International Development Planning Review

Reclaiming Cairo's downtown district: Contesting the nineteenth- and early twentieth-century European Quarter

International Development Planning Review (2010), 32, (2), 93–118.

Abstract

This paper examines the contested spatiality within Cairo's European Quarter in relation to various heritage inventories, official urban conservation approaches, real estate activities and local peoples' interests. It explores restoration and rehabilitation within Cairo's downtown which involved pedestrianisation of public spaces and architectural conservation and adaptive reuse of belle-époque buildings. Informal discussions and in-depth interviews were administered within the Stock Exchange Quarter with both primary stakeholders (local residents, shop owners, street vendors, urban youth) and secondary stakeholder agencies (local municipality, planners, entrepreneurs and a local NGO). Official rehabilitation has favoured more technical aspects of restoration of belle-époque buildings for future tourism, rather than enhancing the area's socio-cultural characteristics. The prohibition against community reuse of some buildings is a major barrier to rehabilitation. The paper advocates heritage management to safeguard Cairo's European Quarter which integrates everyday community activities with new commercial uses and tourism functions, so perpetuating the built environment heritage and involving grass-roots cooperation between local stakeholder groups.

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Author details

Fahmi, Wael

Sutton, Keith