Al-Khalifa Heritage & Environment Park

Ground Water Research Project

Submission: March 02, 2017
Registration: March 02, 2017
Language: English
Location: Cairo, Egipt
Prizes: Please see details below
Type: Open


The International School seeks interdisciplinary-minded students and young professionals to work collaboratively to develop innovative design solutions for a proposed Heritage and Environment Park. The park will occupy a critically important site at the southern gateway to Khalifa neighborhood and overlooking the 13th century al-Ashraf Khalil and Fatima Khatun Domes, monuments of great heritage significance.

Design proposals will address goals of enhancing public open space, empowering community, fostering environmental awareness, celebrating heritage, stimulating economic activity, and improving accessibility and climate. Teams will examine techniques for converting groundwater present on the site from a liability to an asset that will provide functional and aesthetic benefits to the park and neighborhood. These dewatering strategies are intended to have applicability beyond Khalifa. In addition, after developing the design, part(s) of it will be piloted.


The International School is eligible to individuals with backgrounds in Architecture, Landscape Architecture, Urban Design, Engineering, Hydrology, Ecology, Community Development, Construction Management and other affiliated disciplines and professions.
There are no registration fees. Participants are responsible for travel and accommodation arrangements and expenses.

This project builds on five years of experience of Athar Lina Initiative in Khalifa, through integrated work that conceives of heritage as a vehicle for development. It is organized by Megawra-Built Environment Collective under the supervision of the Ministry of Antiquities and Cairo Governorate and funded by the American Embassy and the American Research Center in Egypt.
The project represents a partnership with the University of Oregon and Cornell University in collaboration with Takween Integrated Community Development. The International School will take place in Khalifa Community Center in Historic Cairo.


Al-Khalifa Heritage and Environment Park project builds on the momentum of multiple, related initiatives in Khalifa neighbourhood and focuses on a state-owned strip of empty land strategically situated at the southern gateway of Khalifa Street; a site that overlooks two critically important monuments. Cairo Governorate has begun work on this plot of land with a goal to convert a 400 sqm section into a playground, urban gardens, heritage and environment support centre, and café, as well as the conversion of a staircase between Zeinhum housing project and Khalifa neighbourhood into a ramp to allow improved circulation for persons of all abilities.

In light of the findings of the Conservation School organised by Athar Lina as part of Khalifa Groundwater Research Project, the Governorate now wishes to expand and adjust the scope of this project to include a multi-functional environmental component to rehabilitate the entire area of the ridge.The project will direct groundwater and water from leaking supply pipes to the site as a resource that can be utilised to more effectively achieve environmental project goals. While traditional dewatering approaches involve routing collected water to the sewage system, thereby taxing an already overloaded system, this project will use this water to enhance public open space and realise other benefits.

The open space of the site, and its environs, presents environmental, safety and security hazards. At the same time, it is one of the neighbourhood’s most untapped resources since it has the potential to support critical services and provide much needed women/children friendly spaces. The project as is intended will become a replicable model for aligning goals of quality public open space and improved environmental function, as well as serving as a model for government/civil society interdisciplinary collaboration.

The full range of functional and aesthetic improvements associated with project implementation includes:

•     Enhancing public open space in an underprivileged inner city neighbourhood

•     Empowering women, children and youth

•     Fostering environmental sustainability and awareness

•     Conserving heritage and historic building stock

•     Creating jobs, alleviating poverty and enhancing economic vitality overall by celebrating important cultural heritage sites and thereby increasing tourism

•     Improving accessibility to quality open space for about 30,000 inhabitants of Khalifa and Zeinhum Housing Project, all within a 15 minute walking distanc.

•     Dropping the water table at al-Ashraf Khalil and Fatma Khatun Domes, and surrounding neighborhood resulting without overload sewage systems.

•     Reducing the urban heat island effect

Program and Parameters

What follows is a listing of desired uses for the site. Although these are described separately, a major emphasis of the International School will be to establish synergies and interactions between them.

Recreation Space

•    Recreation for families, particularly women, children and young teenagers of Khalifa.                It will include  women’s sports, a children’s playground, and seating areas (note that field        studies have shown that these groups are the least served by public and open space.                These uses will complement the project implemented in the area by Cairo Governorate          that includes a football field).

Urban Gardening Centre

•     A micro-gardening area with facilities for training women and youth in urban                                 gardening

•     A system to intercept groundwater that is causing damage to heritage sites

•     Planting of certain species of trees for reduction of subsurface water levels and for                   reduction of the heat island effect in the neighborhood.

•     A place for small scale environmental measures and for introducing participatory                       approaches through awareness and training

•     A permanent exhibition on heritage and environmental issues and concerns

Go to the competition’s website