Spring 2012

Connecting Cairo to the Nile

Renewing Life and Heritage on the River

In 2010, we conceived a plan to craft a collaborative learning experience and to catalyze a new understanding of the Nile as a public resource for the people of Cairo.

With a population of over eleven million, Cairo is one of the densest cities in the world, supporting an urban population underserved by parks and other public open space. Yet the city holds remarkable opportunities to reconnect its people with the river that was historically its heart.

Cairo struggles with the impacts of population growth and urbanization on traffic, air pollution, and informal housing settlements.
Connecting Cairo Enlarge [+]Cairo struggles with the impacts of population growth and urbanization on traffic, air pollution, and informal housing settlements.

In January of 2011 in Cairo, in an intensive workshop involving 23 students and seven faculty from Cairo University (CU), The American University in Cairo (AUC), and the University of California, Berkeley (UCB), interdisciplinary teams systematically inventoried existing conditions along a 12-km reach of the Nile from Maadi to Tahrir Square. The details of this workshop and its results were compiled in a report available online.

The first day of the workshop included student introductions at the recently designed Al-Azhar Park, site of a former landfill.
Connecting Cairo Enlarge [+]The first day of the workshop included student introductions at the recently designed Al-Azhar Park, site of a former landfill.

Based on this fieldwork the student teams identified specific opportunities for ecological restoration and better open space connectivity with the rest of the city. The presence of historic landmarks and excellent views along the Nile also provide significant prospects for urban revitalization and economic development.

Challenges were pin-pointed relating to the existence of incongruent public and private land-uses along the Nile Corniche, and to urban waste management along the waterfront.

Following their investigations, workshop participants developed a strategic plan for a continuous trail network along the Nile with connectivity to important nodes in Cairo. They also developed detailed plans for the revitalization of two key zones: Athur El Nabi and Old Cairo.

The workshop ended just one week before demonstrations erupted in the streets of Cairo, highlighting public desires, expectations, and demands for major change. Bringing the people to the riverbanks could be an important step in improving daily life for millions, and could strengthen the city’s social fabric, and contribute to the democratization of Egyptian society.

UC Berkeley Department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Faculty Advisors and Coordinators:

  • Matt Kondolf
  • Louise Mozingo
  • Linda Jewell
  • Amir Gohar

Cairo Advisors and Coordinators:

  • Ahmed Sherif
  • Khalid Z. El Adli
  • Abbas el-Zafarany
  • Aboulfetouh S. Shalaby
  • Sami Shaker
  • Mohamed Nagib Abou-Zeid

Student Participants:

  • Noha Abbassy (AUC)
  • Krishnachandran Balakrishnan (UC Berkeley)
  • Tami Church (UC Berkeley)
  • Richard Crockett (UC Berkeley)
  • Nada Abd El-Aziz (CU)
  • Fekria El- Bialy (CU)
  • Ali Abd El Gawad (CU)
  • Momen El-Husseiny (AUC/UC Berkeley)
  • Mohamed El Kharbotly (AUC)
  • Heba Ezzat (CU)
  • Salsabil Fahmy (AUC)
  • Ahmed Farouk (CU)
  • Erene Kamal (CU)
  • Michal Kapitulnik (UC Berkeley)
  • Mirette Khorshed (AUC)
  • Madonna Maher (CU)
  • Malak Maher (AUC)
  • Rachael Marzion (UC Berkeley)
  • Nada Nafeh (AUC)
  • Adrienne Smith (UC Berkeley)
  • Bahaa Stephanos (AUC)
  • Mohamed Tarek (CU)
  • Rob Tidmore (UC Berkeley)
Student introductions at Al-Azhar Park
Connecting Cairo Enlarge [+]Student introductions at Al-Azhar Park
CU, AUC, and UCB workshop students and faculty at Al-Azhar Park in January, 2011
Connecting Cairo Enlarge [+]CU, AUC, and UCB workshop students and faculty at Al-Azhar Park in January, 2011
Cairo university faculty lead workshop participants on a tour of Al-Azhar Park and Old Cairo’s Al-Darb Al-Ahmar district.
Connecting Cairo Enlarge [+]Cairo university faculty lead workshop participants on a tour of Al-Azhar Park and Old Cairo’s Al-Darb Al-Ahmar district.
Ahmed and Malak survey bankside conditions in the suburb of Maadi.
Connecting Cairo Enlarge [+]Ahmed and Malak survey bankside conditions in the suburb of Maadi.
Old Cairo survey team on the Manasterly Pedestrian Bridge (from left to right: Adrienne, Professor Mozingo, Ahmed, Nada, Krishna, Salsabil, Rachael, Nada, Aly, Noha)
Connecting Cairo Enlarge [+]Old Cairo survey team on the Manasterly Pedestrian Bridge (from left to right: Adrienne, Professor Mozingo, Ahmed, Nada, Krishna, Salsabil, Rachael, Nada, Aly, Noha)
View of the Nile’s east bank in CBD from the Marriott Hotel. Landmarks visible on the east bank include (from left to right) the Ministry of Foreign Affairs building, the radio and TV building, the Ramses Hilton Hotel, and the 6th of October Bridge.
Connecting Cairo Enlarge [+]View of the Nile’s east bank in CBD from the Marriott Hotel. Landmarks visible on the east bank include (from left to right) the Ministry of Foreign Affairs building, the radio and TV building, the Ramses Hilton Hotel, and the 6th of October Bridge.
Students observe steep concrete banks, unused terraces, and informal settlements along the water’s edge
Connecting Cairo Enlarge [+]Students observe steep concrete banks, unused terraces, and informal settlements along the water’s edge
Unused vegetated terraces along the floodplain in Maadi.
Connecting Cairo Enlarge [+]Unused vegetated terraces along the floodplain in Maadi.
Low wide flood plains in Maadi could be used for cafes, food stands, outdoor seating, and a ferry plaza.
Connecting Cairo Enlarge [+]Low wide flood plains in Maadi could be used for cafes, food stands, outdoor seating, and a ferry plaza.
Overcrowded ferries arriving at Maadi’s ferry landing demonstrate the need for a more robust and efficient ferry system.
Connecting Cairo Enlarge [+]Overcrowded ferries arriving at Maadi’s ferry landing demonstrate the need for a more robust and efficient ferry system.
Students and faculty compile and discuss fieldwork data during the workshop held on the campus of The American University in Cairo.
Connecting Cairo Enlarge [+]Students and faculty compile and discuss fieldwork data during the workshop held on the campus of The American University in Cairo.
Students sketch cross-sections of the Nile to assess constraints and opportunities for each study site (sketches by Krishna Balakrishnan).
Connecting Cairo Enlarge [+]Students sketch cross-sections of the Nile to assess constraints and opportunities for each study site (sketches by Krishna Balakrishnan).
One of the small collaborative student groups discusses a strategic plan for the four study reaches along the Nile.
Connecting Cairo Enlarge [+]One of the small collaborative student groups discusses a strategic plan for the four study reaches along the Nile.
Ali, Professor Mozingo, and Krishna evaluate proposed designs for a continuous river trail along the Nile.
Connecting Cairo Enlarge [+]Ali, Professor Mozingo, and Krishna evaluate proposed designs for a continuous river trail along the Nile.
Berkeley students visit the Giza Pyramids during a break from the workshop.
Connecting Cairo Enlarge [+]Berkeley students visit the Giza Pyramids during a break from the workshop.