Cairobserver — Take a coffee with your heritage!

Take a coffee with your heritage!

Bottom up approach to communicate heritage: a project in Downtown Cairo


How would it be possible to link the everyday users of the historical city with the tangible values of the building heritage?

Downtown Cairo is the district developed under the Khedive Ismail at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. The city plan was inspired by the streets and squares pattern introduced by Haussmann in Paris, and several European (and Egyptian) architects built palaces and apartment buildings using a rich stylistic vocabulary. Nowadays Downtown is the main lively heart of the city, hosting small shops, offices, houses, cafes and restaurants in a complex social, religious and functional equilibrium. A general lack of regulations regarding how to deal with the heritage and an old rental system are the main reasons for the neglect of the architecture and numerous demolitions of the old Ismaelia buildings. Some studies and projects started surveying and analysing the architecture and the intangible heritage (oral histories) of Downtown, but the main problem still remain the lack of interactions and communication between these scientific works and the inhabitants of the historical buildings:

The first step for the conservation is knowledge.

This project has the main purpose to start and encourage the communication between specialists and inhabitants in both directions, developing and supporting the awareness of everybody towards the architecture of Downtown. The coffee shop in Mohamed Mahmoud Street was selected to introduce small modification in the objects of daily use with a corporate design based on images of buildings and information about Downtown. It becomes the location for activities related to the architecture of the area. On the other hand, the project team is collecting the memories and stories of the inhabitants related to the places to document and to share the link between the tangible and the intangible heritage of Downtown.


The Downtown project is initiated by Vittoria Capresi and Barbara Pampe - Architecture and Urban Design Program GUC - and financed by the German Academic Exchange Service DAAD.

More info:

UPDATE November 22, 2012: The launch event on November 27th has been canceled.

UPDATE December 13, 2012: “Take a coffee with your heritage” launches TODAY!


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