Cairobserver will begin working simultaneously on two new publications. One will have a focus on universities and the other will focus on downtowns. Both Cairobserver issues will expand the scope of the themes beyond Cairo to include stories from across Egypt. This is an open call to invite students, writers, residents, architects, historians, archivists, photographers, and anyone else who is interested to participate in the making of these two publications. The final outcome will be two separate 50 page tabloid-sized publications.
The university issue of Cairobserver will consider the university from a variety of perspectives: as a physical site within the city, as a space for the production of ideas and imaginaries about the built environment, and as a space of struggle where youth and authorities are in a constant tug of war. Participants are invited to interpret the theme beyond the suggested questions below and to explore the other countless possibilities:
Mapping: How does the university, as a physical space, fit within its urban setting?
Production: Is the university still a laboratory for knowledge production, particularly pertaining to Egypt’s urban condition with its history, politics and physical reality?
Knowledge: Students and teachers, particularly in architecture, urban planning, and political science departments, are invited to reflect on university curricula and their relationship to Egypt’s urban realities. What is the relationship between university faculty and the state, on one hand, and between university faculty and their students, on the other hand, in regards to Egypt’s urban problems and possible solutions?
Campus: University campuses are mini-cities onto themselves. Contributors are invited to explore the design of university campuses, how people move around them, campus architecture, gendered uses of space, and the politics of space within the campus limits and the spaces immediately outside campus walls.
Cairobserver also encourages students working in architecture, urbanism, public policy and related fields to publish summaries of their work and thesis projects in this issue.
The downtowns issue of Cairobserver will revisit city centers in Cairo, Alexandria, Mansoura, Port Said, Luxor and other cities to examine their present conditions and challenges. What makes a city center? Do our cities need a single center, a downtown, or multiple centers or downtowns and why? Do new desert cities need downtowns or is this an urban artifact from the past that is no longer relevant in new cities? Can we think of an urban future for Egyptian cities without including a comprehensive evaluation the downtowns of these cities, their economies, architectural and urban histories, current challenges in addition to identifying key stakeholders? Can our cities survive without vibrant inclusive downtowns? What do we make of the destruction of Cinema Rialto in downtown Alexandria and the reopening of Cinema Radio in downtown Cairo, the erection of new statues and monuments in downtown Alexandria and downtown Cairo that ignited public uproar? What about the persistent question regarding who owns the streets and sidewalks in downtowns?
Possible themes for contributions in this issue include: Public space, protest, street vendors, architectural vandalism, municipal corruption, romanticism and nostalgia, architectural preservation and real estate. Participants in this issue are invited to reflect on these questions and to bring their own interventions, experiments, investigations and visions. In addition to downtown Cairo and Alexandria, Cairobserver is particularly interested in contributions from cities in the Delta, Upper Egypt and Suez Canal cities.
How to participate
Contributions to these two Cairobserver issues should be in the range of 500-800 words with relevant photographs taken by the author. Visual and photographic contributions are also welcomed. Contributions can be in Arabic or English with a preference for Arabic. If you are interested in participating in these publications please send your questions and contributions to Cairobserver [at] gmail [dot] com
Authors must include a two-sentence biography with their submission. Please write in the subject of the email the name of the issue you are interested in: #university or #downtowns
Please send a short email with your idea regarding a contribution by September 1. The deadline for all final contributions is October 15, 2014. No late submissions will be accepted.
Cairobserver print issues are an independent publishing effort with content sourced from young architects and scholars. All work is voluntary and the expenses are limited to publication design and printing. If you are interested in financially supporting this effort with a grant, donation or to advertise in the publications, contact Cairobserver [at] gmail [dot] com