A Design Proposal for Egypt’s Science City
Egypt amalgamates the contradiction of life … and drought.
Its vast deserts are considered one of largest, whilst being perceived as an oasis; it is the desert, but it does not belong to such wastelands. Egypt’s character shines in the striking contrast between its valley and desert wilderness: life and death, parallels, side by side, all the way.
The proposal for a Science City therefore embodies such contrasting parallels. A canopy in the form of a perfect circle represents unbounded scientific discovery, and continuous search for truth, where the pursuit of knowledge provides refuge in the desert. A “Science Park” valley infiltrates this pristine form, and is designed as a green core. A metaphorical cosmic representation of the river Nile that pours both science and life to such an immense desert environment.
The Nile valley has provided to this land for thousands of years, and this Science City aspires to provide for thousands more.
Planning / Urban Design
i. Response to Context In-depth context analysis shaped the team’s approach to project scale and shaping iconographic representation. The project responds to the context through form and function as well as sociocultural relationships on three scales:
Greater Cairo expands on its East-West axis, and the location for the SC on a macro-scale is both Central to 6th of October and peripheral to Greater Cairo. Parallels can be drawn to qualities exiting on site from both a physical and metaphorical perspective.
6th of October city although mostly residential, represents a diversity in land-use through industrial, commercial and educational activities. This makes the specific setting of the proposed SC an opportunity for a built environment argument through a node that mediates such diversity, and defines further expansion to the project site’s south: a beacon for knowledge discovery, and creation.
Direct context is mainly residential, but vast deserts mostly define adjacencies. The sites’ accessibility and visibility through topography identify the need for a grand-statement that would act as a heart for a vibrant development centered around the noble pursuit of science.
ii. Scale / Impact of Project
Architectural expression is most vividly articulated in the proposal of an iconic canopy as a holistic configuration for the SC. The canopy as both form and function is designed to be one of the largest, if not the largest, canopy structures globally.
iii. Grid / Form Generation
1 Form is dominated by the canopy. Its form is a perfect circle as a pure and iconic expression of science; conceptually central to the advancement and development of the human race, and magnanimously encompassing various sciences under one unifying entity. 2 The circle although perfect in geometry, it is ever growing through a stream of consciousness that fills it
in the north-south axis, paralleling the Nile valley geometrically, and creating a “Science” valley of its own. The valley cultivates knowledge, instead of water. Water was the single primary resource to sustain life in ancient Egyptian civilizations, and still remains. Science becomes a paralleling primary resource metaphorically through the proposed Science Valley.
This streak creates two secondary grids: 3 to the left side of the valley, taking an east-west axis orientation as expansion to Greater Cairo. 4 to the right side of the valley is a 12° rotated grid facing the Giza pyramids as the duality of a symbol of civilization and desert representation. A tower viewing platform is created on that grid for visitors to experience a view on the
iv. Civic Space
This is a socio-spatial element that is typically missing from Egyptian cities. A public space beyond just greenery; where people have a sense of ownership and the setting becomes a
stage for celebrations, cultural exchange and social interactions. A pleasant space for all the senses. In this SC proposal, it is divided into three spaces:
1. City Plaza: Open round the clock with direct western pedestrian and cyclist access.
2. Science Valley: Interactive exploratory space w/ experiences of discovery & excitement.
3. Celebration Plaza: Seated area for large events w/ integrated landscape & theatre.
v. A Journey
(narrative for a visitor’s experience – a sequence of visual perception scenarios) Friends walk in the sun to a place that should feel like school, but it feels more like home. An
enormous breathtaking experience shading the desert, and provide the opportunity to not just discover knowledge, but also a chance to create it. As they approach, they notice cyclists are locking their bikes to racks, and speeding up to be in the shade of spacious valley full of interactive landscaping experiences. They recognize the opportunity of spending hours walking around in what appears to be an outdoor space, but is comfortably shaded. Exhibitions that change from time to time allow the experience to be new with every visit, and areas of collaborative research allow them do world-class research by access knowledge as it unfolds. Gardens that provide seats and set the stage for celebrations, performances and opportunities to just sit, rest, think and ponder the universe. There’s a sense of renewed wonder and exploration through a valley that leads to various programs but culminates in a platform and tower experience that overlooks a bright prospect; as they look below they can see where they came from, the pyramids, and where they are headed, the future.
vi. Landscape and Climatic Considerations
The use of Building Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV) in the detached canopy is proposed. The number of PV cells required depends the demand of the building. The annual solar radiation simulation below and the provided calculations illustrate such potential with the assumption of 20% efficiency PV cells. 20,000 m2 * 2200 kWh/m2/yr * 0.2 = 88,000,000 kWh/yr
Beside the PV potential, the proposed roof is designed to provide comfort using four
- Detach the thermal loads from the building, and act as a bioclimatic buffer.
- Provide a shaded outdoor space that is useable and further cools the building through breeze due
to difference in pressure.
- Protect from direct solar penetration and prevent glare during the Summer.
- Allow the sun to enter spaces during the Winter for passive solar heating.
a. Canopy Form
i. Geometry: a circle was designed to fit the entire site, with adjacent streets as tangents.
iii. Drop-off: the line joining the two tangent points form the primary approach as drop-off.
iv. Structure: disconnecting the canopy from main program to minimize thermal loads.
v. Energy Production: PV potential to fit the entire canopy and offset operational energy.
b. Purity of Form
The project maintains the pure form of a circle because the design accepts nature as a complex entity, while man-made structures are simple, logical and pure. The mediating dialogue between those two extremes becomes the landscape, which negotiates the rigid and the organic through the bisecting valley.
c. Building Grid Logic
- Exhibitions: Designed to accommodate transparency, functionality and flexibility.
- Research Center: Developed to spark inspiration and induce discovery.
- Grid Affecting Parking: Grid logic designed to accommodate parking at lower levels.
The entrance of a “skywalk” is located on the south-western corner of the SC. It is an experience fitting for a short visit that explores interactive exhibitions with a stop at the kids zone for children to exit. Visitors can choose to continue crossing over the science valley and enter the research area which interfaces the public with the employees. While the skywalk experiences have just ended, the Tower becomes significantly closer.
6th of October, Egypt
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