Thesis Defence: Nada Ibrahim NafehExport this event to calendar

Friday, October 23, 2015 — 12:00 PM EDT

Of the thesis entitled: 

[in]formal Pattern Language | A guide to Handmade Improvitecture© in Cairo
 

Abstract:

The thesis takes place in Cairo, a city governed by extreme informality with 64% of the population living in [in]formal settlements. Cairo's informality transcends, however, the boundaries of these areas and manifests itself daily in spatial and temporal appropriations by community members taking charge; improvising their way through the battle for resources and social justice, and claiming their "right to the city."
 
In contrast to many misconceptions, [in]formal settlements in Cairo don't depict the typical characteristics of slums and respond to the needs of the lower-middle class. The uncontrolled expansion of informal settlements on scarce agricultural land in Egypt constitutes a nation-wide environmental and self-sufficiency problem. Moreover, it triggers the following issues: lack of open green space, insufficient infrastructure, accessibility and garbage accumulation. Forced eviction and relocation of [in]formal communities, undertaken by the government, result in their further marginalization, loss of vitality and lack of communal responsibility.
 
In this context, where the [in]formal has become mainstream, the thesis raises the following questions: How can the [in]formal be  redefined? What is the role of the architect in self-organized communities? What are the tools to optimize current and future informal growth, while empowering communities and celebrating their improvisation?
 
The thesis introduces the term Improvitecture© (improvisation + improvement + architecture) as a catalyst for development and the architecture from, and for, informality. Improvitecture redefines traditional borders between architect and community member, planned and improvised, and, finally, formal and informal. Inspired by Christopher Alexander’s A Pattern Language, and through the case study of Ard El Lewa, the thesis proposes a process and an [in]formal Pattern Language manual, which serves as a guide to improve [in]formal areas and embed productive green spaces, sustainability and ownership in the resident's daily life. Within the framework of an open-source website, a workshop with children and an exhibition on site, community members, architecture students and experts collaboratively broke down the complex physical reality of informal settlements and their urban narratives into 101 patterns. Patterns were then analysed and combined with a set of tools and in-situ design solutions, which optimize them and allow for a more sustainable built environment. To further document and compile patterns for the manual, the wider community is encouraged to take part in this on-going open process by completing a pattern template and/or posting geo-tagged images of patterns to the website, which will then appear on an interactive map and a catalogue that communicate the identify of [in]formal areas. For further details on the [in]formal Pattern Language initiative, visit www.informalpatternlanguage.com.  
 
The examining committee is as follows:
 

Supervisor:

Mona El Khafif, University of Waterloo

 

Committee Members:

Adrian Blackwell, University of Waterloo

Magda Mostafa, The American University in Cairo

External Reader:

Dr. Luna Khirfan,  School of Planning University of Waterloo

 



The committee has been approved as authorized by the Graduate Studies Committee.


The Defence Examination will take place:  

Friday October 23, 2015
12:00PM

ARC 2026

A copy of the thesis is available for perusal in ARC 2106A.

Location 
ARC - School of Architecture
Room 2026
7 Melville Street South

Cambridge, ON N1S 2H4
Canada

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