Some people choose to go with the flow, while others think of an alternative to suit their own way and mindset. Taimur El Hadidi was one of those who did not want to just live an ordinary life and be another consuming human on the planet. He decided to build his dream house out of recycled materials and create a green heaven of his own in Egypt.
After studying at Faculty of Commerce English department in Alexandria, Hadidi have had a career working in the environmental field. He mainly worked in water and energy sector. Hadidi has always wanted to make a change that could serve the environment. But first he decided to be the change and start with himself, through building his own house using recycled materials in Egypt. “The turning point was the Revolution of the 25th of January in 2011. That what really gave me a push to to really walk the walk and not just talk the talk,” Hadidi says.
Hadidi never wanted to follow the mainstream way of living. He also never liked the concept of compounds and closed communities. Therefore, he decided to leave his apartment in Zamalek, buy a land in Sheikh Zayed and start with his dream house. He wanted to build an environmentally friendly house out of natural and recycled materials. This May, Hadidi moved to his own “Borg El Hadidi”, that he built in 4 years. Intrestingly enough, the house is located in “Green Revolution” street and was designed by the exceptional architect Nedal Badr.
The construction process
The land is 4 feddans that include 6 buildings that took total of 6 years to build. Important to mention that there was no initial design for the house before building. Moreover, they maintained a sustainable approach around the existing situation of the land.
“I’ve always liked to think and live freely without any rules or boundaries” Hadidi says. “At the beginning, I dealt with a construction engineer, but then I felt the limitations. Luckily after that, I came across El Sheikh Emad Abo Elhadid, an exceptional builder, artistic and decent person. He was so open minded, got excited to the idea and was truly of a great help. We then formed a team of 7 workers in different crafts. They are a collective of family and friends who live in Abo Rawash. They had so many connections that we could resource whenever we needed.”
“We got inspirations from many projects around the world that used recycled materials in building. First, we tried using plastic bottles in building the first building which is the fortress house. The main issue was filling the bottles with sand to use them as an alternative for bricks. However, the whole process was fun and we really enjoyed it a lot and it actually worked. We used around 3000 plastic bottles that were good in insulation of the walls. We also used old recycled wood in decorating.”
“After that we used limestone to build the underground theater . We call it “The Cloud” and it can hold up to 100 people in there. Then we built the guest house of mud. It consists of a room, kitchen and bathroom.”
The discovery of broken concrete
“For building the workshop, we wanted to use limestone that remained from building the theater. However, we found out that it would not be enough for the building. We did not want to get new limestone as getting it from mountains required a lot of time and energy.”
At that point we decided to take some time for a break and do our research. We found out that the government at that time had demolished an illegal kiosk in the area. The demolishing left behind broken concrete which looked exactly like the broken limestone. And that’s when we got inspired! I went to Sheikh Emad and asked him about the possibility of using this broken concrete instead of limestone and we decided to give this a try.
About recycling Hadidi added “That’s exactly the main concept of recycling, to use materials within the area. Then you can use less energy, less fossil fuel emissions and be really environmentally friendly. It makes no sense using materials from America or even Aswan.”
“When we tried it out, the broken concrete looked amazing and we loved it. Therefore, we decided to build the big house with broken concrete, since there was a lot of demolishing and renovation work in the area. It’s amazing to say that we used 180 trucks each carried 18 cm3 of broken concrete. That was a huge amount of concrete thrown in my land and we made use of it.”
Tires as a building material
Plastic and trash concrete were not the only recycled materials that Hadidi and his team used. They also tried interesting approaches using tires. They used large bulldozer tires for the landscaping and they also used them as windows frames for the kids’ rooms which added a special vibe to it.
Moreover, we aimed to have an energy efficient design and use minimum air conditioning. The house was designed around the context and climate, made use of the sun path and made the most out of the wind flow to make a chimney effect in the house letting in cold breeze and getting off hot air.
“I’m so proud of the effort. I feel happy to live in an environmentally conscious house that is environmentally friendly.”, Hadidi expresses.
A green touristic eco-lodge
The land has a strategic location, it’s 6 minutes from the Pyramids and 10 minutes from the airport. Therefore, Hadidi has a vision of enhancing eco-tourism in the area by creating an eco-lodge in the area. Hoping that the name of the street “Green Revolution” be more than just a name.
Hadidi aims to cater for campers who are coming to Cairo and don’t want to stay at a hotel while having a look round the City gems. They already built a camping site that is ready to welcome tourists and would be improved overtime.
Furthermore, Hadidi said that he would be more than happy to help developers build big sustainable projects and contribute in making the most out of the abundant materials around us. We hope to see more of such initiatives that can change the face of the city.