I Am My City: Rethinking Cairo As A Contented City

Safey Eldeen, Heba (2015) I Am My City: Rethinking Cairo As A Contented City. REAL CORP 2015. PLAN TOGETHER – RIGHT NOW – OVERALL. From Vision to Reality for Vibrant Cities and Regions. Proceedings of 20th International Conference on Urban Planning, Regional Development and Information Society. pp. 347-359.

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Cairo: the urban legend, is one of the most ancient, colourful, multifaceted of cities. Seat of pharaohs, sultans and kings, prize of conquerors from Alexander to Saladin to Napoleon, "the city Victorious" has never stopped reinventing herself. The very nature of Cairo has ever reflected polycentric ensembles of urbanism that belonged to different user group, with different perspectives, conceptions and aspirations towards their city life. Sorrowfully over the past few decades, the city has lost most of its acquired identities for reasons beyond the scope of this paper. It is argued that the city has undergone, and still undergoing- a process of expansion and extension for its physical measures on the expenses of its societal, heritage and cultural identity to the extent that is considered as “a city out of control”. Where is Cairo going? Who defines its directions? Whose visions does it follow? Is planning still possible for contemporary Cairo? Can the quality of life be improved by improving the city’s resilience? With Egyptian history instantly being rewritten, I am dreaming of a Cairo reborn. Hence, imaging the future of Cairo for any planning, design or governance intention requires understanding and inferring the functional aspects of the socio-cultural patterns in the city. Hence determining the what, why and how of planning and design. This further requires reviewing theoretical conceptualisations and evaluating examples of other cities and regions that are agreed upon as vibrant, resilient, liveable, smart and most importantly: happy. The paper at hand serves as a theoretical approach towards understanding contemporary Cairo identity as a prologue for its urban reform as a vibrant city. My objective is to introduce a model for understanding Cairo through correlating urbanism to its political, economic, legislative, and socio-cultural attributes. Therefor hypothesise visions for its transformation into a vibrant city. The methodology is based on a quick review of the modern urban history of Cairo; identifying its districts types, their local characteristics of user groups, behavioural patterns and physical settings, and then discussing Cairo’s overall contemporary political, economic, legislative, and socio-cultural attributes that altogether designate its overall cultural identity. Based on the works of Stewart-Hakky-Hemdan, Abu-Loghod, Giraud, Raymond, Sims, Singerman, Amar et al, further talk about Cairo argues its actuality as a collective/integrated capital, or interrelated/intertwined entities of substantial districts. Thus identifying its urbanism lacks and shortcomings. Based on the works of Jacobs, Alexander, Lynch, Gosling, Maitland, Wiedenhoeft, Geddes, Low, Patsy, Montgomery and others, theoretical debates then discern contextual definitions and conflicts of “vibrant”, “resilient”, “smart”, “liveable”, “sustainable”and “happy”city concepts. Through an exploratory grounded observation in the various, multi-faceted districts of the city, in addition to a random exploratory investigation with a number of residents, an attempt was to give Cairo an urban description was undergone. Questions are thenceforth evoked about the values, visions and practices explores the possibilities and suitability of approaches that profile a theory towards the transformation of our Cairo Victorious into a liveable, sustainable, smart, and a happy city. Such discussion is also expected to provide insights for planners, designers, decision makers for the betterment of both practice and education fields.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: vibrant city, Cairo, socio-behavioural study, school of urban sociology, liveable city
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Depositing User: REAL CORP Administrator
Date Deposited: 23 Mar 2016 13:38
Last Modified: 23 Mar 2016 13:38
URI: http://repository.corp.at/id/eprint/76

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