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UD News 2016

10th Community Forum: 29th May from 03.30 to 08.30 p.m.

An education project for urban agriculture in a school in Greater Cairo, initiated by the NGO Shagara

The 10th Community Forum El Gouna 2030 is going to take place on 29th May from 03.30 p.m. to 08.30 p.m. The forum will bring interesting topics related to “Urban Agriculture and Urban Gardening: Perspectives for El Gouna and Innovations by Egyptian Startups” with the cooperation of AHK MENA and German-Arab Chamber of Industry & Commerce.

Different organizations (e.g. Himmelbeet from Berlin, Germany), Egyptian Startups (Cubii, Schaduf, Biogas People, Agrimatic) and resource persons will present their activities in this event. The organizing team is looking forward to welcome you.  

Registration link:  http://goo.gl/forms/zHAIiouP8x

Link to the website of Community Forum El Gouna 2030: https://gounaforum.wordpress.com/   

Invitation to the 9th Community Forum on Mobility: 16 March


On 16 March, 2016, at 4 p.m., the 9th Community Forum in El Gouna takes place. The topic is 'Sustainable Mobility & Traffic Planning - Perspectives of El Gouna and Innovations by Egyptian Startups'. The main partner for this Community Forum is the German-Arab Chamber of Industry and Commerce. The organizational team is looking forward to welcoming you there.


Visit of Informal Settlements (Ashwa’eyat) in Cairo

Cairo, January 2016 – Students from the third semester visited the informal settlements of Manshiet Nasr and Istabl Antar in Cairo, and a school project on urban farming in Qanater. The excursion took place on Thursday and Friday, 14th and 15th of January 2016.

The excursion was embedded in the term project. The main topic of the project is urban and economic informality. However, the project’s target area is not situated in Cairo but in Hurghada. Here, the students work on regeneration strategies for the area of Zerzara close to the city center. Even though the situation of Zerzara is less complex in comparison to Cairo’s informal settlements, many issues are similar.  

In the morning of Thursday, the tour in Manshiet Nasr was guided by a supervisor on informal settlements (Ashwa’eyat) for the Cairo Governorate. Moreover, he is also an employee of GIZ that implements major regeneration projects in informal settlements in the Greater Cairo area. The main topics of interest were the way the Cairo governorate deals with unsafe areas, how water and sewage infrastructure gets distributed, and how to handle the question of tenure in the Cairo case. On the one hand, the group was able to see the demolished areas on Manshiet Nasr’s cliffs. The cliffs are very dangerous for any housing due to the threat of landslides. On the other hand, the group visited areas where infrastructure investments took place.

View on Manshiet Nasr

The destination of the afternoon was the Hasan Bakr Secondary State Language School in Qanater in the Northern suburbs of Cairo. With the help of a NGO (Shagara), the school has created a garden project on two of its roofs. The garden has been installed mainly for educational purposes. Pupils can practically learn how growing, planting and harvesting works in general. But considering the installations, it shows also how urban farming can look like in Cairo. It was of great value for the students to share the experiences of that case for their project in Hurghada.

In this school, the roof is green
Planting installations

On Friday, the group has visited the area of Istabl Antar. The tour was guided by teachers of IUSD (Integrated Urbanism and Sustainable Design of Cairo’s Ain Shams University). Besides the discussion of general problems of Ashwa’eyat, the main focus on that tour was how students can do an impact with their research and project work. IUSD has done some real interventions in early 2015 like wall or staircase painting, street paving, or tree planting. The tour has shown that some of these small-scale projects are still functioning, others less. On the end of the excursion, a current IUSD-student has conducted a People’s Needs Assessment (PNA) in an area of Istabl Antar close to the Ring Road and a dangerous cliff.

All in all, the excursion was a great opportunity to understand the complex challenges of informality in Cairo, to see that regeneration efforts need the contribution of many stakeholders of the governorate, the state, and last but not least, of the local people. Usually, simple solutions don’t work.

The cliffs are very close to the settlement
This open space has been paved and the tree been planted by IUSD students in early 2015
Wall paintings on the Ring Road

Excursion to Aswan

View on New Aswan

Aswan, October 2015 – Students from the fourth intake visited the city of Aswan and its 1997 commenced extension New Aswan in a double missioned excursion. The first reason was an exercise in urban analysis in the old part of Aswan, the second part a visit to the new town of New Aswan. New Aswan is the current topic of the first term project for the fourth intake. 

While the city of Aswan lies on the east bank of the Nile and on several of its islands, New Aswan is situated on the west bank and 12 kilometers north of the mother city. The two cities are connected by the Aswan Bridge close to New Aswan. Here, the Aswan-Giza Road can be reached that leads to Cairo.

The visit to Aswan included a guided site visit by representatives of the Arab Academy and the University of Aswan to downtown, Al-Tabiyya Mosque and its surroundings. The visit was also the first phase of the “Urban Analysis” course. The course aimed to familiarize the students with the inhabitants as well as characteristics of the Al-Tabiyya neighborhood. It focused on the questions of built environment, social life, commercial activities, urban environment and infrastructure. Better understanding of the existing urban area and an improvement of analyzing skills have been practiced in this exercise. The results and findings of the analysis were presented to all fellow students in El Gouna after the excursion.

Al-Tabiyya neighborhood

Whereas the urban analysis in the mother city was one purpose of the excursion, another reason was the first “Term Project” of the Master’s Program dealing with New Aswan. Although the young city still lacks inhabitants, the infrastructure already exists. The assignment for the student is to develop ideas for the so called Green Campus City (GCC). The GCC lies in the southwestern part of New Aswan close to the new campus of Aswan University. It is also still under construction and planned to be finished in 2016. The project area was selected through discussions between the New Urban Community Authority (NUCA) and TU Berlin Campus El Gouna. Both institutions have already conducted a series of workshops since 2013 to enhance the development plans.

The Head of the New Aswan Development Authority hosted the group and explained the new city plans, achievements, and future scenarios. After a quick tour through the city’s built up areas, the students visited the New Aswan University campus site, and the GCC area. Additionally, students met few stakeholders, like a representative from the Nubian community and staff members of the Faculty of Architecture of Aswan University. The challenges facing New Aswan, similar to other new cities planned by NUCA, are (1) gaining new inhabitants, (2) offering attractive urban solutions considering social and environmental issues for unsold plots, and (3) creating solid job opportunities.

Green Campus City

The students are expected to work on applicable concepts for the development of the GCC by considering the challenges of the whole new town, respecting the ideas and constraints of stakeholders such as NUCA or private investors, and bearing in mind especially future user groups. These user groups are expected to be quite diverse, ranging from staff and students of Aswan University to Nubian people, and inhabitants from Upper Egypt. Because only little attention has been directed to climate issues so far, students are asked to consider these issues and environmental challenges more seriously. Moreover, the students have to work on feasibility studies proving the applicability of their concepts. All in all, the GCC should be developed in a way to attract more attention and interest to New Aswan as a whole. NUCA representatives are looking forward receiving and discussing the ideas of the students.

View on New Aswan with a high voltage power line dividing the future city

Dept. of Urban Development at the conference ‘Historic Districts for Tomorrow’

Prof. Schäfer during his presentation

25-26 October 2015, Cairo – The dean of the Department of Urban Development of Campus El Gouna and students of the first and second intake attended the conference ‘Historic Districts for Tomorrow’. The conference was organized by Cairo and Alexandria University, and Brandenburg University of Technology, (Germany).

On Monday, October 26, Prof. Schäfer has presented the Department of Urban Development in the slot on ‘Egyptian - German Joint Master Programs for Architecture and Urban Planning’. Later he joined the podium debate ‘Challenges and Perspectives of international Joint Study Programs’ with representatives of the other programs.

On Sunday, October 25, Anas Alhowaily of the first intake presented his Master’s thesis under the title ‘Sustainable Urbanization in the Egyptian Desert, the Case Study Heliopolis’. Ahmed Adel Khalil of the second intake presented the outcome of the study project (studio) on the regeneration of the informal settlement of Al Arab in Hurghada. Five other students of Cairo University, Alexandria University and Brandenburg University of Technology presented projects related with the joint master programs on heritage and conservation of historic sites offered by these three institutions.  

The conference has taken place in the Faculty Club and in the Architecture Department Building in Giza from 25th till 26th of October 2015.

Ahmed Khalil during his presentation about El Arab
Although Cairo's Old City is one of the greatest treasures of Islamic architecture in the world it needs urgent regeneration in many parts

Lecture on ‘Strategies to fight water scarcity and urban risks traps in Lima’


15 Oct. 2015, El Gouna - In the framework of the third semester project on the informal settlement of Zerzara in Hurghada, the students had the chance to get external input from Rossana Poblet. Under the title ‘Strategies to fight water scarcity and urban risks traps in Lima’ she introduced two projects which are of high relevance for the case of Hurghada.

At her time at Stuttgart University and in the framework of the Future Megacities Program of Germany’s Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) she was very active in Lima. On the one hand she was involved in the formulation of Lima’s Ecological Infrastructure Strategy (LEIS). On the other hand she was practically implementing a small park in an informal settlement in Lima using a water sensitive design approach. See more at http://issuu.com/ilpe/docs/lima_ecological_infrastructure_stra_9c435aba38df2f/1

The second project she was talking about is called "Disrupting Urban Risk Traps: Bridging Finance and knowledge for climate resilient infrastructural planning in Lima - cLIMA sin Riesgo". It is a project in which she is currently involved at London’s Development Planning Unit (DPU). The sin-Riesgo approach emphasizes the mitigation of small urban and daily risks rather than focusing only on the big disasters. See more at http://www.climasinriesgo.net.

Both projects are of great importance for Egypt as well. After Cairo, Lima is the second biggest desert town in the world with almost no rain. And urban informality is a very important issue as it is for Cairo.  Lima has a long history of tackling urban informality.

Rossana Poblet is an architect, urban planner and researcher from Peru and has worked for several years exploring solutions to challenges of rapid urban growth centres in the global South and focusing in informal settlements. Her work experience includes projects in Peru, South Africa, Kosovo and Germany. She has worked as researcher and teacher at the Institute of Landscape Planning and Ecology, Faculty of Architecture and Urban Planning, at University of Stuttgart and now is researcher at the Bartlett Development Planning Unit (DPU), University College London (UCL). Her focus on practical work and research focus on informal settlements challenges and potentials to develop new concepts adapted to areas without rain, including ecological infrastructure and water sensitive urban planning and design for dry areas.

Lima's informal settlements have many similarities with Egypt's 'Ashwayat'

Excursion showing urban development paradigms of Berlin

Berlin, April-July 2015 – Berlin is an open-air exhibition for urban-planning and urban-development paradigms.  During the summer semester 2015, the students attended a series of excursions and city walks within Berlin with the objective to see various neighborhoods presenting these paradigms. Additionally to these Berlin excursions, some other trips were organized to other cities like Görlitz, Hamburg or Dessau.  

The excursions in Berlin started in the city center. As most parts of medieval Berlin and Cölln have been either destroyed in World War II or later demolished in favor for the prestigious development of the capital of GDR, little historic remains are left over. However, some old parts can still be seen, e.g., the ’island of traditions’ (as it was called by the GDR-planners) at Märkisches Ufer and Getraudenbrücke or almost forgotten buildings in Waisen- or Brüderstraße. Even though the quarter around St. Nicholas Church (Nikolaiviertel) looks very medieval, not so many buildings are authentic and from the old days. It is more a wonderful example of the ‘critical-reconstruction paradigm’ made in GDR showing sorts of ‘luxury prefabricated’ residential blocks (Plattenbau), relocated historic buildings from other parts of the city besides a few original, conserved protected monuments like the St. Nicholas Church itself. Additionally, ideas like the ‘functional-city paradigm’ or car-driven planning ideas were discussed at Molkenmarkt. The debate of the reconstruction of the city center was the topic in front of the (re)construction-site of the former Royal Palace (Berliner Schloss).

The reconstruction of Berlin's former Royal Palace, destroyed in and after WWII, was one of the most controversial decisions among urban planners and architects

Examples of ‘Stony Berlin’ or the dense tenement blocks of the late 19th century and ways to handle this rich legacy after World War II, were shown during two excursions to Berlin-Wedding.  The main focus of the first tour was Berlin’s ‘Neighborhood Management’ approach of the ‘Socially Integrative City” program that started in 1999. During the second tour, the students have seen different regenerated blocks following the paradigm of ‘careful urban regeneration ‘. This regeneration approach was developed under the influence of the ‘International Building Exhibition’ (IBA Kreuzberg, Altbau) in the 1970ies and 1980ies. During this excursion, built examples of early reforms to improve the bad living conditions of the urban poor in the late 19th century were visited as well.

The huge tenement blocks of the late 19th century, which created the name of 'Stony Berlin', presented the worst living conditions for many decades. After the 'careful urban renewal' they are among the most favoured neighbodhoods of the city.

Compared to these examples of the early reforms, the social housing estates of the 1920ies were of much bigger scale. The students visited two of five areas that are now World Heritage Sites. The first one was Bruno Taut’s ‘Siedlung am Schillerpark’ in Berlin-Wedding built in red bricks and with wonderful semi-public courts and gardens. The second area was ‘Die Weiße Stadt’ (‘White City’) in Berlin-Reinickendorf. Thematically, this excursion was later added with an excursion to the city of Dessau showing the Bauhaus and more buildings in this particular style of the 1920ies.

"Weiße Stadt" - a social housing complex of the 1920ies became part of the UNESCO World Heritage

The theme of two more tours was Berlin’s urban history in and after World-War II. Being in Berlin nowadays, war damages cannot be seen anymore. However, the wounds and consequences of the damages are omnipresent if one develops the ability to see them.  The question, how to rebuild the city after 1945 was shown in a tour presenting competing paradigms of the former Eastern and Western part of the city. While East Berlin’s Karl-Marx- and Frankfurter Allee was constructed in the Stalinist ‘wedding-cake-style‘ in the early 1950ies, West Berlin’s Hansaviertel presents the western answer to it being an iconic example for a ‘functional city’.

All tours have taken place under the umbrella of the Urban Design course.

Walter Gropius was one of many star architects of his time who has contributed to Berlin's International Building Exhibition of 1957 (Interbau)

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