EZBET Project 

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Städtebau Institut – Chair for International Urbanism 
Faculty of Architecture – University of Stuttgart 
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The Street Intervention

INTRODUCTION

“Ezbet Participatory Needs Assessment Seminar” was a course offered at university of Stuttgart during the summer semester 2016. Students from different disciplines and backgrounds were involved in the course and were working with quantitative as well as qualitative research data. The seminar produced a collection of interventions among them was the intervention called “Awareness of Public Space”. This was the baseline and starting point of the Street intervention at Ezbet Abu Qarn. In this chapter we will dive deeper into the topics of the planning, design and implementation phase.

PARTICIPATORY PROCESS WITH THE COMMUNITY

Since, the intervention aims to have a social impact on the lives and attitudes of inhabitants, getting the people of Ezbet to participate in the planning process and physical work is of utmost importance. The target group for this was the entire community ranging from children to women, men to elderly. The aim was to develop a design to fit best their needs, traditions and daily activities.

 

After learning from previous experiences, the Ezbet team decided to keep the involvement of the community consistent throughout the planning, design and implementation process. Incorporating their ideas and comments at all levels possible. Furthermore giving them the choice of deciding the final destination of the intervention.

One of the aims through the process of community participation was to create a sense of belonging to the place, furthermore enabling them to take care, protect and indulge in the maintenance of the project. However; before starting the design process a workshop to understand and to team together with the community to share their knowledge about the needed skills and study the personal and cultural conditions of the place was carried out. Thus following the steps of Arstein’s ladder of participation from: Informing - Consultation - Placation - Partnership - Delegated power - Citizen control.

WHY A STREET INTERVENTION?

Following an axe that connects the area of Ezbet Abu-Qarn with ‘Amr Ibn al-’As mosque. A street upgrading intervention was chosen to take place right in the middle of this axe to be lying in the heart of Ezbet Abu-Qarn. The effect of this intervention on the surrounding area was meant to change the architectural features, the urban environment, restore the historic identity of the place and also affect the attitude of the inhabitants towards their living environment and to increase their sense of ownership, encouraging them to start making the change by themselves. Act as an urban acupuncture willing to change the rest of the place. The street intervention was chosen to be implemented for various reasons: Streets played a vital role in the urban slums.

 

Street was a place where interactions happened Street intervention can be a tool for urban upgrading Street intervention can be a way to get the community to participate The process of the implementation of the street intervention was divided into the planning and implementation phases:

  • Planning process

  • Selection of the location

  • Spatial analysis

  • Design process

Choosing the intervention’s location was the most critical step in the process, keeping in mind that it should be in the middle of Ezbet, in a place that benefits everybody. After checking Ezbet axe of development and the former interventions, five places were chosen and evaluated. The criteria of the selection were:

  • Accessibility to the area

  • Vitality - Community approvals

  • Target groups

  • Area and configuration

  • Surroundings and activities

  • Traffic

  • Vitality

SLECTION OF LOCATION

Resulting from the previous analysis and discussion with the community, the team chose the fifth Location to be the final. The location resided between two shops and a mosque thus having a lot of potential. It was used as a public space by the users of the two shops and the mosque. One of the shops was the biggest coffee-shop in the Ezbet and the other was one changing it’s uses thus bringing a diverse group of customers to the area. Furthermore the mosque had a place for women’s praying area and a nursery in the second floor which attracted more passer-by to the street at all times.

SPATIAL ANALYSIS

The space was a three meter wide street divided longitudinally into two parts. But unfortunately due to the accumulation of materials on the sides of the street, the usable space could only fit a tricycle. The first part was shaded with a concrete slab that belonged to the neighbouring coffee shop having two wooden seats on the left. This was a socializing and resting space for the users of the coffee shop, women and children throughout the day.

 

On the right side of the street there were some wooden doors and mattresses leaning on the neighbouring mosque by the coffee shop owner. Adding to this pile were bags of garbage thrown by the people waiting for the garbage collector to collect them every two or three days. The second part was of the same width. On the left side there was a house with a shop that changed its functions through the day. In the morning the ground floor was used by a woman selling food whereas her husband repaired electronic devices in the afternoon.

 

The pavement outside the shop and beside the door of the house was used as seating place the customers and visitors of the shop. In front of the shop on the right side of the street the man stored a table in the morning but he took inside during his working hours. Right next to the table there was a chicken coop made of wood that belonged to the same shop owner.

DESIGN PROCESS

The main aim of the design was to highlight the urban fabric of the area and keeping the main features of the place. The materials had to be either from the surrounding environment or recycled. After careful observation and discussions with the community the following elements were to be focused on for implementation:

  • Walls

  • Flooring

  • Street furniture

  • Ceiling

  • Chicken coop

  • Flooring

Before 

 

Originally the walls were covered with a thick layer of external lime finishes coloured in light blue, some parts of which were in an extremely bad condition while others had fallen down. Beside the shop there was a clear brick pattern which were in a better shape. However the columns and corners of the mosque window were broken.

 

After 

Aiming to follow the urban fabric of the place, the wall design had some Islamic features with bigger brick patterns working in proportion of Islamic architecture. In addition the existing brick pattern of the wall were to be kept. New colors were to be added for which the selection of natural colors - off-white like bricks and reddish-brown like clay were used. Furthermore designing a strip

WORK PROGRESSION

PLASTERING OF THE WALLS

Before

 

Originally the walls were covered with a thick layer of external lime finishes coloured in light blue, some parts of which were in an extremely bad condition while others had fallen down. Beside the shop there was a clear brick pattern which were in a better shape. However the columns and corners of the mosque window were broken.

 

After

 

Aiming to follow the urban fabric of the place, the wall design had some Islamic features with bigger brick patterns working in proportion of Islamic architecture. In addition the existing brick pattern of the wall were to be kept. New colors were to be added for which the selection of natural colors - off-white like bricks and reddish-brown like clay were used. Furthermore designing a strip above the street furniture with bottle caps and an additional strip of text.

UPGRADING THE STREET FURNITURE

Before

 

The site of the street intervention was one of multi-use due to the presence of the two shops and the mosque. Various informal seating opportunities have developed on the street. The seats for the coffee shop were deteriorating is also used by old people waiting for their transportation in the morning. A pile of garbage is always laid across the sitting places. Additionally beside the house entrance, there is a big rock used as a seat for kids. During big events or gatherings people also bring wooden chairs from the coffee.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After

 

After the flooring and cleansing of the street, improved street furniture were developed. The design aimed to preserve the old seats, and only build new ones at the places where people used to sit on rocks or brick. After designing these seats and showing them to the community, the community requested for more seats with the same theme. So bigger seats were added to the design to keep at the same h e i g h t and width of the old w o o d e n seat. The color of the seats were also chosen with the community. Dark colors were preferred, since light colors tend to get dirty faster.

RECONSTRUCTION OF THE CHICKEN HOUSE

Before

 

In Egyptian slums, raising farm birds is a very common thing. Since most of the residents come from the countryside to build their family house in the city, they tend to raise their animals as they were taught to do in the countryside. Adapting to the city environment, they had only two places to put their chicken coop, either on the roof of the house or somewhere near the entrance. In the latter case more than one family uses the same coop, so as to be easily accessed by all users, without affecting the privacy of the house, the coop was built outside the building. Hence the coop was an important part of the project. It was in bad shape with various parts of the structure falling apart. Therefore a decision to re-built it from scratch was taken together with the community.

 

After

 

It’s situated right in the middle of the street and is owned by more than one family. The coop was made of different types and sizes of reused wood. Collected from different places, any piece that fit was collected and put together forming a box that had a door and a 20 cm frame and a smaller box forming a second floor where more birds could be put up during the day. It was also used as a stand or a table for passerby during the day when the birds were locked inside. The floors of the coop were covered by small carpets or old newspaper to keep the birds warm and to easily be cleaned from their dirt. apart. Therefore a decision to re-built it from scratch was taken together with the community.

RECONSTRUCTING THE FLOORING

Before

The initial state of the flooring was taken into consideration. Not only were the floors not paved, but there was also a problem with the sewage control system, with an exposed manhole at close proximity to the site.

After

 

The following changes were made to the flooring to improve the situation on the flooring. Ground tiles were inserted with a pattern taken from the mosque window pattern. Broken tiles were taken from a school that was being renovated at the same time of the street intervention, laying at close proximity. Local materials that could be easily found like stabilized sand or basalt was also used in this process. Additionally a manhole cover was also inserted for the existing manhole. Furthermore flower boxes in warmer areas were built. In this area residents and users normally threw water on the ground every morning to absorb ground heat. The flower box was designed to absorb the excess water on the ground and reuse it for irrigation. Accordingly the floor was tilted a little bit to its direction and four circular openings were made to collect this water. Community members agreed to plant greenery along with area by themselves.

SUMMARY AND FACT SHEET

PERIOD

 

Planning of project: Jan -2015 Aug 2016 Implementation: Planned: Aug 2016 Actual: Aug-Oct 2016

 

COST OF PROJECT

 

2500 Euros

 

PROJECT METHODOLOGY

 

Requirements: Acknowledgment of Tools: Survey, group discussion, workshops, interview

SPECIFIC OBJECTIVES

Enhancing the built environment: adding greenery, adding built-in corners for garbage collection plastering the floor renovating sanitary & sewage network within the implemented areas; adding soft- & hardscape elements to the open-space; integrating built-in benches within the open space.creating the architectural design for the entrance of the street with the feature of the old gates to the historical district. Reorganising the chicken house that was existing in the street to be part of the architectural designs integrated with the wall facades. introducing the architectural vocabulary within the

INVOLVED ACTORS

 

Community members: 120 Academic, expert, etc: 350 - Academic staff in ASU and SI - Students of ASU and IUSD - Shop owners - Coffee shop owners - Local Mosque keepers - Community residents (children, - Skilled labor (internal & external)

OUTPUTS

 

Seating elements, new shading structure, street furniture, new hardscape on street, Greenery in the street, Benches near shops, Built-in counters on wall

 

OUTCOME 

 

Awareness on qualities on public urban spaces within community

REQUIREMENTS

 

Acknowledgement of community and municipality Tools: Survey, group discussion, workshops, interviews, observation, mapping.

OVERALL OBJECTIVE

 

Enhancing the urban quality and upgrading activating the role of the street as tool for the transformation and development of informal areas. Raising the awareness of the open space