Getting Together Again, but Differently
Nouha Ben Yebdri - Association MAHAL
by Tahayyuz Alliance 27 / 3 / 2023
Internship with Mansour for Architecture and Conservation: Public Spaces in Historic Cairo’s Qal’at al-Kabsh
Historic Cairo –a World Heritage Property– is one of the most important cities in the East. It is known for preserving its organic urban fabric throughout the centuries, while being home to unique and varied forms of public spaces. These public spaces, surrounded by a wealth of heritage, are witness to the turbulent social and cultural history of the area. Throughout the centuries, these public spaces played an important role in people’s lives.
To explore this intersection of people and place in Historic Cairo’s public spaces, Mansour for Architecture and Conservation (MAC) hosted a 1-month summer internship in the framework of Tahayyuz Alliance. There were 8 participants interning with MAC to learn about the area of Qal’at al-Kabsh in al-Sayeda Zeinab district and the main public spaces it has.
Our internship participants studied the different patterns of public spaces in Qal’at al-Kabsh and gained insight into the historical and social changes that these spaces have gone through. They engaged in a series of lectures, workshops, field visits, and training through which they learned to monitor and analyze public spaces, do historical and legal research, and conduct comparative analyses of maps.
Towards the end of the internship, our participants applied their knowledge and creative energies in the collaborative development of proposals for potential interventions that raise the quality of public spaces Qal’at al-Kabsh while addressing the needs of visitors and users.
The internship’s learning journey was enriched by the collective space we created for all participants of our alliance’s three entities (Mansour for Architecture and Conservation, Megawra, 10 Tooba) to come together and share their experiences through joint lectures, events, and workshops.
Internship with 10 Tooba: Self-built Urbanism in Greater Cairo
‘Informal’ planning is a historical phenomenon. Historically, people were always building their own houses and their whole cities without regulations or licenses. In Egypt, cities grew out of small settlements and neighborhoods in rural villages that people built themselves, next to their agricultural land. But what about ‘informal’ urban planning today?
To explore people’s efforts of building their own houses and neighborhoods in Cairo, 10 Tooba hosted a 6-week summer internship for students to learn more about self-built urbanism in greater Cairo –what is commonly referred to as “informal areas.”
Through a series of lectures, workshops and professional training, our 8 participants learned to conduct historical and legal research, collect and synthesize data, use mapping as an analysis tool, and creatively communicate their research findings.
In their learning journey, our participants engaged in a critical exploration of questions related to participatory urban planning, collective decision-making, and laws and policies that fuel negative social and cultural perceptions of informal areas. These activities enabled them to deepen their understanding of broader socio-economic and urbanism issues related to informal areas.
They examined different social, historical, political, and legal aspects of informality, and contributed to a series of studies focused on self-built urbanism in greater Cairo. These studies will be made publicly available on an interactive website that the Tahayyuz Alliance is currently working on developing.
Our participants’ learning journey was enriched by the collective space we created for all participants of our alliance’s three entities (10 Tooba, Mansour for Architecture and Conservation, Megawra) to come together and share their experiences through joint lectures, events, and workshops.
Internship with Megawra: Stories of the Conservation of al-Imam al-Shafi’i Dome and Visitors Center
Design a book that is not just a book, about a conservation project that is not just a job, in a tomb that is not just a grave… This is what Megawra did during the 6-week summer internship they hosted for students! But how did it all start?
Megawra has been working on the conservation of al-Imam al-Shafi’i Dome since 2015 and on its visitors’ center since 2021. In the process, they been given the gift of stories – of people and place, of the daily experience of 2500+ days of working on a conservation project – of history and myths – of money, power and spirituality – of the chemistry, physics, biology, and structure of a building as it comes to life – of patterns, colors and geometry – of human beings living in the cemetery and others coming to work day in day out for 7 years to work on its most important building.
Based on this, Megawra designed an internship program for participants to learn to think about the experience of conservation and the experience of being at the dome of al-Imam al-Shafi’i as a multi-sensory experience filled with layers upon layers of stories. The main goal of the internship was to grasp this dynamic experience and work on conceptualising an interactive book that tells the stories of the conservation of al-Imam al-Shafi’i Dome.
The participants engaged in numerous activities that combined the different aspects of conservation including the stories, place, history, tradition, people, feelings and beliefs. They also learned about the fundamentals of building a narrative and the art of storytelling.
Applying their creative skills, they worked collaboratively on conceptualizing a multidisciplinary and interactive book about the conservation story from its varying angles. In the final week of the internship, they presented their ideas for the book using various media such as comics, storytelling, soundscapes, and interactive visuals.
The participants’ learning journey was enriched by the collective space we created for all participants of our alliance’s three entities (Megawra, Mansour for Architecture and Conservation, 10 Tooba) to come together and share their experiences through joint lectures, events, and workshops.