Some of Cairo's most iconic buildings from yesteryear are set to receive a revamp.
Egypt's Minister of Public Enterprise, Hesham Tawfik, has announced plans to privately lease 150 heritage buildings in Central Cairo, some dating back more than 120 Years, with a view to having them restored. Private companies that win the bids will then be allowed to rent them out.
The scheme is set to save a wide array of historical buildings that were built in neoclassical, art-deco and early modernist styles, many of which were nationalised back in the 60s and, in turn, have suffered after they were subjected to rent controlled systems that put the landlords at the short end of the stick.
Until this very day, the landlords are unable to raise controlled rent that was set back in the 60s. As a result, tenants are paying pennies for otherwise extremely valuable real estate.
While schemes like the Kheidival Cairo Project mainly focus on renovating the exterior, this new scheme aims to have the buildings revamped inside and out. According to Ayman Ashour, Dean of Ain Shams University's Engineering Faculty, the newly refurbished buildings can then be rented out as company headquarters, art galleries, banks and hotels or used as cultural centers, museums and music venues.
The rollout will be steady, with only five buildings leased at a time, which would give time for the government to examine the process as it unfolds. According to Suheir Hawas, a professor of Architecture and Urban Design at Cairo University, there are five criteria that need to ticked for a building to be classified as a heritage building; it must have a distinct and unique architectural style of construction; be the design of a famous architect; constitute a specific era or time in history; include tangible reminders of historical events; or be considered a tourist attraction.
After a building is classified as a heritage building, it's forever protected from being demolished, but it can be restored under the supervision of the National Organization for Urban Harmony.
Photo courtesy of Muhamed Sabry Fareed)