Nowadays, it seems to be everywhere – the urban environment that feels smooth, polished and perfect. All buildings seem either new or renovated, and are generally in an excellent condition. Its public spaces are well-designed, well-maintained, clean and safe, if you conform to the rules. All spaces seem to be scripted according to the dominant norms and the needs of capital, and are populated by a socially, culturally and aesthetically homogenous crowd. New technologies offer seamless, on-demand services for almost everything.
Alongside luxury developments and public displays of wealth, over half of Cairo’s urban population, a megacity of over 17 million, live in unplanned and self-built communities. Massive population shifts and a lack of governmental oversight fostered a culture of collaborative urbanism, incremental architecture and entrepreneurialism. Due to the explosive growth created in the power vacuum after the 2011 revolution, the government has formally recognized this informality and services have started being provided. How will these highly nuanced building practices be brought under the remit of planning policy and urban governance? Will they change in the process to produce new forms of urbanism, or will they be accepted and become the new official standard?