Promoting Cultural Identity along Streetscape Redesign “Case studies in Cairo and Luxor Cities, Egypt”

DOI : 10.17577/IJERTV4IS051101

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Promoting Cultural Identity along Streetscape Redesign “Case studies in Cairo and Luxor Cities, Egypt”

Mohga E. Embaby

Associate Professor of Architecture Architecture Department, Faculty of Engineering,

Fayoum University, Egypt

Abstract – In the recent decades, many approaches, trends, and visions had been introduced and applied for promoting and revitalizing cultural identity in the historic cities. The debates of interventions, policies, and implementation plans, are the essential community challenges. Most of strategies focused on local spines and main streets as the most priorities urban level for revitalizing action plans. Streetscape is an immediate vista of the city that people grasp and create the general image and identity of the city. A creative community vision can continuously evolve and embrace new ideas while balancing the inherent conflicting nature of past, present, and future community values and culture. Through this vision the paper adopts the streetscape redesign as an urban aspect to reinforce and embrace the cultural identity and urban character of the historic cities. The paper aims at analyzing the urban design principles for preserving and enhancing the local identity, uniqueness, and cultural assets of a community regarding in downtown main streets. It presents a proposal of practical framework for streetscape redesign through three phases, which can be applied in local streets in the historic cities. The framework produces redesign principles that reflect and support community character revitalization. The paper methodology depends on:

  1. Theoretical approach; analyzing thoughts of streetscape redesign and cultural identity relationship and concluding a practical framework identifying the main phases to redesign process.

  2. Practical approach; analyzing two different case studies of main streets in the Egyptian cities, evaluating the outputs and results.

    The paper concludes that the streetscape redesign have a vital role for conserving and promoting cultural identity of the historic cities.

    Keywords: Urban Design; Urban Character Streetscape; Cultural Identity; Historic cities.


      A City or an urban area is a place that has identity or individuality character that serves as the basis for its recognition as an inseparable entity (HARTANTI, & MARTOKUSUMO, 2012). A key element in achieving distinctiveness and citizen engagement with individual areas is to give them a clear sense of identity, and to help in the interpretation and understanding of all of that is around. As areas of our towns and cities become increasingly similar, with chain shops and identikit architecture prominent on

      many urban streets, there is growing recognition that places which retain character and local identity are developing a competitive advantage. They score in terms of visitor economy success and, as desirable places to live, work and spend leisure time in. This has led to the emergence of new disciplines around defining and managing the identity of place, and new thinking about initiatives to improve the appeal of urban areas, (EVANS, 2009). On the other hand there are best case studies applying new thoughts and methodologies to conserve and promote the local cultural identity, these projects started in the micro urban level that reflects the community culture and identity. Local streets in the historic cities are considered the most intimate urban level related and reacted with the community needs, trends, and culture.

      The new thoughts of enhancement the cultural identity highlighted the streetscape redesign as an urban approach to manage the physical level of cultural identity. It discussed the design guideline to represent and revitalize the inherent cultural values of a community. It rediscovered the authentic identity, memories, symbols and meanings latent in historic cities. The paper introduces a practical framework to enhance cultural identity through streetscape redesign, with special reference and application in the Egyptian historic cities; Cairo and Luxor downtown streets.


      Forward-thinking local authorities and others involved in the positive development of urban places have adopted strategies and initiated projects to limit the negative effects of cultural globalization, and increase a sense of individuality and distinctiveness. Projects have ranged from the refurbishment of heritage buildings and reworking of urban areas to make the most of unique architectural features, to the introduction of distinctive street signs, support of events or festivals that celebrate local character, and the development of marketing initiatives that highlight unique assets and local identity,(EVANS, 2009).

      To analyze the new approaches that promoting cultural identity in the urban levels, it will be important to review the culture definitions in the urban aspects, the concept of cultural identity revitalization in the modern community, and the streetscape effectiveness role in enhancement and promoting cultural identity.

      1. Revitalization of Cultural Identity

        Culture has been called "the way of life for an entire society." As such, it includes codes of manners, dress, language, religion, rituals, and norms of behavior such as law and morality, and systems of belief. Various definitions of culture reflect differing theories for understanding, or criteria for evaluating, human activity. More recently, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization described culture as follows: "… culture should be regarded as the set of distinctive spiritual, material, intellectual and emotional features of society or a social group, and that it encompasses, in addition to art and literature, lifestyles, ways of living together, value systems, traditions and beliefs", (UNESCO, 1998). Lash and Featherstone, described culture as which was assumed to possess a coherence and order, to enable it to act as the grounds for the formation of stable identities. (LASH & FEATHERSTONE, 1999). According to (RANA & PIRACHA,

        2007) , a cultural approach to the city produces some important impacts, among them creating safer public spaces, and promoting localism or a sense of identity against homogenizing globalization.

        This interpretation needs a deep and comprehensive understanding of the culture, and this is provided in the

        World Culture Report where culture is defined as the way of living as individuals and ways of living together.( UNESCO, 1998). This approach to culture puts it into a broad context so that cultural identity is related to the distinctive way people live individually and socially, so as to identity is always a dialectic thing between similarity and differences (BARTH, Fredrik ,1994).

        As the physical aspect of urban communities provides the inhabitants with a framework of necessary urban facilities fairly available and easily accessible,

        cultural aspect has to provide a network of cultural issues which allow the inhabitants to feel mentally and existentially sustainable. From this point of view, a cultural network is not limited to the physical preservation of the cultural heritage, but covers a broad range of cultural issues such as art, literature, tradition, and customs, as well as more subjective issues of identity, belonging, and sense of place (SHIRAZI, 2011).

        Cultural identity is an important contributor to peoples wellbeing, it refers to a persons sense of belonging to a particular culture or group. This process involves learnng about and accepting traditions, heritage, language, religion, ancestry, aesthetics, thinking patterns, and social structures of a culture. Normally, people internalize the beliefs, values, norms, and social practices of their culture and identify themselves with that culture. The culture becomes a part of their self-concept (LUSTIG, 2013).

        Identifying with a particular culture helps people feel they belong and gives them a sense of security. Other researchers describe cultural identity as referring to the content of values as guiding principles, to meaningful symbols, and to life styles that individuals share with others, though not necessarily within recognizable groups (BOSKI et al., 2004) Cultural revitalization is the process of affirming and promoting peoples individual and collective cultural identity, and it is the key to keep a culture up and running

        for generations. Without it, many ethnicities will be diminished from our knowledge. Culture revitalization strategies help to reveal and enhance the underlying identity, the unique meaning, value, and character of the physical and social form of a community. This identity is reflected through the community's character or sense of place. A community's sense of place is not a static concept; rather, it evolves and develops over time, reflecting the spectrum of social values within and around the community. In this way, according to (SOULE), the community character of a city, county, town, or neighborhood can be seen as a story or narrative of a place. Planners and community members can come together to reveal and burnish this narrative through:

        1. An articulation of the historic, cultural, economic, and cultural context of the community.

        2. A commitment to the reinforcement and enhancement of the community's identity.

        3. The implementation of policies, regulations, and incentives that support and enhance this evolving identity.

        Through these three levels of understanding and promoting cultural identity of a place, a revitalizing plan can be identified with three keywords;

        Context; by identifying and analyzing the contextual aspects and its relationships.

        Character; by promoting the physical and spiritual levels of the urban and architectural character.

        Community vision; by formulating the shared vision with the practical policies and plans.

        Featherstone and Lash write about two phenomena in the modern society, (LASH & FEATHERSTONE, 1999); multiculturalism, where societies are seen as being composed of a set of multiply-cultures; and interculturalism, where cultures are seen as clashing or in dialogue. In this case social movements create a context in which the traditions carried through art become actualized, reinvented and revitalized, and this is how the past comes to the present, although traditions can contain utopian images (ROMANOVA, 2007).

        Thus, the appropriated interventions to manage cultural identity in the urban levels must produce sensitive policies to conserve and harmonize the two cultural phenomena; the multiculturalism and the Interculturalism.

      2. Streets as a Core of Cultural Identity

        Streets and their sidewalks, the main public places of a city, are its most vital organs. Think of a city and its streets come directly to mind,( HARTANTI & MARTOKUSUMO,2012), Like an individual, it is believed that an urban place or a city needs identity so it can be seen as a distinct, separate entity from other city. Identity is an important attribute of a good environment in order to be called as a place and a valuable component for its sustainability (Oktay, 2002; Pui, 2004; Sepe, 2009). As stated by Garnham (Garnham, 1976), that each place or city contains identifiable special local attributes which produce a spirit of place that can be understood and communicated.

        Street as the element of the city is the most influencing elements of the cultural identity. The statement of Jane Jacobs (JACOBS, 1961), shows how important are the role

        of streets in creating image about a city, because street is an unavoidable urban space. People experience a city while they move through its streets. They see and feel the information presented along the street as we pass through it, and we create a perception about the city values,( HARTANTI & MARTOKUSUMO,2012).

        Street is a city's showcase where visitors put on first sight impression and decide whether he or she will like or dislike a city or even fall in love with it. When Kevin Lynch on his seminal work found the five elements of the image of the city, i.e. landmark, path, nodes, district and edge; he admitted that path is the most important element because from there people can recognize the other four elements (Lynch, 1984). Jacobs wrote about "Great Street" which emphasized how important streets are as an urban place. Alan Jacobs, wrote that some streets are very interesting, comforting and memorable so that people wants to go back for just another passing by or to be involved deeper in it (Jacobs, 1993). Some streets restore the city values, memories, events, history, and generally its restore cultural identity. If you walk along Al-Moez street, you see, feel, and percept the Islamic cultural identity in Egypt. Those streets, their names, their character, have become as a core of cultural identity.

        But, cities are experiencing fast developments as the result of industrialization, growing population, estate speculations, transportations, and many other things. Apparently, almost all the changes and developments in a city occur along the streets, at the existing streets as well as new streets built for the access of those developments. Therefore, it can be said that streets are the arena, witness, product, and also the victim of urban growth, ( HARTANTI & MARTOKUSUMO,2012).So when the streetscapes are regulated, controlled, the negative impacts of urban growth can be managed, and the original identity can be conserved.

      3. Streetscape Character

        As urban space, streets are experienced by the users as linear three dimensional spaces, where as they move along the street they will experiencing spaces formed by building facades, row of trees, sidewalks and other elements. Therefore, the design of street and streetscape has a great impact on users, and will determine the peoples perception of the citys character and cultural identity (Wibisono, 2001).

        Improvements to the character of a city and initiatives that aim to enhance local identity need to represent the local streets or accurately redesign its streetscapes as micro urban level to be communicated effectively with short-term plan. Indeed, the approach of using streetscape as a focal urban aspect has been developed in many cities to invigorate places and introduce a sense of harmony, values, and identity.

        • Streetscape, as a definition from the American Heritage Dictionary is a view or scene of streets, it is the visual elements of a street, including the road, adjoining buildings, sidewalks, street furniture, trees and open spaces, etc, that combine to form the street's character, ( American Heritage, 2011). According to Martin Pegler, The character and design of the streetscape are some of the determining

          factors in the success of the highlighting the city cultural identity.

        • Streetscape design elements according to(Streetscape Handbook) include; sidewalks, street corners and curb extension, trees and landscape strips, planters, seating, trash/ash receptacles, public arts, screening, fences, building facades and walls, special activity and event spaces, alley and in-fill spaces, fixtures/ utility zone, lighting, painting, and signage. It can be summarized in table 1.

          Table 1. Streetscape design elements

          Source; (Streetscape Handbook, adopted by author.)

          The streetscape design elements must create a good environment for people to visit and gather in order to be the center of the community. Socia, cultural and economic interactions are communal goals of a good streetscape urban design,(PEGLER). On establishment a visual authentic image that is flexible, sustainable, distinct, appealing and comfortable, the conservation and promotion of communitys values and identity will be celebrated and developed.

        • Streetscape character generally deals with the appearance and relationship of the exterior features of a city and the design elements of the streets that determine its particular character (Wibisono, 2001). As three dimensional urban space, streetscape span from the building façade of one side to the other side of the street, which, according to (Aurbach, 2005), consists of three layers, that are shown in figure 1:

          1. The vehicular lanes are the space from curb to curb (or, if there are no curbs, from pavement edge of one side to pavement edge of the other side of the street), which mainly used as thoroughfare including travel lanes and parking lanes.

          2. The public frontage is the publicly owned space between the private plot boundaries and the edge of the vehicular lanes that may include (sidewalks or pathways, street corners and curb extension, street planters, trees and other vegetated landscaping, public arts, trash/ash receptacles, fixtures/ utility zone, utilities, seating and other street furniture). It is also known as roadside.

          3. The private frontage is the privately owned land between the building facade and the plot boundary that may include ( the arcades, porches, stoops, fences, alley and in-fill spaces , special activity spaces, special event spaces and yards.

            Figure 1. Streetscape layers Source: Hartantis (2012)

            According to Mansouri (2009), the composition of streetscape elements that determine its character is categorized as:

        • Static system; comprises the permanent and semi- permanent physical elements of street, including the buildings envelope, the open space, the road, the street furniture, and the green infrastructure.

        • Dynamic system; is the activities that occupy the street spaces, including the movement of people on vehicles (mechanical system) or as pedestrians and their activities and events around the building which are connected or oriented to the street (Human system).

          • Streetscape Imageability and Character Perception Streetscape can also be analyzed in visual terms such as: street alignment, length of segment, scale and proportion, architectural forms and spatial configuration (Wibisono, 2001). The study on peoples perception of streetscape character based on the assumption that some collective qualities exist because the majority of people experiencing a city street must have shared some experiences, and it is a result of similar interactions between the physical reality of the space and basic human physiology (Tucker, 2005). From these notions Kevin Lynch developed the concept of imageability that is the ability of urban elements to evoke a strong image for an observer (Lynch, 1984). Imageability of streetscape character is concerned with the visual arrangement of elements within the street environment and how those elements relate to each other and create a distinct character or perceivable differences that indicate the cultural identity.

      4. The Need for Streetscape Redesign

The Streetscape redesign begins with the main elements redesign; the way the sidewalk is designed – the materials used the accent bands, the location of trees and planters, the building facades improved, the infill elements developed,

etc – all work to define a sense of place and identity in the downtown, (PEGLER). The processes to promote and revitalize the cultural identity starts with streetscape redesign its elements to improve the streetscape character. On improving the three layers of character; the vehicular lanes, the public frontage, and the private frontage, integrated with revitalizing the cultural values, heritage elements, and rediscovering the historic activities, memories, spiritual meanings and community symbols, the imageability of the streetscape character can be sensed and recognized. If the streets have a distinct character, it will reflect an identity. The process of streetscape redesign is shown in figure 2. It must confirm due to (ALEXANDRIAVA, 2005) the following objective to integrate with the cultural identity of the community

  1. Preserve existing historic scale and character

  2. Encourage and support the community events and special activities within streetscape spaces

  3. Allow for appropriate infill development and redevelop incompatible buildings by implementing standards and guidelines to ensure quality development that reflects the scale of existing historic structures

  4. Celebrate the cultural values by protecting and enhancing the corridors visual appearance through streetscape and façade improvements.

Figure 2, the streetscape redesign process to enhance cultural identity. Source: The author


    The urban design framework is formulated to assist local councils and property owners redesign streetscape elements to highlight its cultural identity through appropriate conservation and enhancement work, and to encourage a vibrant and evolving community where both heritage and development are sustained. An enhanced streetscape identity improves the quality of the built environment, ensuring shared public spaces are accessible, appealing and welcoming to everyone. Heritage has the potential to improve our quality of life, by improving our understanding of the past and ourselves, (SOULE).

    Streetscape redesign provides an opportunity to enhance the local communitys sense of identity and urban character through the conservation of heritage and sympathetic new development. All heritage items require cyclical maintenance to ensure a sustainable future. Non-heritage items also require similar maintenance work. However, heritage items may require a different or more careful approach to maintenance and repair, and if this is lacking there can be serious consequences in terms of loss of heritage value, local identity and character, (DEBORAH 2005).

    There are three urban design phases affecting in enhancing local identity along streetscape redesign: as shown in figure3.

    Figure.3 The proposed framework of Streetscape redesign to Enhance Cultural Identity, Source; The author

    3.1 Phase1: Understanding Community Context

    It is the first and essential phase in the streetscape redesign plans that investigate detailed information within its urban context. It helps a community begin to understand its historic, cultural, economic, and social context, which forms a foundation for developing and building sense of place.

    It can be developed a matrix of required studies on the level of architectural and urban conditions, socio-economic, cultural significance, and ecology, as shown in table2. Site investigation and analysis of current conditions includes study and documentation of all factors that affect in the revitalization vision, policies and intervention projects, (DEBORAH 2005).

    This context includes a variety of community characteristics: population, demographic, and linguistic characteristics; physical and natural resources; cultural history; climate; customs; landscape features; design and architectural elements; local educational institutions; and temporary artistic and cultural exhibits, events, and spaces. A comprehensive list of the community context elements and conditions can be classified in table (2), which includes 4 main categories;

    1. Ecological conditions

    2. Socio-economic conditions

    3. Cultural significance & values

    4. Urban and architectural conditions

      Table 2. The main data and information of the urban context of streetscape redesign. Sourc; The author.

        1. Phase 2: Celebrating Community Character

          While an inventory of place provides the initial context for building sense of place and establishing community identity, the combination of context and the reinforcement of the current climate and culture of a place create community character or identity, (DEBORAH 2005).

          Community character is something a community has inherently, not something that can be applied like makeup. Reinforcing sense of place therefore requires first a comprehensive understanding of a community's historic, cultural, economic, and social context, and second a vision for the future that continuously evolves and embraces new ideas while balancing the inherent conflicting nature of past, present, and future community values and culture. This phase requires a sensitive approach to document the architectural and urban elements of the streetscape context, an accurate documentation of streetscape character layers and elements detail. The streetscape imageability studies can enhance the distinct character and the sense of identity.

        2. Phase 3: Regarding Streetscape Redesign Principles Preserving and enhancing the local cultural identity, uniqueness, and arts and culture assets of a community through streetscape redesign requires that local decision making, planning processes, policies, and regulations reflects and supports this community character. Local government programs, policies, and regulations that incorporate the underlying philosophy or identity of a community can provide a framework for streetscape redesign , that aims to encourage development that is place based, and reinforce the cultural goals and vision of a community. This framework supports the work of civic leaders and community advocates and can help bring new allies, talent, and ideas into the streetscape redesign process. All works to heritage items must be preceded by a logical design process, summarized according to (DEBORAH 2005) in the following;

      • Understanding significance (including investigation, assessment and development of a statement of significance)

      • Developing conservation policies (including balancing user needs and resources against condition, and most importantly, significance)

      • Implementing the policies through any necessary works and ongoing maintenance.

      The streetscape redesign principles are arranged in the order that work should generally be carried out;

      1. Removal of unsympathetic elements

      2. Site interpretation

      3. Repairs and reinstatement of lost elements

      4. Sympathetic infill development

      5. Street surfaces and furniture

      6. Lighting

      7. Signage

      8. Painting

      The paper depends on two case studies to clarify and evaluate the practical part on applying the previous streetscape redesign principles. The two case studies are in a historic city with distinctive identity;

      1. The case of El-Television Street in Luxor downtown, Egypt (as a non historic street)

      2. The case of Kasr El-Nil Street in Cairo downtown, Egypt.( as a historic street).

      On discussing and checking the proposed theoretical principles in the Egyptian challenges, it can be reviewed and identified the implementation limits , the practical results, and the main recommendations and modifications.


Both of Luxor and Cairo city, as a world heritage site, are mains street in the downtown within a historic city. The two streets have its own conflicts and challenges. However, they include a significant cultural value formed and contributed essentially in the wide range of Egyptian varieties of the cultural identity. The paper selected two streets, are similar in the urban level and importance in a historic city downtown, but extremely different in character.

    1. Luxor, s Streetscape Redesign project, introduction: Luxor, or Thebes, the city of the god Amon, was the capital of Egypt during the period of the Middle and New Kingdom. With the temples and places at Karnak and Luxor, as shown in figure 4, and the necropolises of the Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Queens, Luxor is a striking testimony to Egyptian civilization at its height. It contains the finest relics of the history, art and religion of ancient Egypt, of which it was the capital in its period of greatest splendor, (UNESCO, 1992)

      Luxor has long been Egypt's prize possession. Mansour Boraik, who oversees Upper Egypt for the country's Supreme Council of Antiquities, adds "30% of world

      monuments lie in Luxor, and 70% of the monuments in Egypt are in Luxor." (HAUSLOHNER, 2010).

      Figure 4. The outstanding cultural heritage in Luxor city Source; UNESCO Luxors Heritage boundaries, 1998

      In 1979, Luxor had listed in the UNESCO World Heritage List, and since 1998, it had conservation and restoration projects, reports, and maps that evaluate and document the state and boundaries of the archeological components, as shown in fig.4. (UNESCO, 1992)

      Over decades, illegal urban growing was spread around temples, the local districts, streets, and urban spaces were lacking of the sense of cultural identity, as shown in figure 5, and the historic city which have third of the world heritage lost its touristic attraction.

      In 2005, an effort to preserve the riches and beef up the number of tourists they attract local authorities have been pressing an ambitious project to reinvent and revive Luxor; rehabilitating tombs, and expanding the city's tourist infrastructure. The Supreme Council of Luxor city had regenerated the project of City of Luxors Master Plan 2030 , (The Supreme Council of Luxor city, 2005).

      Figure 5. The lacking of streets cultural identity in Luxors downtown. Source; Abdel Mohsen, (2005).

      The main development sites included the heritage sites conservation and its urban buffer zone identification. The main streetscape redesign of the city center was the main priority action plan. Large Action plans to redesign the main streets of the downtown was developed to revitalize its significant identity and represent the heritage city of Luxor as a unique world heritage site. The project involved the resident community and used local myths and traditions to create a series of unique public realm improvements, enhancement and revitalization of the citys cultural identity along its streetscape.

      The main streetscapes redesign within Luxors Master Plan 2030 was Al- Television Street, as located in figure 6. In the middle of Luxors downtown, connected with Luxor Temple, it was redesigned by Abdel Mohsen, Ashraf,

      Design and Architectural Research Unit, Ain Shams University, (2005).

      Luxor Temple

      Figure 6. TV street location in Luxors downtown Source; Abdel Mohsen (2005).

    2. Cairo, S Khedivial Streetscape Redesign project, introduction:

      Planned and partly developed by Khedive Ismail in the second half of the 19th century, Khedivial Cairo was Egypts political, financial and commercial center for a century. Modeled after the Paris of the 1830s and built in the best art deco, neo-classical and neo-baroque architectural styles, the Khedivial Quarter was a buzzing cosmopolitan hub. Its landmark buildings still have ties to the leading personalities who lived and worked there, and regularly patronized its clubs and cafes. Five decades of rent controls, nationalization, mismanagement and neglect have taken their toll, (EAAE / ARCC, 2012), as shown in figure 7.

      Figure 7. The Khedivial Cairo map & the main historic streets and character, Source; Al-Ismailia for Real Estate Investments2010 & NOUH

      The built environment has deteriorated due to lack of maintenance. Many institutions and high-end commercial establishments that characterized the area moved to more modern quarters. Streets nd passageways have been taken over by vendors and residents.

      Starting in the 1980s, the slow dismantling of the controls that stifled the economy allowed for the emergence of a dynamic private sector. Among the new generation of architects was a greater sensitivity to the qualities of the historic architectural and urban heritage and an understanding of the value of the 19th and early 20th century urban fabric according (Institute For International Urban Development 2009-2011). NOUH, the National Organization of Urban Harmony, Ministry of Culture developed a project to ensure the preservation of the historic character of the buildings and promote their restoration to historically compatible standards. The project location was in one of the main famous distinctive street in Khedivial Cairo, it was Kasr El-Nil Street.

      NOUH, introduced a new approach to deal with Khedivial Cairo started from that pilot project in Kasr El-Nil Street, followed by the project of The bases and criteria for the urban harmony of heritage buildings and areas, and excellent value (2010), and finally, the project of defining (The limits and requirements of the khedivial Cairo,2011). These projects were supported of the Supreme Council for planning & urban development according to law No. 119/2008 and regulations. The three projects included guidelines framework to deal with streetscape redesign in the heritage cities and areas of outstanding cultural values. Figure.8 clarifies the location of Kasr El-Nil Street within Khedivial Cairo.

      Figure.8 The location of Kasr El-Nil Street in the core of Khedivial Cairo, Source; Al-Ismailia for Real Estate Investments2010, NOUH

    3. Applying the Streetscape Redesign Principles along Television and Kasr El-Nil Streets

The two case studies reflects many years of neglecting the conservation of heritage values inherent of historic cities, lacking of maintenance, protection and regulation laws, misuse, chaos and lack of control, etc. The case of TV Street reflects a type of characterless street in a historic city, however Kasr El-Nil Street reflects an outstanding character suffering from misusing, contradiction, and destruction as shown in figure 9.

TV Street building facades Kasr El-Nil street building facades

Figure 9, the need for redesign and reform the current building facades of TV Street and Kasr El-Nil Street

The paper analyzes the two cases with the reference of the theoretical principles formulated to redesign of the streetscape to conclude and review the practical results in activating and enhancement cultural identity of the Egyptian cities, by using the international experiences in streetscape redesign regulations and principles, (DEBORAH & BEEBE, 2005).

      1. Removal of unsympathetic elements

        Unsympathetic elements are those that have altered the original fabric of the building, leading to a loss of heritage significance and historic character. Unsympathetic elements that have been added to both of TV and Kasr El-Nil Street such as large signs, in appropriate additions and infill,.. etc, should be removed to highlight the original historic character and enhance the buildings aesthetics.

        The removal of unsightly elements that conceal or inappropriately alter a buildings character will enhance its appearance and heritage significance, and assist in developing local character and identity. The application in the case studies is shown in table3.

        Table3, the application of unsympathetic elements removal in TV & Kasr El-Nil Streets

      2. Site interpretation

        Interpretation means all the ways of telling a story and explaining what is important about a place. Interpretation may be a combination of the treatment of the fabric (e.g. maintenance, restoration, reconstruction); the use of and activities at the place; and the use of introduced explanatory material. Interpretation enhances the character imageability, recalls memories, events, and stories related to the site. It promotes understanding and enjoyment of heritage items by appealing to different audiences, different levels of experience and knowledge and different learning styles, which form one of the identity axis. It is a means of sharing and passing on the knowledge of the citys culture and values. Table 4 clarifies the application of site interpretation concept, in both of the two case studies, which depends on the retrieval of history related to the community, referring to symbols, persons, events,..etc..

        Table 4, the site interpretation and enhancement character imageability in TV & Kasr El-Nil Streets

      3. Repairs and Reinstatement of Lost Elements

        To encourage a respectful approach to heritage buildings, existing significant details and fabric should be repaired rather than replaced. The repair and reinstatement of a buildings lost elements will enhance its appearance and heritage significance.

        If significant fabric is required to be removed, it should be done as a temporary measure with the intention of reinstatement in the future.

        New work should be recognizable as new work on close inspection, so as not to confuse the historical development of the building, but should not affect the integrity of the item.

        Where sufficient information is not available to accurately guide design of lost elements and their reinstatement, new work should be based on sympathetic additions or alterations that are appropriate to the historic character of the building. Modern design and materials can be used if proportions and details are harmonious with the historic context. Color, texture and tone can unify a new design. Table 5 analyzes the main concept in the two cases to retrieve the lost identity and the conflict in character elements.

        Table 5, the repairs and redesign of lost and incompatible elements in TV & Kasr El-Nil Streets

      4. Painting

        Cleaning and repainting can significantly improve the appearance of a building and enhance the streetscape. Repainting in appropriate colors can reinforce their character and architectural features; it can physically protect architectural form and meaning, and positively affect the way people perceive it. Where the existing paint or other finishes are of heritage significance, careful consideration may be required to preserve them. New color schemes do not need to imitate full historic schemes, but should still evoke colors and tonal range, as shown in table 6.

        signs or motifs that are part of the buildings original design, and must avoid large signs that overwhelm the building façade and obscure architectural features. If possible, apply signs to traditional positions such as parapet panels, and integrate with the buildings character. Table 7 clarifies the signage proposals in both TV & Kasr El-Nil Streets.

        Table 7, redesign proposals for signage locations and sizes in TV & Kasr El-Nil Streets

        Table 6, the color scheme conservation and respect in TV & Kasr El-Nil Streets

      5. Signage

        Existing signs, whether freestanding, attached to a heritage item or painted on it may be an important part of an older building. Such signage should be retained in situ and conserved as necessary. Where signs have a relationship with the item that is integral to its significance, this relationship should not be obscured. New signage should be sensitively located, scaled and detailed so as not to obscure, damage or disturb the integrity of the heritage item. Some local organizations have their own policies on signage for heritage items and it will be necessary to satisfy their requirements (such as the guidelines for signs adopted by NOUH, ministry of Culture, Egypt .

        Use signage to enhance the character of the building as well as to impart information. If possible, use existing

      6. Lighting

        Sensitively located external lighting is used for buildings to improve security and safety, and to provide an identity for the building. Lighting is also used alongthe streetscape and within parks to improve security and safety, and to provide an identity for the open space.

        Thoughtfully designed lighting will highlight and enhance a building, streetscape or open space, and its features and define its sense of space.

        Implement, where possible, any local area lighting scheme intended to enhance and unify a local area such as façade and under-awing lighting.

        Table 8 presents external lighting types related to streetscape elements in both TV & Kasr El-Nil Streets.

        Table 8, the external lighting fixtures and lamp types in TV & Kasr El-Nil Streets

      7. Sympathetic infill development

        Sympathetic infill development should maintain and enhance an areas distinctive identity and sense of place and protect the special qualities that give the place character. New buildings or additions should be designed in a way that respects the old while reflecting the new and meeting the amenity needs of its users.

        To achieve a successful infill design new development should consider the following:

        1. character;

        2. scale;

        3. form;

        4. sitting;

        5. materials and colour; and

        6. detailing.

          Sympathetic infill can accommodate new development and change, and also enhance the appearance and heritage significance of existing buildings and precincts.

          New additions are varied from new buildings, facades, furniture elements, activities, signs and lightings, etc. The redevelopment and redesign cases must be included, as shown in table 9.

          Table 9, Types of sympathetic additions and infills in TV & Kasr El-Nil Streets

      8. Street surfaces and furniture

        The design, position, quantity, quality and type of street surfaces and furniture can assist in attracting people to public spaces. Selective lighting, paved footpaths, vegetation, seating and other public amenities can add to the ambience and character of a place.

        If original materials are present, such as kerbing or pavement, they should be retained wherever possible, as they contribute to local character. New materials should be appropriate to the area and include ongoing maintenance.

        Well designed and illuminated public spaces help to manage security and ensure that an area is an attractive and friendly place to use and visit during the day or night.

        Encourage imaginative, useful and sympathetic street furniture to unify precincts, and create local identity and character, such as bollards, drinking fountains, seats, garbage bins and street lights.

        Street lights should be unobtrusive wherever possible or concealed behind architectural features (i.e. in a light well on the footpath to highlight a tree). Trees and other plantings can improve the appearance of areas and play a crucial role for the environment. However, plantings should only be used when they can make a positive addition to the streetscape.

        Public art can play a major role in revitalizing an area and fostering street life. Commissioning public art should include a clear brief that considers lighting, landscaping and scale. Public art can be a way of interpreting the heritage of the place in a creative way.

        Table 10, clarifies the proposals of street surfaces redesigns and new furniture designs in both of TV & Kasr El-Nil Streets.

        community character acts as an obligatory outline to redesign processing. On solving the contradiction between respects the heritage significant image and meet the existing needs of materials, activities, and technologies, the identity of the community will enhanced and sustained.

        The streetscape redesign principles reflect the urban design criteria in heritage contents. It introduces the main principles to guide and control the design processing and to formulate the quality of outputs. The main outputs are related to streetscape elements, which generally includes;

        1. Building facades redesign

        2. Elements and activities removal and addition

        3. Lighting, painting, and signage redesign

        4. Furniture elements redesign


          contextual factors

          character outlines

          redesign principles


          main concepts and thoughts

          alternatives evaluation


          Building facades

          Elements and activities removal and addition

          Lighting, painting, and signage

          Furniture elements

          Figure 10, the theoretical results of streetscape redesign process to enhance local identity

          Source; Author

          Table 10, the external lighting fixtures and lamp types in TV & Kasr El-Nil Streets


The paper analyzes the important relations between cultural identity and streetscape redesign principles, in the developing country such as Egypt. This issue has great challenges related to the current conditions of historic cities and the development trends and strategies. On the other hand, the streetscape redesign process inputs are varying and contrasting. Theoretically, with reference to figure 10, to enhance local cultural identity through redesigning streetscape, three phases have to be considered;

  1. Understanding Community Context

  2. Celebrating Community Character

  3. Regarding Streetscape Redesign Principles

On understanding socio economic, cultural, ecological, and urban context, the streetscape redesign processes have the main outputs related to the city cultural identity. The

Practically, the main streets as the core of urban and visual city image, within in the historic cities, can be classified – with regarded to character- into two main categories;

  1. Streets with definite, distinctive character related to the heritage style and elements.

  2. Streets with indefinite character, lacking of distinctive elements.

The two cases are existing in parallel within historic cities, the first of them reflects the original cultural identity and the changes occurred along ages, ( as Kasr El-Nil street, Khedivial Cairo ); the second reflects the development in the next ages of the city origins and not related to its distinctive identity, ( as TV street in Luxor downtown). The practical analysis tried to evaluate and discover the main differences in redesign concepts and approaches to enhance cultural identity in both of them. The streetscape principles (phase 3) are the common input of the redesign process, the paper presented the main outputs of streetscape redesign, which are replaying to the common principles, it concludes to the following results, as detailed in table 11 ;

  1. The main effective intervention policy in enhancement cultural identity was removing the unsympathetic elements in the case of Kasr El-Nil Street. However, it was adding sympathetic elements belonged to the cultural identity in the case of TV Street.



    furniture elements was to have an architectural


    introduce important addition improve image

    redesign outputs




  2. Painting, lighting, and signage are urban tools to highlight the prevailed character and significant values, and to create unity and urban harmony




    revitalize the lost identity in the

    to visual and

  3. The more of existing street character appearance, the less of redesign processing and intervention policies, and vice versa.

    material, elements, colours, scale, and symbols of historic

    aesthetic value

    • It promotes streetscape environmental

  4. Street furniture must be redesigned to promote integration of environmental, aesthetic, and socio- cultural values within streetscape.



    and social reintroduced with significance new formation.


    evluation with regarding to redesign principles

    Kasr El-Nil streetscape redesign project

    TV streetscape redesign project

    Table 11, the main differences in the outputs resulting from applying redesign principles in TV & Kasr El-Nil Streets

    • It is a limited It is a wide range


Building facades redesign

intervention that depends on redesign some in sympathetic facades ( such as new shops)

  • The original character image were dominant in the building facades redesign

intervention to create a distinctive character

  • The outputs were focused on the commercial activities and

    bazaars facade redesign to add architectural elements related to pharaonic style.

    The formulation and application of streetscape redesign principles to enhance local cultural identity requires a deep understanding to the street urban context; existing built environment, socio-economic, ecological, and cultural conditions. The community character, related to significant values and identity, must be emphasized by celebrating character elements, layers and imageability along streetscape. The redesign principles for streetscape focus on identifying the main intervention tools to enhance community character and identity along main streets. These principles are varied from removing unsympathetic

    • Removing was The project policy elements and activities to design the infill building and

Elements and activities

removal and

the main

intervention policy that

affected in identity polishing and enhancement the character significance

depends on additions more than removing, to create a distinctive character which

retrieves and highlights the city significant identity

additions. It introduces theoretical guidelines to develop and revitalize historic streets. On applying these principles, there are main differences in streets existing urban conditions, so that each of these principles has its importance and effectiveness. The essential issue is how to apply the appropriate redesign principles along streetscape according to its character conditions. Finally the historic cities, around

world, need to great efforts to maintain and revitalize its


It was directed to The new additions

distinctive character along streetscape to conserve local

signs, sheds, and all incompatible activities and elements

Redesign of signs New lighting and

include streetscape elements that meet the community needs and character enhancement

heritage, cultures, and identity.


Lighting, painting, and signage


affects mainly in highlighting character and retrieving urban harmony, lighting is used to focus on the significant elements and values

  • New painting

    signs were designed to contribute in forming and creating character, signage was related to shops and bazaars activities, lighting was related to street furniture

    and sidewalks.

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