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Cityscape Egypt 2020: RIBA Design Charrette

As part of the Cityscape Egypt 2020, the RIBA is pleased to organise a charrette - a fast-pasted brainstorming event to produce an original design response to an urban problem.

As part of Cityscape Egypt 2020, the RIBA is pleased to organise a charette - a fast-pasted brainstorming event to produce an original design response to an urban problem. It's a powerful and exciting way to show how architecture students’ design and placemaking skills can improve cities for citizens.

The theme this year is to propose interventions and creative design solutions to improve the public realm and civic life of Old Cairo for its people, taking into account the extraordinary historical legacy of the city as the birthplace of modern architecture. The chosen site for discussion is Wekalet el Balah, in Cairo.

Participating teams will work up solutions to create a more human-centric city, so that a new part of the city fosters interaction and community engagement. Consideration of a contemporary architectural language that reflects the nation’s great culture and heritage will also be taken into account.

Measurers should include traffic calming, alternative green technologies, proposals to reclaim the streets from the car to the people, and to improve the public realm. Teams will focus on how to reveal the heritage of Cairo and make it a great city for its visitors and citizens alike.

The process

Architecture students from RIBA validated courses in Egypt will be mixed into three teams of 6 to 8 people, to encourage collaboration and new ideas, and a team leader will be appointed beforehand. Full brief with confirmation of team and leader will be sent to individual participants before the day.

On the day itself, the teams will be briefed of expectations by the Chair, before each team gather together to work on their thoughts and design. A large space will be allocated to each team to undertake design work at Egypt International Exhibition Centre. Each group will be issued with a range of equipment and information including scale maps etc.

Teams have just two hours to develop their ideas and proposals for the site. The brainstorming is designed to be a short, focused session to stimulate ideas and design responses. The proposals for the charette should make sensitive considerations to context and materials of the site, and consider how to:

  • create a more human-centred Cairo
  • stimulate interactions between communities
  • improve the public realm
  • preserve heritage and historical areas, as well as any of the area’s unique 19th century architecture
  • address traffic problems - resolve congestion, gridlock, improve connectivity and integration in Cairo
  • address environmental degradation
  • bring old and new Cairo together

Following the charrette, the teams will present their schemes to an audience and take part in a ‘live design review’ to a panel of expert judges, chaired by Chris Williamson of Weston Williamson Architects. Judges will provide feedback on each team’s proposal, giving the audience an in-depth look at the ideas behind the schemes, and reveal how urban design problems can be tackled.

  • 3pm: welcome and setting the scene
  • 3.15pm: group design work
  • 5.15pm: end of group work, submission of ideas, break
  • 5.45pm: live design review
  • 6.50pm: thanks and close

This is a unique opportunity to explore and debate ideas about the future of Wekalet el Balah, so please join us for what promises to be a fascinating day.