Metropolitan acupuncture

Metropolitan acupuncture
Excavando un oasis urbano en el Cairo/ Digging an urban oasis in Cairo

Vivir cerca del río Nilo toma importancia a medida que el acceso a agua limpia dentro de la ciudad se dificulta. Un pedazo de tierra sin uso en el centro de El Cairo, rodeado por infraestructura ferroviaria y una carretera, se encuentra entre la parte planificada y las zonas de extensión de la ciudad. Un corte profundo en la tierra facilita el acceso al agua limpia y al mismo tiempo crea terrazas con espacios comerciales, oficinas, un parque en pendiente y una poza de agua fresca y fría en la parte inferior. La tierra desplazada forma una nueva colina artificial que hace sombra en el valle durante las horas más calurosas del día. La colina cubierta con viviendas es un hito sobre el paisaje horizontal de la ciudad.

Living close to the river Nile has become increasingly important as clean drinking water becomes less accessible almost by the day. An unused patch of land in central Cairo surrounded by rail and road infrastructure is located between the planned and self-built part of the city. A deep cut into the earth facilitates access to clean water and simultaneously creates a vertical terraced city block with commercial spaces, offices, a terraced park and a pool of fresh, cold water at the bottom. The displaced earth forms a new man-made hill to the south-western end of the site that shades the valley during the hottest times of the day. Covered with terraced housing it creates a new striking sight in Cairo’s flat terrain.

Stefanie Sebald, Odysseas Diakakis-Damianidis, Nicole Rochette

M.Arch UD workshop by Elia Zenghelis, Dec. 2012.

Workshop brief
"In his essay on the archipelago, Massimo Cacciari gives an inspired example for a polycentric city in which an ‘archipelago’ of centralities are dependent on one another by the fact that each has a missing element that the others possess. O.M.Ungers and R.L.Koolhaas provided an illustration of this concept in their proposal of the 70s for West Berlin. Our large contemporary cities have become subjected to the inexorable process of an endless urbanization, in which the ideas of centrality, limit, city, and countryside get blurred and cancel one another. It is the claim of this workshop that the only way to counteract this phenomenon is for cities to have clearly determined limits and that any building development should be strictly restricted to within these limits, while any building activity outside should be limited to the needs of the countryside only. If this premise is accepted, the corollary will be the inevitability of an ever increasing scale of development, that will eventually lead to unprecedented conditions – which architects will be confronted with. The workshop anticipates this confrontation. […] the aim is now, to inject an early stab at visualization, a sort of vitamin of conceptual energy, to keep the development and sustenance of ideas alert. It is important that it is seen simply as such an exercise and, by no means an allusion to a conclusion of any sort. […] participants are asked to visually (rather than with words) produce an ideologically considered image of ‘scale’ and ‘physiognomy’ – counterparts to their assessment of ‘archaeology’, ‘typology’ and ‘territory’. The subject in question will be that of ‘centrality’: the densest populated area of the city, defined primarily by municipal administration, educational and work headquarters, leisure and living. In the context of this exercise, the centrality to be considered is deemed to absorb excess urbanization (the sprawl) rendering its territory back to the countryside; it is therefore of extreme density, producing a quantum jump in the scale of the city – while at the same time shrinking it. The object of the workshop will be to provide an image of the scale and physiognomy of this ‘centrality’ in an activity akin to that of a painter making a portrait".


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