Virtual Collaboration: Designing for Egypt

We have begun designing for Egypt sites Mahira has chosen for us, as we have still heard nothing from John, or Egypt. In the initial description of this module, it specified we would be doing a project with a university in Egypt, though we have now contacted John and it appears this won’t be happening. After seeking advice from the architecture department, they advised we email John and tell him we are getting on with the project and choosing our own sites to continue with. He responded saying this was fine, and so we got on with the project. Mahira spoke to us at length about life and culture in Cairo, showing us pictures and videos of the sites, both of which she has visited. This gave us a similar experience to we were expecting to receive from the Egyptian students. As Mahira is not actually be marked on field as she returns home before the end of the project, Connor and I decided to take on the designing portion of this project, Mahira acting as our client. Mahira chose a walking speed site in a touristy souk-type area, and a fast paced site over a busy motorway.

Mahira spoke to us about the Egyptian opinion on tourists. She believes Egypt welcomes tourists, as they contribute so highly to the economy which is currently suffering so badly. She thought it would be great to have some sort of tourist attraction which would draw tourists to an area. Mahira spoke about some cultural aspects of her life in Egypt too. We discussed the treatment of public art and graffiti and how it differs in Wales compared to Egypt. Mahira told us that graffiti in Egypt is not treated as a crime, and there is a sense of wanting to leave your mark on a place within the culture that Mahira has grown up in. Connor and I designed an installation for the walking speed site which tourists and natives a like can contribute to in order to ‘leave their mark’. One or a couple of people could manage the installation and there could be a small fee to contribute, in order to give back. Using chalk or an equally non-permenant substance, people could contribute their name, a hand print or drawing to the wall, which will then disappear and reveal a fresh canvas in the rare occasion of rainfall. We did not want to create something which would be permanent, as this would fill up and look messy quickly, as well as vandalising an old and beautiful area of Cairo. This way, people can feel they have left a memory or piece of themselves at the site, though it will only be there for an amount of time before it is taken with the rain.

For our fast paced site, we chose to bring the beach to the inner city. Mahira loves the beach, and spoke about how little she gets to visit as she lives in busy, urban and inland Cairo. Though she could be much further from the coast, she said she hardly ever has the time or travel opportunities to go to the beach. We decided to design a 3D textured billboard which, as you drive past it, looks like a wave rolling up the beach. It would be vibrant blues, greens and purples to bring colour to the concrete motorway. Mahira helped us to create a 3D design for this using the software she is used to, being an architecture student.

As a group, we feel ready for the formative assessment presentation. It has been a shame to have had the project go the way it has, though I feel we have dealt with it extremely well and have got the project done with little support.

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