Independent Design Magazine

Built Environment Futures event discussing urban i...

Built Environment Futures event discussing urban issues

Built Environment Futures Networking event hosted by Nextarchlab - Photo courtesy: Doha Moustafa

On Saturday, 9th of November, NextArchlab hosted Built Environment Futures event in the AUC. The event’s aim was to link stakeholders and urban design enthusiasts to network and discuss different urban issues. First Dr. Amr Abdel Kawi gave an introduction to the event aim at creating a conversation between different parties. Then each pitcher introduced their topic that was up for discussion and analysis.

Mr. Amr Abdel Kawi introducing Built Environment Futures Event - Photo courtesy: Doha Moustafa

After the event ended, the discussion moved to the online discussion panel. Nextarchlab’s website is offering an online platform connecting the pitchers with the interested participants. The online dialogue aims to reach solutions that can be achieved in the future.

Here are the main issues discussed during the Built Environment futures networking event:

Sustainable mixed-use development

Rana Zein’s pitch was about the separation of functions in new cities and how it is affecting the quality of life. Despite being a major real estate selling point, separating functions has proven its dysfunctionality. This is because residents in new cities suffer from services and mobility.

The discussion was mainly about creating a new mixed-use formula while considering issues of security and quality of life. Among the suggestions was including some needed informal activities in public spaces and make it profitable to the developers. Also, another suggestion was creating a bike-sharing system inside specific zones as a sustainable mobility system. Besides, enhancing sidewalks and locating the services within a walkable distance will greatly affect users.

Experience the real quality Construction Techniques & Materials

Mohammed Magdy’s pitch was about sustainable construction techniques and materials and how to make it profitable to stakeholders. The discussion questioned how construction and maintenance can guarantee controlling cost, time and quality. Also if we need to develop new methods and interventions to help achieve sustainability.

Participants’ discussion with pitchers - Photo courtesy: Doha Moustafa
Participants’ discussion with pitchers - Photo courtesy: Doha Moustafa

Rethinking New Urban Communities Cityscape

How to create an urban community to serve all classes without a sense of informality? Mai Abouldahab was pitching a critical topic concerning the emergence of food carts and kiosks in Fifth Settlement. Residents are complaining about the informality of such carts and how it is damaging their neighborhood. Meanwhile, these carts are meant to serve the working class of New Cairo.

Among the suggestions are an urban management committee to organize the commercial activities. This can happen by connecting residents with vendors and governmental institutions. The regulations should organize the vendors’ locations, activities, and even kiosk’s designs.

Urban Management in the Age of IoT

In the age of digitalization, how can we manage the right data in the right time frame?  Lamis Moawad’s discussion was about data management in urban performance. In Egypt, the challenges are sourcing data and the unavailability of digital management tools. Therefore, participants discussed the definition of 3 scopes to work with. Small cities contain up to 10,000 users, medium up to 50,000 large up to 150,000 and super up to 1 million. With the help of data specialists, programmers and market research, we can reach solutions.

Lamis Moawad's pitch on Urban Management in the age of IoT - Photo courtesy: Doha Moustafa
Lamis Moawad's pitch on Urban Management in the age of IoT - Photo courtesy: Doha Moustafa

Wasel App connecting stakeholders

Built Environment futures event has a clear aim of connecting parties. In Egypt, we have a lot of NGOs and CSRs and initiatives working to help the poorer communities. However, each stakeholder is detached from the other. Therefore, Omar AlTawansy thought of creating a platform to connect all stakeholders.

Wasel, is an online interactive map supported with an application. It’s a platform where residents can upload their problems and connect stakeholders willing to help those communities. Moreover, there will be different categories from waste, infrastructure, unemployment, and transportation.

Biking in the desert

Bikability is suggested as the answer to mobility problems in new urban settlements. However, there seems to be a gap between the concept and the on-ground application. Omar Aboutaleb is questioning how can bikability meet user demands. Participants discussed if we are missing the know-how of biking mobility? Issues like parking spots, accessibility, safety, and comfort were up for discussion.

Towards Socially Responsible and smart development paradigm

Urban development is moving towards creating new communities while the old ones are deteriorating with poverty. We got a lot of CSR initiatives working to help those communities. However, they need coordination in order to protect the value of the investment. This was the main discussion of Mai Hafez, to reach a plan for long term investment protection.

Urban Glossary for the Public

Nagla Al Khoreiby’s pitch was about using residential gaps and creating new public spaces where human resources gather and interact. The initiative will go through two phases. The first phase will be about mapping certain public zones in Cairo. Moving to the second phase which is the digital platform displaying the urban glossary of residual spaces. The platform will then connect potential collaborators and human resources to make proposals.

Photo courtesy: Doha Moustafa
Photo courtesy: Doha Moustafa

Participants suggested to focus first on the participatory approach. The start should be from discussions with the people and face to face conversations. Furthermore, guidelines will regulate the commercial private services within the public space.

Creative Housing solutions for B class

In the current time, housing projects are either targeting A class or C class. In this hassle, the middle class is struggling to find appropriate housing. Amr Yousef along with the participants discussed the real nature of the middle class in Egypt. Then the discussion went towards how to attract developers to invest in middle-class housing. The main question was how to provide housing for the middle class while keeping it profitable for the investors? Participants discussed the role of the government in supporting developers to build for the middle class. Moreover, they discussed rules that can guarantee a certain percentage in real estate projects dedicated to the middle class.

Rebranding Upper Egypt

Upper Egypt’s architecture is full of mesmerizing details that tell a story of its own. Nouran Moustafa’s question was how to narrate these stories in a way that engages residents and help in urban rebranding? Also, how to attract investors to realize the potential in this new narrative and invest to rebrand upper Egypt? Providing an economical model to reviving cultural heritage is crucial.

Participants’ discussion with pitchers - Photo courtesy: Doha Moustafa
Photo courtesy: Doha Moustafa

First, participants discussed the diversity of Upper Egypt’s cultural heritage. The question was which part of Upper Egypt are we addressing? Moreover, how can we make use of the investment in a way that preserves the nature of Upper Egypt’s cities and not turning it to another modern city? After that, participants discussed different branding and media techniques. These can range from film and tours to storytelling workshops to mobile applications to moving exhibitions

Streets for children

Injy Ashour’s pitch was addressing urban development and its relationship with children’s behavior. The issue of street children and how they adapted patterns using streets as their place of residence was up for discussion. This greatly reflected how the streets design neglect children and their needs. The discussion went through how we can study these patterns and develop streets.

Built Environment Futures event was the first networking phase. Currently, the pitchers along with the participants are in the incubation phase. Surely, you can now be part of the dialogue on the online discussion regarding any of these topics. Finally, in the Realization phase, each team will get a chance to pitch their project ideas. That’s at the linking event hosting potential stakeholders.

An architect who’s passionate about movies, design, and advertising. Living for the art of storytelling in different ways, and always seeking to write inspiring stories about good things in the world.