Architectural firms have been competing head-to-head for the opportunity to redevelop downtown Cairo's Maspero neighbourhood. Egypt’s Ministry of State for Urban Renewal and Informal Settlements recently announced Foster & Partners, a British architectural firm, as the winners. In a press release
about the matter, Foster & Partners unveils that the plan will include commercial, residential, and retail spaces in this 35-hectare neighbourhood along the banks of the Nile River.
Maspero boasts high-rise buildings and hotels amid a series of slums, a stark but common contrast here in Egypt. Previous proposals for redevelopment in the Maspero area have been questioned and shot down due to the concern that low-income families in the neighbourhood would be evicted. This time, Laila Iskandar, Minister of State for Urban Renewal and Informal Settlements guarantees that residents will be temporarily relocated and those with uninhabitable homes will be given new accommodations in the newly renovated Maspero area.
As part of their vision for the iconic area, Foster & Partners intend to incorporate plenty of green space for public use, as well as a footbridge to the nearby Zamalek neighbourhood, to be lined with cafés and shops. However, amid these anticipatory developments are some concerns that the iconic nature of the Maspero area, including its Egyptian Radio and Television Union buildings and the role it played over the past revolutionary years, are being disregarded in the process. As plans for renovation are now underway, there are conversations to be had about the relevance of historic icons amid attempts at renovation and moving forward. Given Egypt's rich history and rapidly-growing architectural developments, this is highly relevant food for thought.