Downtown Architectural Preservation

Here is a screencap. Complete document coming soon.

Thanks to the good offices of the indefatigable Humphrey Davies, who not only translates novels but also keeps an eye on the Official Gazette of Egypt, TBE has learned that the government, in a move that can only be described as laudable, has set aside a large number of Cairo’s buildings and villas for architectural preservation. We weren’t able to find a copy of the Gazette on the government’s website, and the file is rather too large to post here, but will post a link if we find one, or send a copy via email to interested parties.

Some details after the jump.

Entries labeled “Qasr al-Nil,” which includes “downtown” as TBE defines it, begins on page 138. No buildings on the Boursa made the cut, as far as we can tell. The listings for addresses in Zamalek and Garden City, subsumed (as is the Boursa and its surroundings, or what we refer to as the oft-clogged arteries of the beating heart of the Arab world) under the title Heyy al-Gharb, begin on page 122. There are many, many more buildings in other parts of the city that are included in the list, from Sayyida Zeinab to Heliopolis to Rod al-Farag.

With reference to the downtown addresses, we’re particularly interested in knowing what, if any, bearing this will have on the ongoing struggle between the state-owned insurance company that owns many of these building and the Ismailiyya Company for Real Estate Investment, which has been buying up buildings with the aim of fixing them up and inspiring a downtown renaissance. We’ve written about this before, and we hope some of our journalist friends will be inspired to look into the story. We know your editors probably won’t think it’s a very sexy story, so we suggest you pitch it as “poor vs. rich in a battle for the soul of downtown Cairo,” even if that’s not entirely true. Or sneak it into your “Ahmed Ezz wants to sell the pyramids to the highest bidder” story.

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2 Comments

Filed under Downtown, Home Maintenance, Journalism, The Boursa, Translations

2 responses to “Downtown Architectural Preservation

  1. FYI – “Qasr al-Nil” is the daira (electoral district) parts of Downtown is in. West of Ataba and Ezbekiya, Garden City but I think not Mounira, Downtown (the core “Ismailiya” and “Tawfiqiya” khedivial districts) and north up to Bulaq, and Zamalek.

    Considering the revamping of core Downtown and recent sales by the insurance companies that own most of it, it’s interesting to note that not many buildings there will be protected, as developers may be tempted to tear down many of these buildings and put up high-rises instead. I would have thought, though, that buildings like those around Talaat Harb and Mustafa Kamel squares would already be on the protected list.

    • nottooshaabi

      Has anyone ever actually brought up the idea of building skyscrapers downtown? The only time we’ve ever heard the idea is as a scare tactic used by people (like the head of the insurance company) that are committed to the status quo.

      As for preservation, the information we received was that this was the first time any building constructed in the post-1882 era (or thereabouts) has ever been officially listed, though we’re sure an informal ban on redevelopment has been in effect for the more visible buildings.

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