Egypt plans to build new capital in the desert

Egypt’s Housing Minister has unveiled a proposal to build a new capital city from scratch on an undeveloped desert east of Cairo. The capital city currently suffers from congestion, overcrowding and pollution.

Cairo’s population now stands at 20 million – and it’s projected to double to 40 million by 2050. In order to alleviate the strain that overpopulation already places on the city, Egypt’s Housing Minister Mustafa Madbouley wants to build a new mega city by 2022 that will become the new governmental and business capital city for the country, reports World Architecture News.

Covering an area of 700 square kilometres with 200 square kilometres of preserved natural areas, the new capital city will be linked to historic Cairo through extensive public transit links, explains international design firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, which developed the initial urban plan. It will feature medium and high-density residential neighbourhoods with vegetated wadis to allow for passive cooling of buildings and city places. Each neighbourhood will be centred on a community public space with shops, schools, religious buildings and civic amenities.

“The new city will be built on core principles that include places of education, economic opportunity and quality of life,” said SOM partner Philip Enquist

But not everyone is convinced of the proposal. Brent Toderian, Vancouver’s former chief planner, told the Guardian that building a new city from scratch in only five to seven years is a massive gamble: “If you build it that fast, it will be a ghost town.” And Egypt has a history of building unfinished towns in the desert, explains the Guardian. For instance, New Cairo, a suburb built to the east of the city that was meant to house several million residents has only attracted a few hundred thousand more than a decade after it was built.


Photo credit: Ernie R, flickr/Creative Commons

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