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In Academic, Monday, February 02, 2015


New housing typologies for productive families in Tora - a city cleaner community in the outskirts of Maadi-Zahraa Cairo

The Tora settlement is a prime example for a sustainable urban development in Cairo. Within only 20 years it grew from a marginalised community to a widely serviced residential and working area. Key stakeholder is the Association for the Protection of the Environment - a non-profit organisation, which aim it is to combine effective waste management and recycling technologies with the improvement in the standards of living of city cleaners and their communities.

Today simple garbage collecting and sorting is not the main source of income of families in Tora any more. Residents invest in machines and infrastructure to further process sorted cardboard, plastic and other recycling material. This way a much larger and still growing part of the value chain connected to the recycling trade remains inside the neighbourhood of Tora.

The Tora development shows that the social effects of the built environment are recognisable when urban development goes hand in hand with the empowerment of its residents who take their share in decision making.

However, when it comes to constructing homes, the specific needs of the residents, especially those of women, who often work as entrepreneurs in various (craft) businesses, do not seem to take priority in the layouts that construction companies propose. 

This is where our design projects sets in: To learn from the history of this district, to understand its unique identity and specific qualities and to propose alternative housing designs based on specific family and business routines. In the design process we involved local players and residents aiming to tap even un-obvious expertise on space and housing as the mainstay for the design proposals.

The Tora community is representative for a building sector that usually does not consider the necessity of involving architects in the construction of homes. Will our students be convincing in showcasing architectural expertise as a fair business investment?

Involved Academics:

Assoc. Prof Urs Walter

Aliaa Maged

Yasmina Serhan