The Shifting Urban Role of Buildings’ Facades: A Diachronic Analysis of El Korba
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The Shifting Urban Role of Buildings’ Facades: A Diachronic Analysis of El Korba

Authors: Virginia Bassily, Sherif Goubran


In heritage conservation and revival, much of the focus is placed on the techniques and methods to preserve, restore, and revive heritage structures and locations. However, more attention needs to be drawn to how deterioration happens and its effect on the area’s character and socio-economic status. To this end, this research aims to examine the decline and its effect in the El Korba area in Heliopolis, Cairo, Egypt. El Korba was designed with a unique architectural character to stimulate social and economic life. However, the area has been on a path of physical deterioration that is corroding the social life on its streets. This research uses diachronic analysis in Ibrahim El-Lakkani Boulevard of El Korba based on a previously developed framework that connects buildings’ architectural features to the degree of social interaction in the street to document the changes that the building deterioration could have caused. Architectural features of the street level during both the original state (1906) and the current state (2021) are broken down and categorized in those six parameters to understand their decline or improvement over time. We find that the parameters that have decreased over the years and caused the deterioration are complexity and architectural character, permeability, territoriality and personalization, and physical comfort.  Based on these findings, revival projects can focus on physical parameters that create synergistic benefits by preserving and renewing heritage locations and revitalizing their socio-economic potential.

Keywords: Architectural character, heritage building conservation, enclosure, ground-floor use, El Korba, visual and physical permeability, personalization, physical comfort, social life, territoriality.

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