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Investigating Users Changing Needs in Relation to Non-designed or Unplanned Public Spaces in Cairo


In recent studies, public spaces are defined as living organisms that are subjected to continuous change. These changes affect the different uses of the urban space, its composition and design aspects, in order to cope with the users’ changing needs. Rather than that, users intervene in the space formation either formally, by including the community and stakeholders in the design process fully or partially; or informally, by small or big actions done by the space users in order for the space to satisfy their current needs. Several spaces in Cairo are dealt with as leftovers of the buildings design and construction process. These spaces have passed through several changes that affected and was affected by the Cairines (Cairo citizens) and their culture of dealing with public spaces to accommodate their changing needs. The deficiency in public spaces in Cairo urban spaces is reviewed. And the inability of the formal designed/planned spaces to respond to the spaces’ users with their changing needs is investigated throughout the research. In order to focus on a public space in Nasr city district in Cairo, sequential mapping to the area over different ages is carried on, examining the changes -formally and informally- in the space to cope with area users. That is accompanied by surveys and questionnaires that aim to determine the needs of the users in the space and whether they are met or not. The questionnaire also aims to measure the level of intervention and satisfaction of the users in this space, to explain how its users intervene in adapting to the existing formal design, and to find out how these interventions shape and affect directly and indirectly the dynamism of the space as a formal planned public space.
The paper aims to review and find out theories and practices that provide solutions for dealing with non-designed open spaces development in terms of users changing needs and contributions. The results from the study show some development considerations that need to be respected in Cairo public spaces with more concern for people’s usage and interaction with the space.

Pages:47 to 66
Section: Space
How to Cite
Namar, J., Salheen, M. and Ismail, A. (2021) “Investigating Users Changing Needs in Relation to Non-designed or Unplanned Public Spaces in Cairo”, The Journal of Public Space, 6(1), pp. 47-66. doi:

Author Biographies

University of Ain Shams
Egypt Egypt

Joseph M. Namar is a Teaching Assistant at Urban Design and Landscape departments in the Faculty of Engineering of Ain Shams University. He has 3+ years of experience in Landscape architecture and urban design. He has been involved in urban design and landscape masters program with a focus on leftover and non designed open space and their ability to interact and accomodate users' changing needs. He is always seeking to learn and research more about urban studies with the involvement into several workshops as “Urban Mobility Mapping at the Red Sea: Case Study of Hurghada” and "Shifting Climate, Reshaping Urban Landscape in Belgium". He has been also involved in some professional design projects on urban, landscape and architecture scales.

Ain Shams University / IUSD
Egypt Egypt

Mohamed Salheen is Full Professor of Integrated Planning and Design. He obtained his BSc in 1993 from Ain Shams University and his PhD in 2001 from Edinburgh College of Art. UK. In 2010, he founded the International Double Master’s program "Integrated Urbanism and Sustainable Design” (IUSD). Since 2011, Salheen has been a member in the EU committee “Higher Education Reform Experts”. He is also the General Secretary of the Engineering Sector Committee at the Supreme Council of Universities. Salheen is also active in practice with various assignments with GIZ, UN-Habitat, UNEP and UNDP as well as private, national and regional organizations. Within his firm “IDG”, that he founded in 1993, he developed a focus on Design of Education Facilities as well as Residential ad housing projects.

Ain Shams University
Egypt Egypt

Ayat Ismail is Assisstant Professor of urban planning and design at Ain Shams University in Egypt.


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