As an architect/ artist, an Egyptian/ American my work reflects the dynamics between independent forces which at times are rendered harmonious. These forces are so vivid in my research of the Cairo’s urban condition.
The extreme case of Cairo’s informal development has many lessons for us in the developed world. A closer look reveals a resilient model marked by effective self-organization that stands in sharp contrast to the failures of its formal counterpart. Although plagued with problems of infrastructure, health, education and government services, Cairo’s informal city has many virtues that are far beyond its physical existence. When one considers systemic government marginalization, extreme lack of resources, suffocating urban density, social stigmatization, it’s hard to fathom how these communities survive at all let alone thrive, expand and upgrade themselves. My work reaches into Cairo’s informal communities and pulls out the virtues embodied in their built environment. These urbanscapes tell stories of tight social networks, self-sufficiency, complex architectural layering, and an abundance of youthful optimism. I aim is to translate the textured surfaces of these cavernous spaces which are like tall blankets, accessorized with colorful clothes lines, into various mediums and surfaces to convey their inherent sense of agility and adaptability. My work is fed by the substance that makes these communities ALIVE.