El Bawab, البواب

I used to pass by this abandoned building in Rouchdy, Abou Quer avenue every day on the way to my office. The building had around 6 meters setback from the property edge or the wrought iron fence, and less setbacks from the two sides of the neighbors. It was simple and has no ornaments. But it had strong masses and very expressing geometry. I believe it came in a transitional period between rejecting the old schools of classical architecture, and adopting the new principles of modernity.

The building’s only living occupants were the doorman’s family and their dog. The dog was the only one who used to look at me with his welcoming sad eyes. On official documents, the doorman (Bawab in Arabic) would later become the owner of the new replacement construction, it’s the way things are done here, as it prevents a legal challenge from the real owner.

Every day I asked myself when it would be torn down, until it finally happened in the first half of 2019. However that building was not really pleasant. It was always dark and scary especially by night. But it was still in harmony with its surroundings. It was not high, respected the building regulations and the human scale. And it had big evergreen trees.

We need to ask ourselves: will we be able to build something that would have the same qualities of the old structure? Will it have the identity of our time or it would be a fake copy of the past? Will it add new values to the city and to the surroundings?

Demolition is not the end of the story…