Facades of modernity : image, performance, and transformation in the Egyptian metropolis
Author(s)Elshahed, Mohamed (Mohamed Kamal)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Architecture.
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Shifting political, social and cultural landscapes in contemporary Cairo with the triumph of Neolibralism are defining the city's modem heritage. In order to create a narrative of transformation of architectural production and its entanglement in different social, cultural and political contexts within the city's history, I will focus on the epicenter of the modem city, wust-el-balad, Downtown. It has recently been appropriated through a dual process of asserting the city's modem heritage. The first part of this process utilizes popular media such as period-based soap operas, photography exhibitions, literature and film. The second part of the process is through preservation of Cairo's modem buildings and the drafting of legislation to protect them. Architectural style, ornamentation of frontages (facades), is central to this process of shaping 'modem' Cairo. The criteria for inclusion into this heritage as practiced by the various committees and authorities explicitly place facades and aesthetics at the top of their selection process. Thus the process of heritization is inscribing a certain image of modernity in Cairo by selective inclusion of certain architectural styles. This thesis traces the constantly shifting image of modernity throughout downtown's history from its origin in the nineteenth century to its present state in the twenty-first century.(cont.) In response to the hyper-functional architecture of the 1970s and 1980s accommodating population growth of the capital, architectural trends in the 1990s in Cairo heavily relied on historicism. According to Ashraf Salama, Professor of Architecture at Al-Azhar University, "historicism has been materialized with a strong reference to three main Egyptian cultures: the Pharaonic, the Coptic, and the Islamic." However, in the last decade a new architectural trend is growing in popularity that historicizes an alternative era in Egyptian history, the modern period of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Thus the study of the state of architectural practice in contemporary Cairo is directly related to the city's modern origins in the 19th" century. In this thesis I will narrate the making of an architectural and urban aesthetic that is later forgotten by processes of damnation of memory and is recently being nostalgically appropriated by the middle class for the making of new architecture. These processes of making, forgetting and remembering are reflective of the cultural identities of those active in them.
Thesis (S.M.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Architecture, 2007.Includes bibliographical references (p. 69-72).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Architecture.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology