Reclaiming Public Spaces
The modes of production of urban spaces today have shifted from being initiated by institutional and formal production entities and has been transferred into the hands of the community. This change is widely represented in pocket urban spaces that have developed in inner cities and under bridges, overpasses, and highways. The utilization of these spaces unites the community and allows its inhabitants to reclaim public space. Can the production of active urban space be driven by a community utilization of lost pockets in the city? Can the design of a fully-utilized group of functional spaces emerge from the need of a community to define its identity through an informal process of building?
'Sakiat El-Sawy', a community-driven cultural center, grew to become a cultural node for a mixed urban class in Cairo, Egypt. This project provides a unique experience, one that formal architectural production systems would not have produced. It demonstrates an outcome of a process that reflects commonality between community users, yet a unique expression of local identity and cultural expression. The following discussions aim to investigate 'Sakiat ElSawy' as it evolved as a public node of activity. The objective is to identify specific attributes that would allow community designers to formulate design guidelines for community activity space generation.