Informal Urban Development in Cairo: A Parametric Urban Design and Daylight Quality Analysis of the El-Marg El-Gedida Area

Nicolai Steinø, Mads Dines Petersen

Research output: Contribution to book/anthology/report/conference proceedingBook chapterResearchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


The city of Cairo, Egypt, currently experiences rapid urban growth. Large parts of the city expand without formal urban planning. This results in large-scale informal and unplanned development. In addition, the resulting urban fabric and individual buildings feature severe deficiencies when it comes to the basic quality of urban space, ventilation and daylight. While retrofitting already built-up areas would be a huge challenge, some minor improvements might be possible in future development even within the current mode of production of these spaces. In recent years, parametric design tools have opened up new possibilities for modelling in urban design. By way of a parametric design approach, different urban design parameters can be modified and new urban space scenarios can be rendered three dimensionally in almost real time. In short, this is parametric urban design. It opens up completely new possibilities for analysing and designing urban space and individual buildings, and thus to evaluate the architectural, spatial and technical aspects of literally hundreds of different designs. In combination with environmental simulation technology, parametric design forms a powerful duo in order not only to evaluate qualitative aspects of design but also quantitative aspects of particular environmental conditions relating to specific designs. In principle, every design scenario of a parametric urban design model can be evaluated against its environmental performance. The El-Marg El-Gedida area is located at the northern edge of the Cairo metropolitan area and comprises one of the largest areas of informal settlement in the city. In recent years, development in this area has accelerated due to the construction of Line 1 of the metro, and the area’s connection to the northern part of the Cairo ring road. A large patch of predominantly agricultural land is still undeveloped yet under increasing pressure for development, making it a relevant case for parametric urban design scenario building for future development. Using the El-Marg El-Gedida area as a demonstration case, this paper aims to investigate the potential for the application of a parametric urban design approach to urban space design in Cairo in combination with daylight analysis. The paper presents a discussion of what parameters are feasible to include in this particular urban setting, and an analysis of indoor daylight quality for a number of different design scenarios.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRevitalizing City Districts : Transformation Partnership for Urban Design and Architecture in Historic City Districts
Number of pages19
Publication date2017
ISBN (Print)978-3-319-46288-2
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-319-46289-9
Publication statusPublished - 2017
SeriesThe Urban Book Series


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