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Between Us

Role: Curator.

Year : 2020.

Credits : Mohamed Hamed.




We started by asking ourselves the question “How will we live together”, in other words, we thought, “what are the challenges facing our life together within the city?”

Cairo is a city of abundant heritage, architectural built environment is its living monument of time. The city is made up of incremental sprawls with significant differences and scales. The city compartments don’t seem to follow a seamless expansion plan, they are rather heterogeneous and fragmented with accentuated class division, spatial inequality and tension. What intensifies this is the presence of “physical barriers” spread all over the city affecting our visual, mental, psychological recordings and eventually the image of our city. This entry tries to spotlight over two things - the problem & means for solution- on the barriers limiting our city chances and separating it apart, while showing means for negotiating the differences by addressing the vitality of in-between public space ( city lungs ) that give chance for social and cultural encounters.


Means of Delegation 


Our pavilion address the time and its reflection on spatial segregation, fragmentation, shift in public domain, accessibility. We are tackling the problem in order to start a conversation on means for a solution in order to find the right balance in the city and society.

From our point of view, we argue the vitality for presence of city lungs and in-between public spaces that have the ability to mediate between polar. Such spaces offers freedom, creativity, justice, equality for all.   

We will start an open call among Egyptian architects requesting entries that showcase successful means for solving the problem, this contribution will be pilot projects (realized/unrealized), researches, documentaries and their reflection on how they affected our community and the city. This content will then be included in the booklet outcome and some material will be selected for display. 


The Evolution

Across History, The city timeline reflects different social needs, life patterns or political vision which dictated the planning outcome. But what happen to old planning that doesn’t fit our current pattern and can’t accommodate our current needs? … We abandon the past behind and build a brand new whole, which give its back on what is old, and since meaning and beauty are interrelated, then old is treated as ugly due to its misfit, we keep it distant from the new, separating between them with new roads or highways that mark the end/start of an era. Juxtaposition between the new and old with the latter sense of lack of value, absence of appreciation, decrease the feeling of ownership & belonging which has its trajectories on categorization in society and culture.

Even between newly created parts of the city, they don’t seem to negotiate or communicate with one another, the city looks fragmented drawn out of autonomous not collective process. This lack of seamless transition & the absence of in-between spatial hierarchy between the zones, result in a new spatial behavior that create a physiological & social division within the city. Everything started to look inwards and abandon the periphery. New developments, new private domains occur with walls to protect their core, here barriers started to turn from psychological to physical & encouraged more walls to spread all over the city.

More walls are built to protect new developments and ensure that their public spaces are only accessible by their occupants, walls even started to appear along public buildings protecting them from undesired public infiltration, other walls surround public parks, limiting pubic access, so the publicly oriented is not public anymore, walls keep on taking over our city, Walls that are inward looking and reluctant towards the outside, whatever outward is neglected & limited to roads as corridors the link between walls. The street became boring just traffic corridors with short encounter, Public is walking in a maze made up of walls. Abundance of cement blocks and lack of green lungs due to the sprawl of development.

Nowadays walls play more than one role within our city, sometime they are for protection & security, sometimes they hide unpleasant failures of our city such as slums, sometimes they block or grant access to specific group/s & sometimes they declare the presence of a certain domain.


Side Talks


In Between Organic/Formal: I’m the wall , I’m inevitable, I witness your daily life, Like it or not I  became part of your history , I shape your city, I create my own domain ,I define the start and the end , I’m stiff, I’m not permeable, I’m stubborn, I’m a limitation , I’m joker faced , I keep you apart, I keep you alert, Stay away or stay in, once you are out you are alienated , I’m the face of your city, you are all hidden behind me.


In Between Formal/Formal: I’m also a wall I look more friendly but I’m not, I keep you away, I keep inside intact, it’s so ugly and chaotic outside, you don’t know how much fun is it to be inside, you want to be part of our club , yes you can, our club is the frontier, we are city within the city, but we are a better city, forget what you see outside, inside is a new world like you imagined it to be, of course you can come in but first tell me, which club do you belong ?


In Between Formal/Green: I’m the last defender, behind me is your salvation, I’m negotiable, you can have a look still you need to be granted access, behind me is your life, this is not a pleasant green background this is the last remaining piece of life, your life depends on me, I don’t know how much longer I will stand. You need to think how will we continue living together?

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