Cairo's Green Urban Vision

An unusual project weaves architecture, urban planning, preservation and social and political issues.

October 21, 2004, 2:00 PM PDT

By Abhijeet Chavan @http://twitter.com/legalaidtech


"Can thoughtful urban planning heal deep cultural wounds? That is the question raised by the new 74-acre Azhar Park, whose luxurious hilltop gardens are meant to spawn a revival of this city's old decaying Islamic quarter.

Conceived 20 years ago by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, a font of revitalization projects in the Muslim world, the project's aims could not be more noble. The park is the largest green space created in Cairo in over a century, reversing a trend in which unchecked development has virtually eradicated the city's once-famous parks. ..

But it is the trust's willingness to engage the harsher realities of the park's surroundings that makes this project unusual...

The result is an urban vision that is startling in its scope. And it reaffirms that the Aga Khan Trust has become one of the most important institutional advocates for architecture in the world. Unlike the Hyatt Foundation's more famous Pritzker Prize, which is essentially a beauty contest, the trust's vast network of programs has long acknowledged that architecture, urban planning, preservation and social and political issues are forever entwined."

Thanks to Melissa Chow

Tuesday, October 19, 2004 in The New York Times

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