Architecture and Urban Renewal Updates

The corniche circa 1879

The corniche circa 1879.

Yesterday TBE had business in Zamalek. In the course of our circumambulations we gathered some information about the state of architecture and urban renewal schemes downtown and on the island. Later, at TBE HQ, we read with interest a recent contribution to Carnegie’s Arab Reform Bulletin by TBE acquaintance and future academic powerhouse Anne Mariel Peters, in which she writes that most of Egypt’s $5.4 fiscal stimulus package is slated for infrastructure projects. This would help explain the profusion of projects currently underway.

The updates are after the jump.

Downtown:

Painting continues apace in Midan Talaat Harb, though progress has been slow.

The Midan Falaki entrance to the historic Bab al-Louq market, which was blasted into rubble a short while ago, has been painted but few other changes have been made. Earlier this week TBE read a short item in al-Ahram about problems related to redevelopment in the area surrounding the market, but couldn’t quite understand what was going on. Apparently it’s slated for some kind of urban improvement scheme following Talaat Harb’s makeover.

Corniche:

TBE used to walk the section of the corniche in front of the TV building almost daily. Thus it was a pleasant surprise tinged with nostalgia that we found that the small section of sidewalk next to the off-ramp from the 26th July bridge that had been torn asunder for as long as we can remember (and for no apparent reason, as the surrounding paving stones were left untouched), has finally been replaced. Workers are also in the process of painting the exit ramp’s underside.

Bridge:

A new divider has been installed between east and westbound traffic on the 26th July bridge between Bulaq and Zamalek. TBE will be watching this closely as we have long been interested in learning how long it takes before someone bends these dividers so foot traffic can pass through unimpeded.

Zamalek:

The new, Greek island-style villa on Mansur Muhammad Street is nearing completion. TBE’s sources at the construction site claim it will house one of the Sawiris brothers. The lot in front of the villa has been cleared, though it remains unclear whether it will become a garden abutting the villa or used for something else. Also, a small plaza has been built across the street, in the area, long blocked by concrete blocks, where cars used to turn right back in the olden days when Zamalek’s traffic pattern was the opposite of what it is today.

Across the street from the Algerian Embassy, Bahrain is fixing up a villa to house its embassy. Just down the street on Muhammad Mazhar, Oman is building a new embassy. Considering the size of the building, one might conclude that Muscat is planning to increase its diplomatic presence in Cairo. TBE is a big fan of the old, rambling Omani embassy across the street from EuroDeli on Taha Hussein, and awaits with keen interest the fate of that property.

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Filed under Downtown, Home Maintenance, Oman, Special Reports

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