Desert city for 40.000 inhabitants:
Densifying Sixth of October through informal mechanism

Two national problems could be tackled with one project. Since the 1960s, two urban phenomena of great magnitude coexist in Greater Cairo: while large surfaces of agricultural land are being absorbed by the expansion of informal settlements, and in the desert, even evenr -larger areas of the desert are being developed by the New Towns Program. While informal Cairo follows rigorous patterns of densification housing 65% of the city population, formal desert cities are the outcome of a speculative urbanization process, presenting 70% vacancy.

While informal areas houses 65% of the city population following an unplanned radical pattern of densification, the official formal desert cities presents 70% of vacancy-rate, becoming the outcome of a speculative urbanization process.

The modern imperative of the desert cities has demonstrated to create more problems than solutions (i.e., segregation, land speculation, unsustainable use of resources, corruption, etc.), while informal mechanisms and its high density and compactness has offered

Desert’s development could effectively provide conditions for affordable housing for middle and low-income families by grafting informal mechanisms into currently undeveloped land.  The project combines top-down operations – land provision and subdivision, urban utilities, public spaces,  and services existing in desert cities– with bottom-up developments fairly regulated and improved. 

The simplicity of the urban layout allows many myriad of possibilities to enrich the experience of the city and also to configure attractive housing units for small developers. .

In the large scale, this simple, flexible and replicable urban strategy establishes an alternative way to develop the desert.
Informal areas present many qualities that make them more affordable and desirable than alternatives provided by the government or the private sector; high density and compactness, social heterogeneity, owner-built and incremental buildings, informal jobs and social capital, etc. Unfortunately, informal settlements are consuming scarce agricultural land, and present lack of infrastructure and public space.
“The phenomenon of informality in Cairo, far from being an indication of underdevelopment, has being a rational response of Cairenes to population growth and housing shortages.”
Nada Tarbush

“In the affairs of men, there always appears to be a need for at least two things simultaneously, which, on the face of it, seem to be incompatible and to exclude one another. We always need both freedom and order. We need the freedom of lots and lots of small autonomous units, and, at the same time, the orderliness of large-scale, possibly global, unity and coordination.”
-E.F. Schumacher, Small is beautiful.