From the « traditional » red brick to the industrialized cement block in Khartoum and Cairo : a linear route towards a modern and standardized city ?
On the basis of a PhD fieldwork of several months in Cairo and Khartoum, this presentation will deal with the links between the building materials supply chains and the contemporary urban transformations of these two capitals. By focusing on the red brick and the cement block, it is possible to distinguish several ways of building the city, relying on different spatial organizations and different actors. The paper argues that the technical and architectural transformations of the constructions in urban areas are deeply entangled with social, economic and political choices. Although Khartoum and Cairo are very distinct from each other size- and morphology-wise, one can draw a comparison by evidencing this common trend towards a standardization of construction and building materials. At the same time, the presentation will try to qualify these processes and show the many complex articulations between the bricks and the city.
Corten Pérez-Houis is a PhD student in Geography at UMR 8504 Géographie Cités and University Paris 1 Pantheon Sorbonne, under the supervision of Eric Denis and Alice Franck. He studies the interactions between the urbanisation processes in Cairo and Khartoum and the building materials supply chains. On the basis of a mainly qualitative methodology, he specifically reads the contemporary urban transformations of the two capitals through the analysis of the production, marketing and use of the red bricks.
Contextualizing the early use of reinforced concrete for the reconstruction of missing historic domes in Cairo
Several brick or wooden domes constructed during the Mamluk period in Egypt (1250-1517) were by the nineteenth century missing. The members of the body in charge of restoring Egypt’s Islamic monuments between the 1880s and 1950s decided to reconstruct many of these domes, initially using bricks, then using the relatively new system of reinforced concrete with the earliest project being discussed and implemented between 1897 and 1901. Today, both ‘reconstruction’ as well as ‘the use of reinforced concrete’ in historic buildings are sometimes contested, leading to a posteriori judgements. This presentation, discussing a number of case studies of reconstructing missing Mamluk domes using reinforced concrete, aims at contextualizing why and how these decisions were taken.
Dina Bakhoum is an engineer and art historian, specializing in cultural heritage conservation and management, who has long field experience on projects in Cairo and Upper Egypt (2000-present). Her research and publications deal with Egypt’sI islamic, Coptic and modern architecture, the waqf (endowment) as a maintenance system, and the history and policies of heritage conservation in Egypt. Her PhD analyzed the restoration interventions of the Egyptian Comité de conservation des monuments de l’art arabe between the 1880s and 1950s. She is currently a post-doctoral research fellow at the Institut français d’archéologie orientale (Ifao) and the Centre d’études et de documentation économiques, juridiques et sociale (Cedej).