Lost spaces

17-10-2014 05:57 PM

Mary Fikry

New Urban Topologies (NUT) is a dialogue project that inspires a participatory process within the field of urban planning. During the last three years, Färgfabriken-Center for Contemporary Art and The Swedish Institute in Alexandria, in collaboration with Alexandria University and Gudran for Art and Development, brought together official decision-makers from Alexandria urban planning office, experts, architects, students, academics, researchers and others from the civil society. The workshops also convened participants from Stockholm, Sweden, Balkan and from MENA region.
The aim has been to discuss the future development of Alexandria, based on the needs, opportunities, and aspirations of the participants and the citizens. This process is based on a method from Färgfabriken and the program, New Urban Topologies. The first workshop was conducted in October 2011 and resulted in a book; Alexandria—The city of layers. The second workshop; in February 2011, focused on a defined area of Alexandria called Kafr Ashry, located in the neighborhood of Minet al Basal. It is in the vicinity of west Alexandria and used to be an industrial area. Kafr Ashry is a low income district characterised by a high density of residents, surrounded by abandoned warehouses and vacant land. During this workshop inhabitants from Kafr Ashry participated in parts of the workshop and met the decision-makers from Alexandria Planning Office in a direct, frank and open discussion about problems and opportunities in Kafr Ashry.
The focus of the third workshop last September was “Lost public spaces” – with a focus on women and children and recycling projects.
The workshop group visited Kafr Ashry district after a presentation of the area by Sameh el-Helawany from Gudran and Heba Abul-Fadl from Alexandria University. The group studied an area that could be defined as a “lost space” with the potential to be used as a public space for the citizens residing there. The group also met with inhabitants of the area and shared their concerns. They then discussed experiences from the city of Beirut, Riyadh and Amsterdam from a recycling perspective with a particular focus on women and children.
Three different sub-groups looked at developing the “lost space” in Kafr Ashri from an economic, social/cultural and environmental perspective. The working groups all focused on utilising citizen participation and materials already at hand or accessible in the area. They generated project proposals to be studied by the partners and brought forward as recommendations to possible donors and implementing actors.

Watani International
17 October 2014

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