Exhibition Location: Egyptian Pavilion, Venice Bienniale 2018, Italy
Proposed Location: Cairo, Egypt
Project Team: Afaf Ali Badran, Lara Hassan Waked
Status: Contributor Published
Catalogue link: Download catalogue
The concept of a free Do It Yourself commercial place is common in open spaces in old and informal urban places in Egypt and is called “souq”. The DIY souq is a typical tradition with roots in the culture. These open souqs have been part of traditional urbanism for so long that they have become inseparable from its ingredients. Up to this day, they are responsible for the special vibe in many Egyptian streets in old and informal areas.
However, in such areas where vendors and artisans use any free space, shaping it freely, dynamically and spontaneously, everyday urbanism often grows out of control. The number and type of vendors, the area occupied, the dynamism and spontaneity, all need to be regulated.
The necessary supporting infra-structure need to be provided so that these souqs may serve the interest of the people with the least drawbacks. Alternative accessible places need to be allocated. Places which need to be revitalized, constantly visited or sustainably maintained could serve well. Environmental development is one of the aims of Darbellabbana, a non-profit entity working in Darb Al Ahmar and other old districts in Cairo. In this paper, Darbellabbana proposes a practical solution and location for an artisan souq that can take place of the piles of rubble under an old historic aqueduct in Cairo.