Celebrating Egypt’s long and rich history of science, from Pharaonic times to the present, the new Science City in the 6th of October was intended as a landmark scientific and educational institution dedicated to promoting curiosity and public understanding of the history of science in Egypt.
Significant scientific advances in ancient Egypt were in the fields of agriculture, astronomy, mathematics and medicine. The Ancient Egyptians explored and attempted to understand the motions of the stars, planets, and the moon and their impacts on time, seasons, and the flooding of the Nile - and by extension, agricultural and food production. They are also credited as being one of the first groups of people to practice agriculture on a large scale. This was possible because of their development of innovative irrigation systems, their proximity to the Nile, and the fertility of their land. Geometry and grids were patterns developed to allow better management of land and the circulation of water through canals. Today, viewing satellite imagery of Egypt a gridded canvas of patches of agricultural and reclaimed desert land stitched together still appears to be the dominant pattern of growth. Urban agglomerations burst out of this grid creating a loose network of constellations.
Our design of the new Science City therefore sought to recall in its spatial organization these agricultural grids that have so fundamentally set the configuration of growth and prosperity on Egyptian land.
Overlaying a grid on our site, functions are set within this pattern, but they are also arranged according to the constellation Orion - associated with Osiris, the Ancient Egyptian god of agriculture. Our buildings
were placed in a dispersed fashion on the grid we created in the site with continuous and open spaces to preserve each building’s access to prevailing winds and breezes from the north.
A reference to the new frontier of desert agriculture is made through circular elements within our rectilinear grid. They allude to center-pivot irrigation methods commonly used in reclaimed desert farming. The circular elements in our site always connect the function and program to the sky, they include sunken courtyards which bring in light and clouds, as well as the planetarium and observatory which were designed to allow access and appreciation of the night sky.
The natural topography of the site inclines gradually up to 11 meters on the north-eastern side of the site. We took advantage of this natural slope, exaggerating it and adding a further 4 meters to reach a total height of a 15 meter plateau. On this plateau we set the observatory and a variety of outdoor park and café programs to maximize vistas.
We also tried to use this plateau to our advantage embedding within it a multi-storey parking to accommodate visitors and administrative staff. Another program which is embedded on the south-eastern part of the site and plateau, is the research center. In addition to the exhibition spaces and permanent collections which will showcase current and historical specimens and artifacts, the new Science City will also include a world-class research center that will be at the forefront of efforts to understand two of the most important topics of our time: the nature and sustainability of life on Earth.
Design Authors: Manar Moursi and Ricardo Camacho
Design Team: Rowaa Ibrahim, Ahmed Morsi, Alya el Chiati, Wessam Talaat, Ivan Rupnik, Yannis Kitanis , Sara Saragoca
Exhibition Design Consultants: Valentín Trillo Arquitectos
Climate Design Consultants: Raphael Lafargue, Gabriela Barbulescu, and Max Bauer of TransSolar