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Unmasking Cairo: The Architecture of the City in an Age of Contradictions

Unmasking Cairo: The Architecture of the City in an Age of Contradictions

Date(s) - 02/26/2021
4:00 am

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Free USD
Contact Person:



Hazem Zinada, PHD


About this Event

Underpinning this symposium is a hypothesis that a distinct phase in Cairo’s urban/architectural and socio-economic histories started to take shape in the last decade of the twentieth century – that the 2011 Egyptian uprising was symptomatic of a longer wave of changes in Cairo’s ‘city making’ that arguably started in the early-1990s. Since then, Cairo has witnessed a sharpening of socio-economic and political contradictions that have profoundly transformed its physical fabric along with its experiences, perceptions and cognitive mapping. In Cairo, the urban seems to overwhelm the architecture. Yet, the judicious eye discerns architecture’s potent role in Cairo’s ongoing urban change. As contributors to this symposium argue, architectural developments – among the city’s primary productive industries and recent sources of wealth-generation – are key to deciphering Cairo’s contradictory condition. The socio-economic problems suffered by Cairo and similar cities of the Global South may be more acute or apparent, but are far from absent in cities of the North, particularly since the 2008 Recession and the post-2011 waves of immigration. The theoretical discourse on Cairo’s contemporary architecture and its socio-economic contradictions resonates well beyond its limits.

Symposium Schedule

09.00 am – 09.15 am Welcome & Symposium Introduction

09.15 am – 10.45 am El Kharaba: Manufacturing Ruins in a Cairo Historic Quarter (30 min), Dr. Dalia Wahdan

Cairo: Trace(s) of Deconstructed Urban Presence (30 min), Dr. Mona Abdelwahab

Discussant: Dr. Aya Nassar (15 min)

Q & A (15 min)

10.45 am-11.00 am Tea / coffee Break

11.00 am – 12.30 pm Tahrir Square under Siege: Dismantling the Multitude (30 min), Dr. Heba Raouf Ezzat

Strange familiar: Unpacking al-‘Imara Typology in Cairo (30 min), Dr. Hazem Ziada

Discussant: Dr. Amir Gohar (15 min)

Q & A (15 min)

12.30 pm – 01.15 pm Lunch break

01.15 pm – 02.45 pm The Political Economy of Imageability: The Role of Architectural Visualizations in the Making of the New Administrative Capital in Egypt (30 min), Dr. Khaled Adham

‘Maybe’ Liberalism Inside: Unmasking the Urbanization of Promises behind Cairo’s Gated Communities (30 min), Dr. Momen al-Husseiny.

Discussant: Dr. Nicholas Simcek Arese (15 min)

Q & A (15 min)

02.45 pm – 03.00pm Tea / coffee Break

03.00 pm – 04.30 pm Militarised Urbanism and Resilient Spaces of Protest: Narrating Cairo’s Hybrid Urban Scenery (30 min), Dr. Wael Fahmy

Urban Diplomacy, and Stakeholder-led interventions in the Aftermath of Egypt’s Arab Spring – Examining an Alternative Approach to Improving Public Space in Cairo (30 min), Seif El Rashidi

Discussant: Dr. Hazem Ziada (15 min)

Q & A (15 min)

04.30 pm – 04.45 pm Tea / coffee Break

04.45 pm – 05.30pm Panel Discussion & Closing Remarks


Dr. Mona Abdelwahab is Associate Professor in Architecture at the Arab Academy for Science, Technology & Maritime Transport, Cairo.

Dr. Khaled Adham is Associate Professor of Architecture and Urban Planning, and a research affiliate at Leibnitz-Zentrum Moderner Orient, Berlin.

Dr. Momen al-Husseiny is Assistant Professor at the Department of Architecture, American University in Cairo.

Seif El Rashidi is an architectural historian with 20 years of expertise working on heritage preservation and managing projects related to promoting public engagement with heritage and culture. He is currently Director of the Barakat Trust, London.

Dr. Heba Raouf Ezzat is Assistant Professor at the Department of Political Science and International Relations, Ibn Haldun University Istanbul, Turkey.

Dr. Wael Fahmy is Professor of Architecture and Urban Design at Helwan University in Cairo, Egypt, and visiting academic at University of Manchester.

Dr. Dalia Wahdan is Associate Professor at the School of Global Affairs and Public Policy, American University in Cairo. She is also research and policy consultant and founder of Amaruna for Urban Studies.

Dr. Hazem Ziada is Senior Lecturer in Architecture and Director of the Master in Architecture and the MA in Advanced Architectural Design Programmes at the School of Art, Design & Architecture, University of Huddersfield.


Dr. Nicholas Simcik Arese is University Lecturer in Architecture and Urban Studies and Director of the MPhil in Architecture and Urban Studies (History/Theory) at the Department of Architecture, Cambridge University. He is Fellow of Gonville and Caius College and Director of Studies for Gonville & Caius and Clare Colleges.

Dr. Amir Gohar is Senior Lecturer in Landscape Architecture and Director of the Master in Landscape Architecture Programme at the School of Art, Design & Architecture, University of Huddersfield.

Dr. Aya Nassar is Assistant Professor, Economy and Culture & Geographies of Life, at the Department of Geography, Durham University.

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