baladilab in Vienna! workshop about Heritage in Cairo

Let's talk about Heritage_invitation

LET’S TALK ABOUT HERITAGE Workshop, January 30, 2013

The workshop “Let’s talk about Heritage!” aims at presenting diverse case studies about the relationships between scholars, teachers, inhabitants and the built heritage of Cairo. The contributions will spot light on documentary practices, hands-on projects and educational activities, all linked by the attempt to foster the understanding and produce a scientific documentation of the built heritage. The format of a workshop will offer the possibility for a discussion and exchange of ideas between the audience and the relators. The workshop is a cooperation between the Vienna University of Technology, Institute History of Architecture and Building Archaeology, baladilab and the Cairo University, Faculty of Engineering, Department of Architecture.

PROGRAM 9.30-12.30

Marina Döring-Williams Vienna University of Technology.
Built Heritage in Cairo. Aspects for a Research-oriented Teaching.

Nabil Elhady Cairo University.
Exploring architecture in Cairo.

Federica Felisatti Architect, former UNESCO Cairo.
Urban Regeneration Project for Historic Cairo, tools for the protection of a World Heritage Property

Vittoria Capresi – Barbara Pampe Vienna University of Technology / baladilab.
baladilab in Downtown Cairo

Peter Ferschin – Iman Kulitz Vienna University of Technology.
Digital Ancient Egypt

Lilli Zabrana Austrian Archaeological Institute.
Austrian Archaeological Institute, projects Discussion


Built Heritage in Cairo. Aspects for a Research-oriented Teaching (Marina Döring-Williams)
In winter semester 2014/2015 the Department of History of Architecture and Building Archaeology (Baugeschichte :: Bauforschung) of the Vienna University of Technology organized a design studio about “Rehabilitation and Adaptive Reuse of Buildings” in Downtown Cairo. Considered as research-oriented teaching, the project involved – and still involves – several students and teachers of the Cairo University and Vienna University of Technology.

In October 2014 the kick-off workshop, in cooperation with the Cairo University, took place in Downtown Cairo, where students from Austria and Egypt documented, analysed, discussed and designed together. The main focus was to initiate a debate about how to deal with the “Built Heritage” of Downtown Cairo. Here, the demographical and social-political changes are starting processes concerning architecture and urban design, which in very short time can change even entire areas and their functions (and maybe even irrecoverably). Sometimes this happens so rapidly, that it is possible to only research the consequences of those changes on few examples. The main topics of the project in Cairo were the debate of questions on “Identity and Architecture”, on the possibilities of the enhancement of “underestimated” buildings as well as thinking about options for the current structural and spatial desiderata in the studied area – considered as a fundamental task and challenge for the future architects.
Marina Döring Williams is head of the Department Baugeschichte Bauforschung of the Vienna University of Technology.

Exploring architecture in Cairo (Nabil Elhady)
In a city where informal areas are consistently taking over its urban scene in addition to being torn in complicated political, economical and social challenges, is there really a space to talk about architecture (with a Capital A or without) and Aesthetics?  To put it more clearly; what architecture and aesthetics really means to the citizens of Cairo and to which extent historical buildings and parts of the Cairo can help its citizens and potential architects in understanding issues that underlies the challenges facing our cities in Egypt?  While the previous questions were not there from the beginning, yet they constitute some of the major underlying questions for the seven years old class I co-teaches at Cairo University.

Courtyards, gates, ceilings, skins, light and verticality are some of the windows that were used to address issues related to architecture and the city cutting through layers of Pharonic, Islamic, pre modern, and contemporary Cairo and Alexandria. The talk will present these ideas through short vignettes that attempt to elaborate on the observations, discussions and students’ works.
Nabeel Elhady is an architect and professor at Cairo University, with teaching assignments also at the Misr International University, Cairo.  His classes include graduation design studios, history of urban form, analysis of Egyptian cities and architectural criticism. From 2003 and 2008 he initiated and organized national architectural students’ competition and he is now organizing the international competition “Urban innovations”. Since 1998 he is running the architecture office “Noon”. In 2013 he co-edited the book “Critical review of the architecture of new cities in Egypt”.

Urban Regeneration Project for Historic Cairo, tools for the protection of a World Heritage Property (Federica Felisatti)
Historic Cairo was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1979, originally with the name of Islamic Cairo, recognizing its “absolutely unquestionable historical, archaeological and urbanistic importance“. Like many early listed sites, Cairo lacked in basic identification standards and tools for the protection and management of the site as set in 2005 by the Operational Guidelines to the World Heritage Convention.

The Government of Egypt requested to the World Heritage Centre technical assistance for management of the World Heritage Property. As a response, the Urban Regeneration Project for Historic Cairo was launched in 2010 with the following objectives:

  • Preparation of a conservation plan and a management plan for Historic Cairo WHP;
  • Establishment of an inter-institutional framework to undertake and develop a sustainable urban conservation policy;
  • Creation of an appropriate and shared information platform for urban conservation;

The project concluded its first life cycle at the end of 2014.

This presentation shares some of the experiences learned from the project focusing on the requirements for an urban World Heritage Site, the peculiarities of Historic Cairo’s case, and a detailed explanation of methods and tools set in place for the regeneration and preservation.
Federica Felisatti is an Italian architect and planner with background in internationally funded projects for the preservation and regeneration of urban heritage in Italy, Jordan, Yemen, Brazil, and Egypt. Her latest commitment was in Cairo, where she has been based in the past 5 years, as consultant on the “Urban Regeneration Project for Historic Cairo” for the World Heritage Centre of UNESCO.
She graduated with a Master degree from the University of Ferrara. She obtained a specialization in “Habitat, technology and development” studies in the department of Casa, Città in Politecnico University of Torino in Italy and a post-graduate Master in “Conservation of monuments and sites” from the Raymond Lemaire International Centre for Conservation at the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium.

baladilab in Downtown Cairo (Vittoria Capresi – Barbara Pampe)
Since 2011 baladilab is working to foster the visibility of the architectural heritage of Downtown Cairo, the district developed under the Khedive Ismail at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. The city plan was inspired by the streets and squares pattern introduced by Haussmann in Paris, and several European and Egyptian architects and builders built palaces and apartments buildings using a rich stylistic vocabulary. Nowadays Downtown is the main lively heart of the city, hosting small shops, offices, houses, cafes and restaurants in a complex social, religious and functional equilibrium. A general lack of regulations regarding how to deal with the heritage and an old rental system are the main reasons for the neglect of the architecture and numerous demolitions of the old Ismaelia buildings. The projects presented are our personal declaration of love to the inhabitants and the buildings of Downtown.
Vittoria Capresi and Barbara Pampe are architects. They spent the last four years in Cairo, teaching at the German University in Cairo – GUC. Their focus was to involve the students in practical-oriented projects, to directly research the material city, with its architecture and town planning, and the immaterial phenomena related to the use of spaces, the memories and narratives, and the social behaviours in the city. The book Downtown Cairo. Architecture and Stories, Berlin: Jovis, 2014 is forthcoming.

Digital Ancient Egypt (Peter Ferschin – Iman Kulitz)
Our talk will focus on interdisciplinary projects in the areas of architecture, computer science and egyptology. We will cover collaborations in education, master projects, research projects and digital exhibitions with a focus on architectural reconstructions in the Giza area.
Peter Ferschin is member of IEMAR, department of Digital Architecture and Planning
Iman Kulitz is a freelance architect

Restoration Project in the Islamic Museum Cairo (Lilli Zabrana)
In January 2014 a car bomb exploded in front of the headquarter of the police in Cairo, killing not only four policemen, but also caused major damage to the nearby Islamic Museum. With the urgent help of the UNESCO Emergency Mission the Museum documented the extent of the damage followed by an international ‚call for action‘ for emergency technical and financial assistance. Since December 2014 the Austrian Archaeological Institute, Cairo Branch with the financial support of the Austrian foreign ministry through the Embassy in Cairo assists the Islamic museum in the restoration of damaged metal objects. Furthermore Workshops are planned to be held as educational training of local restorers to provide sustainable support for the restauration of the Museum by the head restorer of the Austrian Archaeological Institute in Cairo, Erico Peintner. This contribution aims at extending the term heritage to movable heritage objects, which are often thought to be safely stored. In times of political changes the situation may rapidly change, as showed in the case of the Islamic Museum.
Lilli Zabrana Since 2010 Lilli Zabrana is research fellow at the Austrian Archaeological Institute in Vienna (ÖAI), and referent for the documentations archive. Since 2009 she is on-site head of the research project “The so-called tribune in the Artemision in Ephesus” (S. Ladstätter, ÖAI), a project in the fields of archaeology and building archaeology.