Temporary Appropriation Practices and Spontaneity in Public Spaces: The Case of Downtown Cairo Passageways

Conference: The Barcelona Conference on Arts, Media & Culture (BAMC2022)
Title: Temporary Appropriation Practices and Spontaneity in Public Spaces: The Case of Downtown Cairo Passageways
Stream: Architecture and Urban Studies/Design
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation
Eman Shamekh, Arab Academy for Science, Technology and Maritime Transport (AASTMT), Egypt
Shaimaa Ashour, Arab Academy For Science, Technology and Maritime Transport (AASTMT), Egypt


In contrast to the orthodox comprehensive planning approaches, several contemporary studies on public spaces have focused on the notion of how people utilize space and how they appropriate and inhabit the city. Since the 1960s, many theorists have embraced this idea and developed unconventional concepts such as spontaneous public spaces. Hence, this paper aims to investigate the forms of temporary appropriation to shed light on the role of spontaneity in Downtown Cairo passageways. While several researchers studied Downtown passageways in terms of physical aspects, there is a lack of literature that tackles everyday spatial appropriation. Therefore, Al-Alfi and Al-Shereefen passageways were chosen for the investigation. Those passageways serve as a useful case study for examining the differences between the anticipated planned use of the space and the emergent practices that evoke spatial and socioeconomic disorder that add an unpredictable layer to urban life. The researchers have conducted multiple walk-by observations and behavioral mapping both during day and at night. The findings revealed two basic forms of temporal appropriation: economic and recreational. As a result, the research brought attention to how these temporal activities may represent the embrace of both individual and group spontaneity in passageways. Finally, in order to contribute to the development of an alternative discussion for future urban development projects that take into account the human-centered viewpoint, this paper attempted to reduce the gap between governmental strategic planning practices and the everyday use of Downtown passageways.

Virtual Presentation

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