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CUT (Cairo Urban Tours)

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CUT — Cairo Urban Tours — explore areas, initiatives and pioneer projects in different parts of the city, featuring itineraries through Cairo’s typical urban conditions: the deteriorating urban core, encroaching informal areas, and expanding desert cities. Unveiling the characteristics and features of these areas, as well as engaging active institutions and community-based organizations within, these tours highlight some of Cairo’s most pressing urban issues and the priorities of local communities. Within the context of the Egypt Urban Forum, these tours seek to enrich and ground the urban discourse and academic concepts in local practice and everyday experience. The CUT tours seek to provide a framework for discussion of current urban policies, and point towards more responsive programs and effective projects. Designed and organized by  CLUSTER (Cairo Lab for Urban Studies, Training and Environmental Research), the CUT tours feature six distinct itineraries: Downtown, Islamic Cairo, Izbat Khayrallah, Ard al-Liwa, 6th of October City and New Cairo.

Urban Core

Downtown


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 Islamic Cairo


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Informal Areas

Ard al-Liwa


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Izbat Khayrallah


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New Cities

6th of October City


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 New Cairo


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Downtown


Photo courtesy of CLUSTER, Mapping Workshop organized by CLUSTER and University of Sheffield, Downtown Cairo tour, February 2015

Downtown Tour (Tour Leader: Ahmad Al-Bindari)

The city center comprises the area adjacent to the historic core to the east, as well as its planned western and northern extensions undertaken in the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century, including urban renewal projects dating from the mid-20th century. The Downtown Tour will examine locations and typological conditions, as well as challenges and opportunities, found in the urban core in general and the city center in particular. This tour highlights Downtown’s architectural heritage and cosmopolitan cultural legacy, drawing attention to the impact of rapid political and urban changes over the past few years on public space Downtown. The Downtown Tour investigates the causes and manifestations of urban deterioration, while exploring recent projects for revitalization and development by local authorities, the private sector, and civil society organizations, with particular emphasis on the role of art and cultural institutions as urban catalysts.

Islamic Cairo


Photo courtesy of CLUSTER, Urban Design Workshop organized by CLUSTER and ETH-Zurich, Urban Core tour, October 2014

Islamic Cairo Tour (Tour Leader: May al-Ibrashy)

The capital of Egypt was relocated from Alexandria in the north to the southern tip of the Delta with the Islamic conquest in 641 AD. Over the next three centuries, the capital shifted northward from al-Fustat in the south to walled al-Qahirah in 969 AD, when the new Fatimid capital was founded. Cairo continued to expand in all directions, while retaining an Islamic core along its main spine (Qasabat al-Mu‘iz), as a vibrant living settlement. The Islamic Cairo tour concentrates on the history of this urban core, including the residential quarters and adjacent historic cemeteries, and their shifting relationship to the modern city. It also looks at issues of conservation, and their relationship to wider questions of policy and governance, conflicting rights to heritage and public space, and the politics and economics of urban development and upgrading. The Islamic Cairo tour draws special attention to the rapid political and urban changes over the past few years and their impact on the historic fabric.

Ard al-Liwa


Photo courtesy of CLUSTER, Urban Design Workshop organized by CLUSTER and ETH-Zurich, Informal Areas tour, October 2014

Ard al-Liwa Tour (Tour Leader: Omar Nagati)

Ard al-Liwa is one of the informal areas located in the Giza Governorate which has been developed on agricultural land since the early 1970s.  It is located between Bulaq al-Dakrur to its south and Imbaba to the north. Ard al-Liwa demonstrates a strong relationship between informal areas and the planned city, as it is bordered by two traffic arteries and regional roads: the railway and al-Zumur Canal that separate it from al-Muhandisin to the east, and the Ring Road separating it from al-Mu‘tamidiya village on its western edge. The area covers around 470 acres, and its population has reached approximately 300,000 people. The area contains numerous services and small industries, including print shops, woodwork and metal shops.  The interface between Ard al-Liwa and al-Muhandisin presents an example of the juxtaposition and interdependence between informal and formal areas, despite the often distressed relationship at their interface, as exemplified by the railway crossing.

Izbat Khayrallah


Photo courtesy of CLUSTER, May 2015

Izbat Khayrallah Tour (Tour Leader: Hassan Elmouehli)

Izbit Khayrallah is located on a rocky plateau to the north of Ma‘adi district. It covers ​​480 acres, and is part of four different administrative districts. By the mid-1970s residents from Upper Egypt and rural areas began populating this desert stretch, in search of affordable housing in close proximity to work opportunities in Cairo, building their own residential units without services or planned infrastructure. In 1984, the residents filed a lawsuit demanding their rights to own the land on which they live, and a ruling was made in their favor in 1999. During this period, the Ring Road was constructed, dividing the area into two parts. The larger area remained to its north, with the smaller southern section often referred to as “Istabl ‘Antar”. The Ring Road construction resulted in an improved connectivity between Izbat Khayrallah and other parts of the city, and consequently a substantial increase in real-estate value in the area. The current population of Izbit Khayrallah is estimated to be approximately 650,000 inhabitants.

6th of October


Photo courtesy of CLUSTER, Urban Design Workshop organized by CLUSTER and ETH-Zurich, Desert Cities tour, October 2014

6th of October City Tour (Tour Leader: Nabil Elhady)

Founded in 1981, and located to the west of Greater Cairo, 6th of October City is the largest new town, approximately 400 km2 in area with a target population of 5.5 million inhabitants. In comparison with other new towns outside Cairo, 6thof October City has experienced the most rapid growth, providing an insight into broader development trends among the eight new towns planned around Cairo. A cross section of the city reveals a range of activities and services, including universities, hospitals, office parks and commercial strips, in addition to an industrial zone and a variety of housing development types, from public housing to gated communities. Despite being fairly close to central Cairo (about 35 km via the 26th of July corridor), construction and population growth in 6th of October City has been disappointingly slow compared to the original plan. Thirty-two years after its founding, there are fewer than 200,000 permanent residents in the area, with a majority of newly constructed houses and apartments either unfinished or unoccupied.

New Cairo


Photo courtesy of CLUSTER, Urban Design Workshop organized by CLUSTER and ETH-Zurich, Desert Cities tour, October 2014

New Cairo Tour (Tour Leader: Dina Shehayeb)

Located 15 km from Ma‘adi, and 10 km from Nasr City, New Cairo occupies an area of 350 km2. Its total population is 119,000 inhabitants, according to the census of 2006, with a target population of 6 million inhabitants. New Cairo contains a total of 187,000 housing units; 34,000 of which were implemented by the New Urban Communities Authority, the other 153,000 of which were built by the private sector. One of New Cairo’s main features is the Ninety Spine (Shari‘ al-Tis‘in) which is flanked by major commercial and office towers and high-end residential mansions. New Cairo hosts a large number of universities and learning institutions, and despite the lack of an industrial zone (compared to 6th of the October city), its proximity to al-‘Ubur City as well as the Suez and ‘Ayn al-Sukhnah regional roads offers the potential for extension and access to land for future development.