The origins of Al-Azhar Park project date to 1984, when the Aga Khan Award for Architecture organised a conference on the subject of The Expanding Metropolis: Coping with the Urban Growth of Cairo. At that time, the city was confronted by the array of contemporary development challenges faced by many cities, not least population pressures, a decline in the quality of housing and the attendant problems these conditions create. Despite these challenges, the question of how to reconcile conservation and development was a fairly new one. It was clear that Cairo needed more green space. One study found that the amount of green space per inhabitant was roughly equivalent to the size of a footprint. It is one of the lowest proportions in the world. It was on the occasion of the conference that His Highness the Aga Khan announced his decision to finance the creation of a park for the citizens of the Egyptian capital. The only central location which was of suitable scale and which lent itself to rehabilitation was the derelict Darassa site, a 30-hectare (74 acre), 500-year-old mound of rubble in the inner city, between the eastern edge of the 12th Century Ayyubid city and the 15th Century Mamluk “City of the Dead”.