In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Architecture and the Urban Life of Cairo

  • Introduction: The Architecture and the Urban Life of Cairo
  • Edited Books: Contextualizing Cairo
  • Digital Resources

Architecture Planning and Preservation Architecture and the Urban Life of Cairo
Yasser Elsheshtawy
  • LAST MODIFIED: 12 January 2022
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780190922467-0065

Introduction: The Architecture and the Urban Life of Cairo

When it comes to Cairo, there is a plethora of writing taking place amid its streets and alleyways. Trying to make sense of, and structure, such an immense output is quite a difficult task. However, this article aims to highlight some significant writings that would offer those interested in Cairo’s architecture an opportunity to learn more about the city and its built environment. My intent is also to expand the scope of the inquiry. Rather than simply focusing on specific buildings, I seek to include the broader urban context and also look at the socioeconomic conditions that gave rise to important structures. I start with a review of some major texts that have looked at the city from different perspectives and, in doing so, shed light on the city’s urban and architectural development. It is interesting to note that for the most part, authors in this section do not come from an architectural or urban-planning background. Instead they write from a historical, economic, and geographic perspective. Following this, I look at a variety of other sources and writings that have appeared in edited books and book chapters. I have also included journal articles, since they offer an in-depth examination of certain buildings and the city’s overall urban growth. In addition to writings about the city, I also sought to capture its “urban imaginary” (i.e., the extent to which its built environment has been represented by writers, filmmakers, and artists). To that end, a section is dedicated toward a review of key works and the extent to which they have shed valuable insights into Cairo’s past, present, and future. The city’s urban imaginary is also portrayed through the medium of film, which allows for a conveyance of a visual narrative that evokes the sight and sounds of the city. Here I review key articles discussing the representation of the city through cinema, which is then followed by a filmography of major movies released since the late 20th century. Last, I review online resources, offering researchers material about the city’s architecture and urban environment in the form of images, maps, and drawings, in addition to blogs discussing Cairo’s rich history as well as modern problems.

Books: Mapping Cairo’s Urban and Architectural Development

This section is divided into two parts. One looks at Cairo’s history, while the other reviews writings about the modern city. First, the historical section comprises key references that are considered main resources for those interested in the evolution of Cairo’s urban form and architecture. The following section, titled Living in the City, tackles the city’s ongoing and future problems.

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