Mucem, Marseille, France | 8 février 2023
Alexandrie: futurs antérieurs
L’exposition « Alexandrie : futurs antérieurs » revisite l’histoire et le présent de la ville égyptienne, loin des mythes et des stéréotypes qui lui sont traditionnellement associés. Conjuguant deux approches – la recherche archéologique et l’art contemporain –, elle nous invite à considérer Alexandrie sous un angle inédit.
05. JANUARY 2023
Dear friends, colleagues, and partners,
I hope you had a successful year in 2022 in both your professional and personal life and wishing you, your families, and your loved ones a happy and healthy 2023. In the past year, I had the chance to meet, work and interact with many of you which I do appreciate, and would like to thank you for all your support.
Working independently as a consultant/researcher in architecture, art, and culture fields, is continuing to astonish me. It is hard but rewarding. Here I am sharing some of my past year stations which you were part of it:
- Alexandria Today Week with Léon Dubois
with a big team of friends and partners such as Delphine Monrozies and Rémy Marciano. And the good news is that the exhibition is going to be on show this year at the MUCEM in Marseille
Institute for Housing and Urban Development Studies, Erasmus University Rotterdam
- Designing les Bobines Alexandrines 2nde Edition poster with Jean Michel
- Forgotten Entrances exhibition at the French Institute Alexandria with Léon Dubois
of the students of the École nationale supérieure d’architecture de marseille – ENSA-Marseille
- Guest Speaker at Designing Modernity with George Arbid
échanges entre deux territoires métropolitains. A book about the project is to be published this year
for the project “Alexandria: (re)activating common urban imaginaries” School for Sonic Memory and part of the exhibition Alexandrie: futurs antérieurs at MUCEM, Marseille next February
- Representing Alexandria in the Forum des mondes méditerranéens as a Mediterranean Appeal Ambassador
Please check these two very short animations:
Look forward to fruitful interactions, cooperation, and feedback. I wish you a very happy beginning of the year from Marseille.
Photos copyright: the author
04. July 2022
Here is my 4th newsletter in which I allowed myself to share some of my good moments and I hope it will bring some inspiration. Starting by last February:
- I had the pleasure of representing Alexandria in the Forum des mondes méditerranéens as a Mediterranean Appeal Ambassador. The forum took place in Marseille.
- I gave a lecture “Discourse on the Mediterranean Identity and heritage” to artists and participants of The project “Alexandria: (re)activating common urban imaginaries” School for Sonic Memory and Politics of Heritage. The project is supported by the European Union’s Creative Europe programme, the Royal Museum of Mariemont (Morlanwelz), the Palais des Beaux-Arts “BOZAR” (Brussels), the Cittadelarte of the Pistoletto Foundation (Biella, Italy), the Museum of the Civilisations of Europe and the Mediterranean “MUCEM” (Marseille), the Onassis Stegi (Athens), the University of Leiden (the Netherlands), the Kunsthall of Aarhus (Denmark) and the Undo Point Contemporary Art centre (Nicosia, Cyprus).
- In the framework of the students’ exchange project “Alexandria/Marseille”, I participated in the pedagogical process in the two cities. This project is implemented by Ecole nationale supérieure d’architecture de Marseille (ENSA-Marseille), in partnership with the university of Alexandria, l’Institut Français d’Alexandrie, and supported by la région Sud Provence Alpes côte d’azur. In addition, I will be the curator of an exhibition at the French Institute of Alexandria. The exhibition which is planned to start next October will highlight the work and research of the Egyptian and French students in the two cities. The first part of the project took place in Alexandria in February, and in March was the second part in Marseille.
Photos copyright: the author
- It was also a pleasure to be a jury member in the Master’s degree defense of the students of the École nationale supérieure d’architecture de marseille – ENSA-Marseille, in June.
- I received an invitation by George Arbid to be a guest speaker at Designing Modernity- Architecture in the Arab World by the Goethe-Institut Palestinian Territories. Under the section “Protest and Civic engagement” I was talking about rereading the city, offering an alternative narrative of social history and its impact on the built heritage.
- In the framework of Écrire la Méditerranée Festival at the French Institute of Alexandria. The exhibition Forgotten Entrances was inaugurated on the 19th of May 2022. This is a collective exhibition of my drawings/research and the photographs of Léon Dubois. Highlighting observations on Alexandria, and trying to describe the Image of Alexandria in the present time.
Photos copyright: French Institute Alexandria
- The exhibition was followed by an intensive lecture to the Egyptian students of the French school in Alexandria, on what is the city, how it works, how we live together and what is architecture, and the urban and social fabrics of Alexandria.
- The research and artwork of the exhibition will be included in a book project I am currently working on. Under the title “Third Places from Alexandria: stories from the city’s invisible present “, my work is offering an alternative viewpoint to reread the city’s built heritage, reconstruct Alexandria’s modern social history and understand how the different groups of people are sharing the same places and interact with each other. In my artistic research approach, I study spaces of social gathering and interaction between the community and how they impact back the city of today. Through on-site hand drawings and descriptive observations.
- I have been admitted to the 2022 Urban Heritage and Strategies (UHS) Diploma, the course is developed by (IHS) the Institute for Housing and Urban Development Studies (part of Erasmus University Rotterdam) in close cooperation with the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands (REC) and the Department of Architectural Engineering of Delft University of Technology (TUD). The course is tailored to four port cities: Casablanca (Morocco), Alexandria (Egypt), Istanbul (Turkey), and Amsterdam (Netherlands). The graduation will be in Rotterdam next August.
- Under the direction of Sharqia Development Authority, Historic City Centers Preservation Project in Saudi Arabia, I was entrusted by Omran Architects / Prof. Moustafa Gabr to build and prepare rehabilitation and sustainable adaptive reuse study for Al Hofuf downtown of Al-Ahsa Governorate. Taking into consideration the historical, cultural heritage, social and economical aspects the project aimed at revitalizing the historic downtown.
Photos copyright: the author
- The work is still ongoing on book volume with Alex Med Bibliotheca Alexandrina ” Alexandria ornaments Encyclopedia: The Italian Architecture ” that aims at documenting the ornaments of heritage buildings in the city.
Photos copyright: the author
03. January 2022
Since we are expecting a new year to come, I wanted to reach out and wish you a happy new beginning as well as to thank everyone I had the chance to meet or get to know professionally and/or personally. In the past year, we may all have passed by hard times as well as good ones. I am allowing myself to share with you a few good moments from my past year where many of you were behind making it happen.
Academic & research
- Ongoing work on book volume with Alex Med Bibliotheca Alexandrina: Alexandria ornaments Encyclopedia. Here
- Participating in the Unspoken memories, unwritten histories “The place of cultural pluralism in Alexandria” along with Amro Ali and Will Hanley and organized by the Swedish Research Institute in Istanbul (SRII), operates at a cross-section of academic research and civil society activism. Here
- The first lecture at ensam Marseille in the frame work of the project « Alexandrie Forever: Échanges entre deux territoires métropolitains » Impliquant Ecole nationale supérieure d’architecture de Marseille (ENSA-Marseille), l’Université d’Alexandrie et l’Institut Français d’Alexandrie, dans le cadre d’une subvention de la région Sud Provence Alpes côte d’azur. Here
- Designing the concept and co-moderating the “ULC, Urban Lab Camp Alexandria, 2021” organized by Friedrich Ebert Stiftung FES Egypt. Here
Art & Architecture
- Participating in the Journey exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts in Alexandria, organized by Welad El Balad LTD. Here
- Designing the festival poster of “Cinéma francophone Les Bobines Alexandrines” organized by Behna El Wekalah, under the sponsorship of the Institut du monde arabe, with the support of the Institut français d’Egypte à Alexandrie. Here
- Starting the series of CITIES MINIATURES, visual observations on cities, presenting the art, architecture, and culture which shape our societies. Here: Alexandria, Marseille
- Participating and arrived at the 18th position among 123 participants around the world in “The UNESCO Architectural international competition for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the Al Nouri Complex in Mosul, Iraq. Here
- On going participation in the project “SALAM: Imagining and building the Mediterranean of tomorrow – programme soutient le dialogue entre les jeunes acteurs de la société civile des deux rives” by Expertise France financed by Ministère de l’Europe et des Affaires étrangères. Here
- Participating in “All Around culture and L’Art Rue – Interconnected in Culture for a Stronger Ecosystem Grant”. Here
- Cairo Photo Week 2021, Lecture panel “Reading cities through the Image”. Here
02. July 2021
This is the second newsletter that I would love to share with you after being thankful for all your thoughts on my previous one which helped me a lot. 2020 was not a smooth year but it was a big challenge that made me realize nothing is granted, nothing lasts, neither the good nor the bad. Thanks to that year, I was able to think, do new things and get rid of things I don’t want or need. Thanks to this year I got closer to people, especially those whom I love. This year made me appreciate all the blessings in my life. With the help of my family, friends, and God I managed to do good things. I wish you a new beginning and a happy year.
Below are links to some of the past year’s events:
- A book article: Atlas de l’Égypte contemporaine (CEDEJ, CNRS Édition)
- Very successful exhibition at SHELTER Art Space
- Co-leading a workshop: sustainable urban development by Friedrich Ebert Stiftung & Ministry of Environment
- Participating in the conference: Casbah d’Alger, Patrimoine Mondial de l’Humanité 28 ans après son inscription sur la liste de l’UNESCO
- Designing and building a handmade modular bedroom
01. November 2020
We are all passing through a hard time, that is impacting us, our behavior, and accordingly our cities. A time of big changes for many of us, on both personal and professional levels. I would not have expected to experience such a year. With all it’s good and bad, I consider it one of the most important events in my life. Till February 2020, I was still practicing architecture as a full-time senior designer architect in the same firm I joined 7 years ago. My latest task there was to design and lead a project in Djibouti. And naturally, I had to go and inspect the site and nature of my new project.
Trip to Djibouti
After Tunisia, it was my first time visiting an African land outside Egypt. Traveling to the capital Djibouti on board Ethiopian Airlines, I had to make two hours of transit through Addis Ababa Bole International Airport. Which is considered the hub of Africa. Flying over the harsh contrast of the green and yellow landscape of Ethiopia and landing in the 70s-style airport of Djibouti, reminded me of the 2006 movie “The Last King of Scotland” based on Giles Foden’s 1998 novel. The movie depicts Uganda in the 1970s and the country’s cruelest leader Idi Amin. These were just my feelings from the visuals around me because I was about to discover one of the most peaceful places I have ever visited.
By the beginning of March when the Egyptian authorities announced the first cases of covid-19 in Aswan, I was already there. I received an invitation from professor dr. Abdel-Aziz Farouk,the head of the Architecture department at the Arab Academy for Science and Technology in Aswan to instruct and lead an intensive workshop for young students and future architects. The aim of this course was to explore how to freehand drawing can increase the level of understanding of the complexities of architecture.
Freedom of the lockdown
When I came back from Aswan to Alexandria in March, I was very sick and it was a Corona infection. For me, this was the beginning of a big change. I had to stay home for a month. When I started to recover, the country had already applied a partial lockdown. This was the time when I felt what it means to own your time. Time is our real wealth. Doing many things I neither had the time nor the energy to do, have made it clear to me, that there was no going back to the same pattern of life. This period was and still is very hard but it revived creativity. It made me think and reflect a lot. The daily news was mainly talking about the pandemic situation all over the world, describing and analyzing the impact on our physical and mental health. Then they started about the post-impact on the economy, politics, sociology, society, and city. The pandemic has already changed the way we interact with each other and with the city. Driven by all mentioned factors, I launched the project Memories of Alexandria before the Pandemic. My aim was to collect and document voices from the city ignorer to visualize how the city used to be before the change.
At the Shelter
On the 23rd of this month SHELTER Art Space and the French Institute of Egypt launched the exhibition “Destinations” to explore the richness, diversity, and beauty of Alexandria through the artworks of artist Benoit Guillaume and myself. The exhibition features both visual art and architectural elements to explore a live walk to different destinations within the city layers of Alexandria. Each of us is interpreting his own personal vision of the city’s vibrant buildings and streets. Yet each is different in its approach and interrelated in its interpretation of the city’s reflection on our daily social life and encounters. The exhibition is still ongoing if you are in Alexandria.