REAL FICTIONS :
UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA
CRITIC. FERDA KOLATAN
HOUSES MODELED BY KOLATAN STUDIO
EXHIBITED IN 2016 VENICE BIENNALE . EGYPTIAN PAVILION
Within the boundaries of the informal city, new and exclusive apartment buildings have begun to emerge. What was formerly known as an undesirable and dangerous residential neighborhood, has reinvented itself through a focused rebranding of its existing housing stock. Acting as their own real estate developers and agents, a group of homeowners have formed a collective, and started to renovate and rebuild select buildings to demonstrate the specific architectural qualities resulting from the dynamic circumstances of informal building manufacturing.
The outcome is a variety of unprecedented housing typologies with features and properties, which are both common to the neighborhood yet strange if viewed outside their presumptive context. By highlighting these typologies through prototypes, the collective was able to slowly trigger a rise in the popularity of these buildings, even attracting outside investors and clientele who hope to partake in what many predict to be a new real estate boom in Cairo. To further these efforts, the collective created a “Realist Estate” catalog advertising their most successful models such as the The Terrace, The Lofts, The Modern Villa, and more.
As a consequence of the unexpected success of the Realist Estates, larger building complexes have developed into what can only be described as the informal response to the affluent gated communities outside the inner city limits of Cairo. These complexes, also known as “Conglomerate Urbanism”, combine various individual building prototypes into often spectacular vertical environments, exaggerating the already complex organization of the informal city into a conglomerate object, and challenge in the process many conventional notions of urbanism, both formal and informal.