Amazing, Beautifull, Constructed, Dreams, Ephemeral, ....... Valiant, Wonderfull, Xtraordinary, Y Zen destroy them?

1900bp stands for 1900 Buildings Preservation

This blog was set up as a device to launch a campaign against the often conscious and deliberate destruction of some amazing old buildings that are part of our common human heritage.


Cairo GGG (part II)

The Main Culprits

Now the problem here is not only about losing architectural heritage. It is about urban planning, which is the responsibility of the Ministry of Housing. According to urban planning law, every district is to submit its zoning regulations to the Ministry of Housing, and be held responsible for supervising these regulations. Accordingly, you had a Maadi in which every Villa was to be built on no more than 50% of the land, no closer than 5 meters from its fence, and the fence was no more than handsome, manicured bushes. In Heliopolis, buildings were not allowed to be more than 5 stories high, and like Maadi, no more than 50% of the plot of land was to be built on. Mohandessin also had its zoning regulations ensuring that buildings weren’t too tall or too closely built. In all neighborhoods, areas were divided and classified as residential, or commercial. So you couldn't just freely rent your apartment to a store in the middle of other people's homes. The problem now is that these zoning regulations were eventually thrown out the window. And a law was later passed allowing buildings to go as high as one and a half times the width of the street with a maximum of thirty six meters. Thirty six meters translates into approximately 12-13 stories high. There are obviously many, many buildings that are built past that limit. The law limiting the height of buildings to 1.5 times the width of the road is flaunted around by the Ministry of Housing as a control mechanism for building heights. However, even if this law is abided by (although it is more usually violated) it is still disastrous. Take for instance, the average number of cars in a 12 storey high building. They will most likely be close to 150. Of course parking areas cannot even sustain a quarter of that number. Thus, if original zoning regulations had planned for x number of dwelling units (producing an average of y & z number of people and cars) you end up with double or triple the planned figures, packed into the same area as a result of the new law issued by the Ministry of Housing itself. Studies were made to prove that if all buildings were built along the height regulations imposed by the Ministry of Housing (1.5x the width of the street), services allocated to each area would need to at least be doubled to reach their already humble target rates. Today we are starting to feel the consequences of the absence of urban planning in our everyday lives. As I was told by many people living in Cairo, you cannot walk around your house in privacy most of the time. Your neighbors can easily see and hear you through the windows. And to make matters worse, these densely packed apartments are sold at exorbitant prices, as we all know. Why do we put up with this? People must grow aware that the quality of their lives is compromised by this gross negligence, and they must demand their rights. For not only are we feeling crowded-out in our homes, most Egyptians are growing weary and frustrated with daily traffic in our streets. However, it's not only our nerves that are getting wrecked here, it's our lungs, our bodies and those of our children. About which more is explained below.

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