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Youth Creativity Centre in Cairo

Matariya, Egypt

With our new construction we will facilitate more space for education, creativity and the exchange of views and ideas. Together with young local people we build new rooms made of wood, garid and clay, protecting from the hot sun and providing a pleas

I. Rayan from Mayadin al-Tahrir
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Mayadin built the foundation of developing education programs in Matariya, a district of Cairo, when it opened its small but vibrant public library in January 2013. This library is specifically aimed to offer education, not only to the younger educated middle class but also to people with socially weaker backgrounds, without access to education. It serves as a safe place for exploring ones own creativity as well as exchanging knowledge and thoughts.
In order to accommodate more children, Mayadin rented a rooftop across the street. We have been entrusted with the planning for the construction of new rooms. On the rooftop of an old 4-story building the following is going to be built: a seminar room, an office, a shaded terrace, sanitary and kitchen area. These rooms will offer plenty of space for creativity, artistic expression, exchange of knowledge and alphabetisation. We will also have a supervised day care for children and youth, which will include a soup kitchen. This project is understood as a learning project for us all together. We as architecture students learn about the egyptian construction methods and culture, whereas the local volunteers, learn how unattended space can be converted into useful space. Therefore we chose to mainly use local, ecologically sustainable and recycled materials for the reconstruction of the rooftop.

We (a team of architecture students from Germany and Switzerland, an egyptian student and many young volunteers from Mayadin) are currently on site in Cairo, to realize the construction plans developed in May 2013.
When part of the team arrived in Cairo in the middle of July, the deconstruction of the old concrete floor was in process. An engineer from Cairo evaluated beforehand that the old concrete floor was already too heavy. The building would not be able to carry the weight of it plus our new construction. Though the demolition was very costly and time-consuming.

For all the closed rooms, we decided on a system of Quincha-Modules. These are wooden frames which are interweaved with palm tree leaves and filled with a mixture of mud, sand and straw. Small ventilation openings in direction of the air stream in combination with the bigger windows facing east are generate a ventilation system. In combination with the mud we will ensure a comfortable learning atmosphere.
Furthermore all the closed rooms will be covered by an overhanging roof construction. It is necessary to protect our to a minimum of mass reduced walls from direct sunlight to keep the rooms cool. Likewise the terrace area will be covered and with the fresh air it will be possible to meet on the roof during the day even in the hot summer months.

Especially in this politically challenging time it is highly important to offer young people safe shelter with familiar atmosphere to encourage the exchange of ideas and thoughts.
We thank you for your support!