The Nile is a north-flowing river in Africa and is among the world’s longest waterways, famed for its ancient history and the archaeological sites along its shores. The fertile Lower Nile gave rise to early Egyptian civilisation and is still home to the Great Pyramids and Sphinx of Giza near Cairo. Sightseeing boats, from luxury liners to traditional felucca sailboats, also cruise between the cities of Luxor and Aswan. Some of the important bridges that cross the Nile are:
Kasr El Nil Bridge:
Its structure dates back to 1931, when King Fuad laid its foundation stone to be inaugurated. It links Tahrir Square in Downtown Cairo to the Cairo Opera House in Zamalek. It also offers great views of the Nile and the landmarks scattered along its banks.
Al Manasterly Wooden Pedestrian Bridge:
Connecting Old Cairo with Roda Island, the Manasterly Bridge is a commonly used by those who want to visit the Manasterly cultural complex, which includes a palace, Oum Kulthoum Museum and Nilometer, located at the island’s southern tip.
6th October Bridge:
It is ranked as one of the longest bridges in the world, as its length measures 20.5 kilometers (12.7 miles). It connects the Agouza district in the western part of the city to Gezira (Zamalek Island) and on to the international airport in the eastern part of Cairo, crossing the Nile twice.
The Challenge: Bridges of the 19th and 20th Century
Bridges in Cairo, in their diversity of construction systems, materials, scale, type and history are living proof of the ongoing debate between two world-views and two ways of life. Naturally the story of bridges in Cairo, and the world at large, started with the pedestrian or pedestrian-friendly bridges. Pedestrian bridges like Al Manasterly and pedestrian-friendly bridges like Kasr El Nil were certainly erected to facilitate the act of crossing the Nile from one bank to the other. To connect the east and west banks of Cairo. However, the act of physical crossing was not their sole aim. Such bridges were designed with clear intention and great sensitivity to the human scale. They are suspended oases that are capable of crossing the urban hustle and bustle into the tranquility and introspectiveness of the Nile.
Fast forward to the installation of motorway bridges and highways, which came with a clear bias. In favour of the motorised vehicle and everything it represents; an entire worldview based on speed, mass-production, mechanical efficiency and capitalistic definitions of productivity and welfare. Bridges, like the 6th of October Bridge, do have wide sidewalks, but the materiality, design and bridge furnishing (or the lack thereof) are evidence of the motor-based and mechanically utilitarian intent.
The spontaneous and instinctive response of the citizens of Cairo, to these two world-views, has been truly amazing. The old and young sit calmly and patiently with their fishing rods dangling down from incredible heights, while newly-wedded brides and grooms disembark their vehicles to pose for pictures with the Nile in the background. At the same time, sweet-potato carts and juice and flower vendors are just a few more examples of where the Caireans’ hearts are. For without much talk and through their individual and sporadic acts, they transform the most hostile, brutalist and utilitarian into a festival for life.
This leaves us with the question: If the people of Cairo are capable of inhabiting the seemingly uninhabitable in such colourful ways, what would the result be if bridges were designed in ways that take into consideration their zest for life?
Like the Nile it crosses, every new bridge in Cairo could potentially, depending on the design approach, be a connector enhancing the city’s multi-layered fabric or an urban edge that ruptures the city’s urban, social, characteristic, spiritual and historical continuity. The fact that Egypt is developing its new administrative capital tens of kilometres to the east of Cairo leaves the latter with a golden opportunity to regenerate itself and its millennial narrative into a better and more meaningful future.
The challenge is global and an opportunity to advocate an ‘alternative living’ agenda for the 21st century that is capable of addressing the ailments of the highly motorised cities of the world and introducing better solutions for every grand city around the globe.
--The Challenge: Response
Participants are asked to:
- Design a living pedestrian bridge over the Nile connecting Midan Al-Tahrir Area (East Bank) to Al Zamalek area (West Bank) .
- Re-imagine the public space on the east bank of the Nile where the NDP building once stood, in and of itself but also in relation to Tahrir Square and the other important focal points on both the east and west banks.
The solution should offer a seed for new ways of life across Cairo, and potentially other megalopolises across the world. It should also be capable of identifying and regenerating interest in the existing activities on both banks, as well as suggest new activities, taking into consideration the entire context, which extends southwards to the Kasr El Nil bridge, where traffic could be reconsidered, and incorporates the corniche on both banks.
A Living/Habitable Bridge = Accommodates functions
It should not be merely a pedestrian bridge linking two sides, it should be a cultural piazza over the Nile, a destination in itself with a balanced mix of:
- Cultural and touristic use: visitors centre and tourist information.
- Recreational and retail uses.
- Administrative use: office, plant room, maintenance and storage.
- Hardscape (benches, lighting, other creative street furnishing).
- Piazza, public gardens and softscape.
- Observation decks overlooking the river and the rest of the city.
- Unobstructed emergency route.
- A public space connected to the wider context of the east bank.
- Bridge landing providing accessibility for all.
- Bridge landing providing accessibility for all at Al Masala Garden.
- The bridge is pedestrian only. It should be at least 300m long, with a width to be decided by the designer.
- Headroom clearance over any road traffic: 5.5m minimum.
- Bridge’s headroom over river traffic: 13m minimum.
- River navigable span (distance between two bridge piers): 100m minimum for two way navigation.
- River Navigable span (distance between two bridge piers): 50m minimum for one way navigation.
- Traffic could be reconsidered and the corniche on both banks can be incorporated.
- The urban interventions are not required to be discussed in great detail, rather in terms of general strategy and general approaches. Whereas, the actual solutions of the habitable bridge must be presented to the highest level of detail possible.
ScheduleJanuary 2020 - Competition Launch + Early registration
08/April/2020 - Start of the Standard registration
15/September/2020 - Last chance to register
1/November/2020 - Closing date for Registration
1/November/2020 - Submissions deadline
January/2021 - Announcement of Results
Date to be confirmed- Annual Tamayouz Excellence Award Ceremony
All Deadlines are 11:59 pm GMT (London)
Early Registration: $70 from 10/January/2020 - 07/April/2020
Standard Registration: $85 from 08/April/2020 - 14/September/2020
Late Registration: $100 from 15/September/2020 - End of registration period
Architects, students, engineers and designers are invited to participate in this prize. Participation can be on an individual or team basis (maximum of six team members). We encourage the participation of multidisciplinary teams. Under no circumstances will jury panel members, organisers or any of their family members be allowed to participate in this competition.
FIRST PLACE WINNER: $5000 + The Rifat Chadirji Trophy + Certificate + Trip to the 2019 Award Ceremony (Flights & Hotel)
SECOND PLACE WINNER: $1000 + Certificate + Trip to the 2019 Award Ceremony (Flights & Hotel)
THIRD PLACE WINNER: $1000 + Certificate + Trip to the 2019 Award Ceremony (Flights & Hotel)
HONOURABLE MENTION: Certificate + Publication of work in our annual book.
TOP 50 & TOP 20: Published on our website and social media pages.
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