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Bridges Over the Nile

Transportation Corridors Transformed into Public Spaces

Abstract

Cairo is a congested city with high rate of urbanization and very limited public space. Cairo has one of the lowest rates of parkland per capita of any major city. Moreover, the banks of the Nile, formerly alive with activities such as washing, fishing, and felucca landings, were by the end of the twentieth century largely cutoff from free public access by a wall of busy roads, private clubs, luxury hotels, restaurants, nurseries, and police/military stations, roads. The need for open space for people from lower income who could not afford the expensive options along the Nile banks, has resulted in use of the sidewalks of the main bridges as public spaces. Families, couples, and friends tolerate the noise and fumes of traffic to enjoy the expansive views and breezes over the Nile. As a result of this extraordinary re-purposing of the bridges, new small businesses have formed to cater to the uses, and a new interaction with the river has emerged. We studied the patterns of use, characteristics of the user population, and stated preferences of users.  We identify a set of characteristics contributing to the popularity of the bridges as public space, including affordability, accessibility, openness to the river and visual connection with the other bank. We propose that these characteristics be taken into account when developing future projects along the river water front to address the need for public space and access to the Nile.

Published:
Pages:5 to 20
Section: Space
How to Cite
Gohar, A. and Kondolf, G. M. (2020) “Bridges Over the Nile”, The Journal of Public Space, 5(1), pp. 5-20. doi: https://doi.org/10.32891/jps.v5i1.1248.

Author Biographies

University of California Berkeley
United States United States

Dr. Gohar is an urban & landscape and designer, educator and sustainable urbanism expert with nearly two decades of working experience with municipal governments, research institutes, international development agencies, private sector firms and local community organizations. He has worked extensively in public space in congested cities, coastal settlements, dense urban forms, and historic urban centers across the Middle East and Africa. His doctorate research in the Dep. of Landscape Architecture & Environmental Planning at UC Berkeley focused on understanding coastal development and its direct & relative impact on the local residents and the environment. His peer reviewed research focuses on finding the appropriate balance between the trendies of rapid urbanization and ecological integrity of open spaces in cities. He is passionate, experienced and delivered numerous lectures about community engagement in public space. He teaches landscape design studio and urban & environmental studies seminars. In addition, he is founding member of “MIDAN”, a nonprofit dedicated to placemaking and public space rehabilitation. Gohar obtained degrees in urban planning from Cairo, a Master in Urban design from Oxford Brookes, and a diploma in Land Management from Erasmus University.

University of California Berkeley
United States United States

G. Mathias Kondolf is a fluvial geomorphologist, Professor of Environmental Planning, and Co-Director of the Global Metropolitan Studies program at the University of California Berkeley (USA), and serves on the International Scientific Board for the Ecole Universitaire de Recherche des Sciences de l'Eau et des Hydrosystèmes, University of Lyon (France). He teaches hydrology, river restoration, environmental planning, and environmental science. Prof Kondolf researches human-river interactions, including managing flood-prone lands, urban rivers, sediment in rivers and reservoirs, and river restoration, with ongoing research on the social connectivity of urban rivers (city-river relationships over time, recent urban river revitalization); the social life of the sediment balance (river-basin impacts of dams and mining on downstream rivers and deltas, combining geomorphological and environmental history perspectives); and strategic dam planning for improved tradeoffs between hydropower generation and environment. Author of over 100 peer-reviewed papers and three books, his work has received over 15,000 citations on Google Scholar. He advises governments and non-governmental organizations on sustainable management of rivers around the world, providing expert testimony before the US Congress, California legislature, California Water Resources Control Board, US Supreme Court, International Court of Justice and the Permanent Court of Arbitration (the Hague), and in other fora.

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