Understanding Everyday Homes of Urban Communities: The Case of Local Streets (Hawari) of Old Cairo

M. Gamal Abdelmonem

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    This paper aims at investigating architectural and urban heritage from the socio-cultural point of view, which stands on the human asset of traditional sites such as the hawari of old Cairo. It analyzes the social practice of everyday life in one of the oldest Cairene hawari, Haret al-Darb al-Asfar. The focus is on architectural and spatial organization of outdoor and indoor spaces that coordinate the spatial practices of local community. A daily monitoring of people’s activities and interviews was conducted in an investigation of how local people perceive their built environment between the house’s interior and the outdoor shared space. It emerges that people construct their own field of private spheres according to complex patterns of daily activities that are not in line with the classical segregation between private and public in Islamic cities. This paper reports that the harah is basically a construct of social spheres that are organized spatially by the flexible development of individual buildings over time and in response to changes in individuals’ needs and capabilities. In order to achieve sustainability in old urban quarters, the paper concludes, the focus should be directed towards the local organization of activities and a comprehensive upgrading of deteriorating buildings to match the changing needs of current population.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)996-1010
    Number of pages15
    JournalJournal of Civil Engineering and Architecture
    Issue number11
    Publication statusPublished - Nov 2011

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