Egypt/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation  

5.3.5 Architecture and spatial planning

These two fields are subject to the Intellectual Property Protection Law of 2002, but Egypt is in an architectural mess due to not observing the laws that prohibit the demolition of buildings of artistic or architectural value, particularly ancient buildings (Antiquities Law 117 of 1983).

In a special interview, Dr. Bahaa Bakri (architect, founder of green architecture studies and diploma and chairman of the Green Party) said that Egypt has no legislations or laws related to the relation of architecture and environment or specify the environmental specifications that should be adhered to upon constructing any building. Dr.Bakri added that the duty of the National Organization for Urban Harmony is merely to beautify the general urban scenery and maintain the original architectural pattern of existing buildings.

And despite the existence of a law prohibiting the demolition of buildings aged more than 100 years as being part of the country's heritage, it is not to be considered a green law.

The ignorance of local architects in regard to green architecture is evident in the fact that the characteristics of the surrounding environment are not taken into consideration upon constructing their buildings. Concrete is the main construction material and houses are not designed to receive   air from North.

Another aspect of this ignorance is the use of glass facades to imitate Western patterns, despite that in Western countries this method is used to maintain the largest amount of heat inside buildings and allow maximum sun light given the long winter and freezing temperatures. In our country however we are in need to screen the sun and prevent heat not the other way round.

The traditional construction methods however are preserved in rural areas. In Nubian houses for example no windows are included in order to prevent the excessive heat but only small openings in the upper part of the wall to create air current.

The project of veteran architect Hasan Fathi creator of the Imarat el Fuqaraa (building for the poor) theory and school, in which he took into consideration the use of cheap materials abundant in the local environment and the employment of traditional architectural patterns, such as the cellar and the domes, failed because the underprivileged aspire to live in homes like those of the "rich" (apartments, etc.) and because clay and clay brick houses need constant maintenance.

Dr. Bahaa Bakri believes that the existence of a specialized engineering and architectural criticism against the spread of informal modern residential buildings will help architects realize the important relation between architecture and the environment.

Chapter published: 01-04-2016