Ard-El-Lewa, MAS Urban Design (ETHZ)


The ETH Zurich Master of Advanced Studies Program in Urban Design at the Chair of Marc Angélil and directed by Charlotte Malterre-Barthes (with Something Fantastic and in collaboration with CLUSTER) initiated an investigation on informal settlements in Cairo, looking into designs for affordable housing units in the neighborhood of Ard-el-Liwa. Existing typologies of buildings in the area, their flexibility and qualities are displayed along with selected projects showing how rearranging existing building components can lead to new urban forms, and a betterment of the living conditions. 


Informal mode of urbanization in Cairo construction at this stage of development calls for a reassessment of the manner in which the discipline of architecture reacts to forces of urbanization operating beyond the usual legal framework while fundamentally questioning the validity of formal planning. Persistent urban growth shows that, while lacking public services and infrastructures, informal settlements are nonetheless successful in generating dense and affordable housing for the popular classes. However, a constructive governmental policy to legalize these settlements is yet to materialize and their potential is not understood.


The model displays remains of agrarian land, property lines and irrigation channels as the base for later urbanization, as well as the existing streetscape with established housing types of concrete frames and brick infill. Alternatives projects developed by the MAS Urban Design for an innovative architecture are positioned on site, in the urban fabric. 


Ultimately, the MAS Urban Design is working against the negative perception attached to informal areas and for a stronger engagement of architects and designers in these vibrant, inclusive and inventive neighborhoods, ultimately calling for governmental awareness to legalize, recognize and integrate these areas as an integral part of the city.


Team: Prof. Dr. Marc Angélil, Charlotte Malterre-Barthes (Director of Studies), and Something Fantastic (Julian Schubert, Elena Schütz, and Leonard Streich) in collaboration with local partners Cluster (Omar Nagati, Beth Stryker). Students from MAS Urban Design 2014-2015: Patrick Abou Khalil, Zoi Alexandropoulou, Bernardo Baillif de Sousa Falcao, Grigorios Dimitriadis, Christine Fisher, Marilena Fotopoulou, Ameya Joshi, Hee Chul Jung, Denise Kouniaki, Maria Kouvari, Tina Lamprou, Alice Merche, Daniel Ostrowski, Elisavet Papadopoulou, Shinji Terada, Francesco Tonnarelli, Faye Vitou, Dimitra Zarri, Kathy Zerlauth. Students from MAS Urban Design 2015-2016: Daniel Ariño Espallargas, Aikaterini Christopoulou, Felipe Combeau Oyarzún, Hugo Dos Reis Vieira Pinto, Ekkachan Eiamananwattana, Guido Greco, Georgios Kaldis, Georgios Lavantsiotis, Christina Lazou, Katarzyna Pankowska, Gide Sleiman Haidar, Sofia Symeonidou, Aknaw Taddese Yohannes, Maria Tsagka, Yuki Ueno, Ana-Caterina Viguera Andreu, Olga Vougioukalaki, Yao Ting Wu, Seunghee Yang.


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