Manar Moursi

In 2015 CLUSTER, an urban design initiative in Cairo, inaugurated a 5 day workshop/design competition to solicit ideas for the re-design of the public space of a passageway in downtown Cairo. CLUSTER identified this particular passageway as having potential to act as a catalyst for a larger project of urban redevelopment and revitalization of surrounding buildings, shops and passageways. I was invited to participate in this competition and my design, in collaboration with Yasmin Elayat and Bianca M. Hermansen, was selected for implementation.

Once a dead-end service alleyway, Kodak Passageway was transformed into a pedestrian path connecting Adli and Abd al-Khaliq Tharwat Streets during the 1990s, at the same time al-Bursa district and al-Alfi Street were pedestrianized. A Kodak store, labs, garage and warehouse occupied the west side, and a branch of the once-popular Brazilian Coffee Stores chain was on the east side, and remains there today, although shuttered. Surrounded nearby by a number of emerging art, film and design spaces (CIC, Cimatheque, and CLUSTER) as well as the famous Adly Synagogue, we felt that this particular passageway could act as a recluse. Rather than propose more commercial/artist center activities, our proposal was centered on creating a quiet ‘Green Oasis’ to offer a landscaped, peaceful refuge and breathing space from the noise of downtown. A place for meditative resting surrounded by aromatic trees, we felt that at most, perhaps the space could host outdoor cinema events every so often, projected on one of the buildings. I continued to work with CLUSTER's team on the schematic and design development phases after the competition and they continued the final phases of implementation and production.

 
 
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