As a first stage towards preserving a valuable neighbourhood of historic Cairo, a team of four art historians and two conservation architects will survey and assess the conservation state of historic commercial buildings in the area of Bulaq, Cairo, the city’s historic river port. Bulaq is a largely overlooked quarter of the historic city with a large number of unlisted historic buildings – including centuries old wikalas – large commercial courtyard buildings. The oldest of these date back to the Mamluk period (1250-1517 AD).

The training of a young Egyptian team (3 historians of Islamic Art and Architecture and one graduate architect) to carry out survey work on historic buildings will be an integral part of this project, building local capacity.

The work will be carried out for the duration of one calendar year (2019-2020) by the “Heritage and Traditional Arts Association” (HATA) a local NGO, under the direction of Dr Hossam Mahdy, a seasoned conservation architect, and Dr Hossam Ismail, an authority on Egyptian history of the Mamluk and Ottoman Periods.

The output will be the publication of the identification and prioritization of actions for the safeguarding of commercial historic buildings in Bulaq.

The project aims to prepare and publish an informed emergency documentation and recommendations for prioritized actions that are necessary to safeguard commercial historic buildings in Cairo.

The current phase of the project will address Bulaq for many reasons. It is a clearly defined and well published area, which makes it an ideal pilot area. More importantly, Bulaq is seriously threatened by aggressive urban development trends that could see to the loss of its architectural heritage. The next phase of the project will develop in two directions. The first is geographical, as following phases will cover the rest of Historic Cairo. Secondly, emergency intervention project according to the prioritized actions recommended by the project.

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