Cairo: the Divided City

mohamed mahmoud in Cairo
The Second Wall Of freedom in Cairo

The 3rd Wall Of Freedom in Cairo

Partition has immense consequences for the built environment. The enforcement of divisions, borders and segregation means both creating physical ‘facts on the ground’, as the Israelis call it, and marking that delineation with walls, fences and voids where the two communities rub up against each other. Berlin had its 155 km long ‘Anti Fascist Protection Rampart’, Belfast its ‘peace walls’ (now called interface zones by the city’s socio-geographers), and Israel has recently begun construction on its ‘Seam Area’. The political motivations for this segregation, and the military methodologies enforcing it, are not so much directed at opposing armies as the mass of people either side of the divide. The first architectural casualty is, for the most part, housing, destroyed by low-tech arson and bombings or by armored bulldozers and Apache helicopters . . . or by decree using planning regulations and building permits to bureaucratize demolitions.

From Destruction of Memory: Architecture War by Robert Bevan

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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