Urban Regeneration of Public Space – AI-Alfi Street – Downtown Cairo

Urban Regeneration of Public Space – AI-Alfi Street – Downtown Cairo

S. Attia Z. Shafik A. El Halafawy H.A. Khalil

Department of Architecture, Faculty of Engineering, Cairo University, Egypt

1 May 2017
| Citation



Urban regeneration has been an accepted strategy for reviving city centers around the globe in Western Developed settings and in developing cities for decades. In Cairo, post January 25th Revolution, the Egyptian government sought an approach to upgrade several sites in downtown classical Cairo, to set new conditions for use of public space, to redistribute the power of authority and re-define the rules for the claim of public space of the city. The Cairo Governorate officially launched many projects within the same period; mainly focusing on refurbishing squares and streets, facades face lifting, controlling vendors’ trespassing and regulating car parking space among other regulations within Downtown area. However, having accepted and acknowledged the governmental intentions of the regeneration projects a question poses itself as to ‘How the community perceives and cherishes those initiatives?’ More important questions are raised regarding the regeneration of Al Alfi Street, the case study that addresses the governmental attempt in down town Cairo in 2015. It brings to light the dynamics enacted between different stakeholders. A research is conducted by adopting participant observations, surveys, questionnaires, and interviews with the local community and different stakeholders to understand their perception and appreciation to the ‘2015’ urban regeneration attempt. The findings of the paper set the urban regeneration principles in a discussion aiming at assessing the stakeholders’ involvement versus their goals and measuring their satisfaction with the outcome of the project, while still posing the question of the meaning of urban regeneration to the local community and to alternative scenarios that could yield more successful outcomes.


downtown classical cairo, public spaces, right to the city, street vendors, sustainability, urban regeneration

1. Introduction
2. Urban Regeneration: the Process and the Product
3. Urban Regeneration in the Cairene Downtown Context
4. Setting the Scene for Urban Regeneration in Downtown Cairo
5. The Right to Public Space
6. Public Open Space as a Domain for Urban Regeneration
7. EL Alfi Case-Study
8. Conclusion

[1] This paper is developed throughout a joint Egyptian-French project funded by the STDF (Science and Technology Development Fund), Egypt.

[2] Couch, C. & Fraser, C., Introduction. Urban Regeneration in Europe, eds. C. Couch, C. Fraser & S. Percy, Blackwell Publishing: Oxford, pp. 1–16, 2003. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/9780470690604

[3] Tallon, A., Urban Regeneration in the UK, 2nd edn., Routledge, 2013.

[4] Turok, I., Urban regeneration: what can be done and what should be avoided? Istanbul 2004 International Urban Regeneration Symposium: Workshop of Kucukcekmece District, Kucukcekmece Municipality Publication: Istanbul, pp. 57–62, 2005.

[5] Roberts, P., The evolution, definition and purpose of urban regeneration, Urban Regeneration: A Handbook, eds. P. Roberts & H. Sykes, Sage Publications in association with the British Urban Regeneration Association: London, pp. 9–36, 2000.

[6] Barnett, J., The Elusive City, Harper and Row: New York, 1986.

[7] Bianchini, F. & Parkinson, M. (eds), Cultural Policy and Urban Regeneration: The Western European Experience, Manchester University Press: Europe, 1993.

[8] Ministers Responsible for Urban Development in the EU, Leipzig Charter on Sustainable European cities, May 2, 2007, Approved at the Informal Council held in Leipzig on 24, 25 May 2007.

[9] Informal Ministerial Meeting on Urban Development (2010) Toledo Declaration, held in Toledo, 2010.

[10] ISIS Waterside Regeneration Sustainability Charter, January 2013.

[11] El Kadi, G., Le Caire Centre en Movement, Institut de Recherché pour le Développement: Marseilles, 2012.

[12] Department of Architecture at Cairo University & IRD, Regenerating Public Space in Central Cairo, Joint research, Third Report, Cairo, 2015.

[13] HERCOMANES: Institut de Recherche et D’etudes sur la Mediterranee et le Moyen-Orient (GREMMO), InstituoUniversitario di Architettura di Venizia, Faculty of Architectural Engineering at the University of Aleppo & the Centre for Architectural and Engineering Support at Cairo University, Heritage Conservation & Management in Egypt and Syria “HERCOMANES”, 2000-2003 Project Report, Cairo University, 2003.

[14] Abdelhadi, A., El Nachar, E. & Safeieldin, H., Pedestrian Street Life in Historic Cairo - Authenticity and Counterfeit, Revitalising Built Environments: Requalifying Old Places for New Uses Proceedings, International IAPS-CSBE & Housing Network, 2009.

[15] Attia, S., Revitalization of Downtown as Center for Social Democracy and Sustainable Growth, Ecocity Summit Book Library, 2012.

[16] Lefebvre, H., La Droite a la Ville, Anthropos: Paris, 1967.

[17] Purcell, M., Excavating lefebvre; the right to the city and its urban politics of the inhabitant. GeoJournal, 58(3), pp. 99–108, 2002. http://dx.doi.org/10.1023/B:GEJO.0000010829.62237.8f

[18] Purcell, M., Citizenship and the right to the global city: reimagining the capitalist world order. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 27(3), pp. 564–590, 2003.

[19] Purcell, M., Recapturing Democracy; Neoliberalization and the Struggle for Alternative Urban Futures, Routledge: London, 2008. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1468-2427.00467

[20] Harvey, D., The right to the city. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 27(4), pp. 939–941, 2003. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.0309-1317.2003.00492.x

[21] Kafafy, N., Right to urban space in post-revolution cairo: a study for street vending phenomenon. Proceedings of Responsive Urbanism in Informal Areas International Conference, Towards A Regional Agenda for HABITAT III, Cairo, Egypt, 2014.

[22] Malsin, J., Cairo street traders squeezed out in push to make city ‘revolution free’. The Guardian, 2015.

[23] Okabe, A., Reclaiming public space for people: the roots of european urban regeneration, DBJ Research Center on Global Warming, Discussion Paper Series No. 38 (7/2011), Development Bank of Japan: Japan, 2011.

[24] AbdElalim, E., Social balance in urban space: towards a new vision of urban space in Egypt, Unpublished PhD thesis, Cairo University, Faculty of Engineering, 2002.

[25] Trebeck, K., Private sector contribution to regeneration: concepts, actions & synergies, working paper No.9, Centre for Public Policy & Regions, 2007.

[26] Hawas, S., Khedivian Cairo – Identification and Documentation of Urban Architecture in downtown Cairo, The Arab Contractors Press: Cairo, 2002.