Aga Khan Trust for Culture - Cairo: Urban Regeneration in the Darb Al-Ahmar District
The new Al-Azhar park on the edge of historic Cairo, completed by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) in 2004, has created welcome opportunities for parallel rehabilitation efforts in Darb al-Ahmar, the impoverished and densely built-up district that borders the Park. Darb al-Ahmar lies south of the prestigious al-Azhar Mosque and the popular Khan al-Khalili, Cairo’s principal tourist bazaar, and is bound by al-Azhar Street to the north, the Ayyubid Wall to the east, and Darb al-Ahmar Street to the west. In spite of its central location, pedestrian scale, historic buildings and active community of artisans, the development of the area has lagged behind other parts of Cairo and living conditions have actually worsened over the past few decades. This is due to the lack of maintenance of infrastructure, coupled with low family incomes and the severe deterioration of monuments and private housing. The latter has been aggravated by outdated planning constraints, widespread insecurity of tenure and unrealistic rent controls. In spite of these serious shortcomings, Darb al-Ahmar remains socially far more cohesive and architecturally more genuine than other parts of Cairo, such as Gamalyia, which have been irreversibly altered by tourism and pervasive commercial redevelopment.