rE-gEnErating Slums!

These days a lot of initiatives are beginning to emerge in Egypt especially after the 25th Jan revolution with the aim of "developing Cairo slums"! But most of them if not all plan to achieve this goal either by total relocation and rebuilding of the whole vast areas of these spontaneous settlements-the above map show the population of the "slum dwellers"  in Cairo compared to other cities- neglecting the existing long established social networks-which is an important factor of their resilience- among these communities and imposing an alien life style to those who live there; a life style that we think that it will be better for them. The other way is superficially painting the buildings of the slums just to look "nice" for a remote viewer or a passerby riding a car fast on the ring road. This mode of thinking -that is to attain to the surface layer and neglect the core- is not that different from how the overthrown regime used to deal with architectural Heritage of Cairo and its Live context -the recent "development" of AI-Moez St. is the best example for this attitude.

The picture above is for a favela called Rocinha in Brazil. I'll try to show in the following what it takes to regenerate it or at least a small part of it.
First Jan Kudlicka ,who conducted the research project that is presented here, has spent nearlly a year studying the area.That shows how much these settlements are complex and should not be taken lightly!

Second the process of regeneration happens gradually through 2 phases, which is important for the sustainability of any project not just to record that a project has been initiated no matter whether it worked well or not.Same attitude happens during election times were promises of projects and may be initiation of these projects but after the elections are over the project usually halts or turn out to be something else!

The proposed scheme intend to push the residences up one floor to develop a space at street level for commerce and services such as medical and education Centers that usually these areas are deprived of except for some private donations.This will contribute to the socio-economic condition of the community. This integration between services and housing used to be the traditional way that has been neglected for the sake of the myth of segregated use in all the new towns and developments that surrounds Cairo.

The 2nd phase divides the neighborhood into vertical zone where certain functions take place.The rooftops of the building are proposed to become places for public assembly and community recreational spaces such as open air cinemas and theater or vegetable and fruit gardens that selling its product can be an income generator , this is called "Urban Agriculture".

This proposal should not be considered as a model project for developing slums but it shows that to develop slums it take more than just to relocate people and build new houses for them in place of the old ones or just decorate the existing ones!

These were my thoughts but for more details on the scheme:
regeneration-of-the-favela-de-rocinha-slum by jan kudlicka

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The people from the barrio built the city twice: during the day we built the houses of the well-off. At night and at weekends, with solidarity, we built our own homes, our barrio.

  —Andrés Antillano, resident of Caracas, April 15, 2004