An exploration of the juxtaposition between Real and Surreal, An exploration of the juxtaposition between Life and Death, An exploration of the juxtaposition between Rich and Poor, An exploration of the juxtaposition between Growth and Demise,
: in the slums of Greater Cairo
Ibrahim Garcia-Bengochea Carnegie Mellon University School of Architecture Thesis Studio 2013
5 RE-live by Ibrahim Garcia-Bengochea is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercialNoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
ENVIRONMENT Desertification Arid Climate Rain Fall Agricultural Levels
Land Development Political Standing Population Growth
High Population Density Growth Factor Self-Sufficiency Urban Agriculture
Soil Nutrition Land Availability Uses
High Building Density Plaza Space Urban Infrastructure
RELIGIOUS IMPORTANCE Daily Ablution Ritual Daily Prayer Ritual Site Grid Burial Process
Subtle Ecosystems Subtle Symbiotics
The term ‘ecosystem’ is based off of the understanding that all realms of life are symbiotic, on multiple scales. Within the sub-atomic realm, a deeply complex system flourishes that, in effect, allows the survival of a more complex system, the atomic. With the balanced function of the atomic system, a more complex system is granted its own balance and ability to continue. These colliding systems of proportional equilibrium continue up the food chain of survival leading to the galactic and in theory, the universal. All systems are dependent on those below and above on the scale of size. Humanity’s current definition and understanding of ARCHITECTURE is a plug-in derived by the human as a means to facilitate our survival on Earth. In that sense, our survival and course of life is addressed by the practicing design of Architecture, yet our deaths are not addressed. Our duty to sustain the delicately balanced ecosystem we survive in is rapidly changing as population densities exponentially grow. Architect Yona Friedman dictated that “the whole universe (also its parts) are, at every instant, in equilibrium,” yet the imbalances are creating an environment increasingly difficult for humanity to survive in. It is through this lens that RE-live addresses the both sides of the moment of death. The circle of life is embraced and catered for. Those living are provided with greater options and more reliable sources of ‘living’ whereas those deceased are provided with greater productivity and more efficient means of ‘dying.’ The current system only facilitates the trajectory of death, yet makes no means to reverse the production of opportunity.
DEATH DEATH DEATH DEATH
The current system of Islamic burial only facilitates the trajectory of death, yet makes no means to reverse the process in search of opportunity.
LIFE DEATH DEATH DEATH DEATH DEATH DEATH DEATH DEATH DEATH DEATH DEATH DEATH DEATH DEATH DEATH DEATH DEATH DEATH DEATH DEATH DEATH DEATH DEATH DEATH DEATH DEATH DEATH DEATH DEATH DEATH DEATH DEATH DEATH DEATH DEATH DEATH DEATH DEATH DEATH DEATH DEATH DEATH DEATH DEATH DEATH DEATH DEATH DEATH DEATH DEATH DEATH DEATH DEATH DEATH DEATH DEATH DEATH DEATH DEATH DEATH DEATH DEATH 10
ENVIRONMENT Desertification, Arid Climate, Rain Fall, Agricultural Levels
Semi-Arid Arid Extremely Arid
DESERTIFICATION Allan Savory, biologist and ecologist, proclaims that the major contributor to desertification is â€œbare ground.â€? As soil loses its ability to retain water and protect it from evaporation, desertification occurs. Reintroducing native plants and animals to the lands to live and decay in their location are the methods of reintroducing nutrition and the health back into the ground. Their reintroduction invites the cycle of growth and decay, life and death. All ecosystems are subjected to the same repetitive cycles to be sustained.
Egypt lies in a low rainfall and extremely arid soil zone. According to the KĂśppen Climate Classification System, Cairo is in a BWh zone (Dry Arid Low Latitude). To counter the low potential of evapotranspiration, greater quantities of water need to be immediately stored into the ground and released over a longer period of time, rather than in a shorter time span. The Arafaa has been bare since its realization as a cemetery in the 4th C BC. The land has been converted to an inhabitable land, but only to humans due to the constructed buildings and developed infrastructures. The ecosystem of the site was disturbed at this time to the point where the potential evapotranspiration exceeds precipitation. Native vegetation is mandatory in the re-fertilization of land due to its ability to survive the weather conditions without draining the soil of its nutrients at too rapid a pace. To the right is a diagram of plants selected for their ability to grow in the dry Sahara atmosphere and still bear fruit for the consumption of the Arafaa inhabitants and their livestock. The plantâ€™s fruiting season is also documented in the diagram relative to one another. With this method, a constant growth of produce will help sustain the community and possibly be used to entertain a market.
DEATH LIFE 15
Pepper Fig Lime Mango Guava Banana
y Bricfrkom NilembaNile e b Ado icked d fro rus p llecte Papy Clay co station + r d San ubic ft pe c 0 0 8
Quar y 80 cu in Aswan ,E bic ft per s gypt tation
Recycled by Zabaleen Community ~3000sqft tarp
Recycled by Zabaleen Community ~250 ft 3â€? piping
All materials used in the construction of the hub are harvested directly from Egypt. The mud and straw harvested to make the adobe bricks will be harvested from the shores of the Nile River only 2.5 km away from the site. The aluminium pipes and plastic tarpuline are products recycled by the Zabaleen Community located 4 km away from the site. The black granite is mined from a granite quarry in the south of Egypt, at a distance of 880 km from the site, a 12 hour drive. It is integral that all materials incorporated in the production of the RE-live sanctums be accessible by the residents of the Arafaa community.
HISTORIC IMPORTANCE Land Development, Political Standing, Population Growth
Today, an estimated population o 25
City of the Dead
The district now known as the City of the Dead was first deemed as a cemetery during the Caliphate era in the 7th C. Its funtion remained strictly a cemetery until the 16th C under Ottoman power. Islamic universities and schools (madrasas) were built in the immediate vicinity surrounding the cemetery attracting great deals of the lower economic and social tiers in search of blessings and monetary handouts from the upper class. This period marked the start of the dual function of the site. In the 1950s, under the first president Gamal Abd El Nasser, a housing crisis erupted due to overpopulation. President Abd El Nasser was cognizant of the dilemma growing in this district as the quantity of squatters increased and granted permission for the integration of urban infrastructures such as electricity and water (waste and otherwise). He looked the other way at these citizens squatting in their own and sometimes othersâ€™ mausoleums.
of over half a million live in this district. 26
POPULATION High Population Density, Growth Factor, Self-Sufficiency, Urban Agriculture
Saul Wurman included Cairo in his study of â€œ19 cities with over 20million people in the 21st century.â€? Due to the high rates of population growth Cairo is experiencing, locals have adopted to unique living conditions. The City of the Dead District has developed over the years into a high density residential and burial location due to the lack of funds to purchase or rent a house. Those dwelling within the necropolis are considered squatters because they pay no rent or taxes, yet still depend on urban infrastructures such as water, gas, and electricity to sustain their livelihoods. Within the City of the Dead district, three population densities can be observed ranging from high to low. The highlighted portions on the left distinguish the single-story mausoleums from the surrounding 4-5 story apartment buildings shoddily constructed to support citizens in similar social and economic standing. As described previously in the book, the site is surrounded by scholarly institutions focused on the further studying of Islam (Al Azhar University) and other universities dating back to the 16th C under Ottoman rule.
The images to the right and below are diagrams representing a calculation based off of average birth rate, mortality rate, and life span, in 10 generations and in 25 generations, respectively. One must consider where the future residents of the necropolis, as well as the future corpses, will be placed. With the SANCTUM in use, more ground space will be available for the placing of bodies and sustain a greater amount of residents living in the Arafaa.
fa >>c nt h >> co ild ad > un co ul >co t u r t __ nt co ps __ un e c 3 t 3 __ ou 3 nt
fa >>c nt h >> co ild ad > un co ul >co t u r t __ nt co ps 35 __ un e c 34 t _ o 6 _ 3 un 2 40 t _ _
CHILD 342 205 123 73 44 26 16 9 6
6 0 1 7
20 42 77 129 210
122 203 340
5 11 20 30 45 68 110 186 319
fa >>c nt h >> co ild ad > un co ul >co t u r t __ nt co ps 78 __ un e c 85 75 t _ ou 25 85 _ 7 nt 61 53 _ 02 _ 7 3 58
34 00 7
A range of professions are found within the realm of the necropolis including the recycling of aluminium, silk and wire weaving, the production and blowing of lighting fixtures, car repairs, as well as janitorial services performed for those residing outside the site. Along with these professions, there is also a large portion of residents who rely on more parasitic, unsustainable means of income.
drug manufacturing & distribution
The model on the right explores the different layers of activity predominant on the existing site. Outside the mausoleums, (mostly male) residents engage in their social engagements ranging from drinking tea, smoking shisha and playing backgammon for the elderly. The youth of the community play football and play tag around the standing cenotaphs located in the open plaza spaces. Within the mausoleums, normal and more personal household chores such as cooking and laundry are exercised. Beneath all this activity lie the decaying bodies of ancestors of community members as well as the ancestors of the mausoleum owners who live outside the necropolis. Two rooms can be found underneath each mausoleum, one dedicated to males and the other for females. Although the lifestyle exhibited within the Arafaa is a universal one, upon the arrival of a tourist or a mourner, activity switches to begging and the offering of small services (shown in the diagram on the previous page) for compensation.
GROUND LEVEL Soil Nutrition, Land Availability, Uses
39 Site Plan 224’ = 1”
Plan 12’ = 1”
Fruiting Tree Granite Cooling Wall Water Tank Sanctum Restrooms Water Collection Aluminium Pipe Retractable Tarp Shaded Plaza Space
Rainwater is collected on the RETRACTABLE TARP and sent to the water along ALUMINIUM PIPES to water storage tanks for filtering. From there, the water is pumped up the GRANITE COOLING WALL and let to flow down onto the user’s hands for ablution. The water is then sent to be used in the RESTROOMS followed by a sludge removal water filtration tank. Once translated from black water to grey water, the water is sent along a separate set of ALUMINIUM PIPES to water a designated FRUITING TREE to be incorporated into the urban agriculture for the community.
N-S Section 12’ = 1”
BUILDING DENSITY High Building Density, Plaza Space, Urban Infrastructure
Due to the age of the cemetery, mausoleums have been built in vacant lands not occupied with cenotaphs. That being stated, the plaza spaces at the ends of winding pedestrian walkways are filled with cenotaphs, signifying the burial of one or multiple bodies underneath. These bodies are translated into the source of nutrition for the fruiting plants as part of the cycle between life and death.
RELIGIOUS IMPORTANCE Daily Ablution Ritual, Daily Prayer Ritual, Site Grid, Burial Process
DEATH DEATH DEATH DEATH
In western culture, life and death are seen as two opposites. The inhabitation of cemeteries would be considered a surreal encounter between the two worlds. Individual lives contiguous to their own individual fates. This method is unappreciative of the balance that we dwell in. To live is to die and to die is to have lived. Neither can be experienced without the other. On another perspective, one can consider death to be a consistent repetition defining life as it expands. Only through constant death, life is achieved. This is the nature of space and time; only with the death of seconds are minutes allowed to exist. The inspiration and the focus of this project is placed on dissolving the tension between life and death, bringing these two vectors together to form a conscious and closed loop. Currently, a stigma exists in a close relationship being established between the communities of their respectful parties. Those living are not very comfortable with the notion of inhabiting a site reserved for the dead. This poses a problem as city populations continue to grow, yet little space is dedicated to the burial of these large populations.
The main program of the space is designed for the Muslim act of ablution. Ablution is the religious process of cleansing one’s self before prayer. Although the practice is not prescribed in the Qur’an, ablution is a mandate by the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) to be performed before all prayers. The rigidity and repetitiveness of the act of ablution is a meditative act. By washing one’s hands, mouth, nose, face, etc. in a prescribed order and manner, those performing the act succumb to the state of non-thinking, the state of only concentration and experience. This is the first step towards prayer and meeting God. The hub caters to those performing ablution in two manners: the functional and the experiential. Charcoal-filtered rain water is provided to the users as it is distributed from three separate water spouts located towards the top of the black granite wall. As the water cascades over the wall’s rough terrain, it cools its temperature to that of the unexposed wall as well as releases noises encouraging the state of trance and concentration needed for ablution.
Wind Rose - August
The Islamic process of burial is very specific. The body is to be buried within the day of passing after being washed and wrapped in nothing but muslin fabric. Upon entering the ground, the body is to be laid on its right side facing Mecca. This consistent method of burial has dictated a linear grid that the buildings and plazas follow allowing for a singular sanctum design to be designed in accordance to sun paths and wind direction.
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BIBLIOGRAPHY Robinson, Warren C and Fatma H. El-Zanaty. The Demographic Revolution in Modern Egypt 2007. Spinoza, Baruch. Causality, Meaningful Complexity and Embodied Cognition 2010. Sims, David. Understanding Cairo: The Logic of a City out of Control. Steele, James. Architecture for People: The Complete Works of Hassan Fathy 1997. Singerman, Diane. Cairo Contested: Governance, Urban Space, and Global Modernity 2011. Singerman, Diane. Avenues of Participation: Family, Politics, and Networks in Urban Quarters of Cairo. Princeton Studies in Muslim Politics, 1996. Singerman, Diane and Paul Amar. Cairo Cosmopolitan: Politics, Culture, and Urban Space in the New Globalized Middle East 2006. Sims, David. Understanding Cairo: The Logic of a City out of Control. Steele, James. Architecture for People: The Complete Works of Hassan Fathy 1997. Singerman, Diane. Cairo Contested: Governance, Urban Space, and Global Modernity 2011. Singerman, Diane. Avenues of Participation: Family, Politics, and Networks in Urban Quarters of Cairo. Princeton Studies in Muslim Politics, 1996. Singerman, Diane and Paul Amar. Cairo Cosmopolitan: Politics, Culture, and Urban Space in the New Globalized Middle East 2006.
RE-live carnegie mellon university school of architecture ibrahim garcia-bengochea