegal housing and pollution of the air and water worsens with every passing year there is sadly no clear strategy planned for how to reverse these trends. The government still invests in widening motorways while the pollution and abuse of the cities water channels goes unchecked.

Within this complex economic political and social backdrop the students weaved a phased intricate proposal being built in layers at a variety of civic, neighborhood and individual scales. Their proposal attempts to illustrate how this strategy works at the individual scale through the development of a local industry fabricating terracotta cooling pots filled with damp sand. These small units build on ancient traditions and offer an infinite range of individual interpretation and individual artistic and creative expression.
At the neighborhood scale the framed structures offer a vast array of pockets of space open to occupation and inhabitation, storage racks for the cities recycling market.
At the civic scale the infrastructure network of waste, power and water (aqueducts)are set out to define the edges of the courts, bazaars and neighborhoods.

Mr Alistair Barr

Roger Seijo
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