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Reimagining Cairo one passageway at a time

CLUSTER, a Cairo-based design lab, inaugurated a re-design of an alleyway known as Kodak Passage in January. (CLUSTER photo)

The revitalization of Cairo may hinge on its labyrinth of passageways. Narrow alleyways that wind between buildings in downtown Cairo house coffee shops, bookstores and other assorted businesses. Writing in, CLUSTER, a Cairo-based urban studies lab, spotlights its effort to make greater use of this public space.

The lab has launched Cairo Downtown Passages, a pilot project that aims to harness the potential of these lanes. Its ideas include bike lanes, children’s festivals and flea markets. Among the passageway’s charms: They are free from vehicular traffic and the honking and fumes that accompany it. As a result, artists find respite and pedestrians linger longer as they browse shops and savor Arabic coffee.

CLUSTER says the simplicity of these spaces makes the city more inclusive, diverse and accessible. It also views them as a catalyst for reimagining all of Cairo. The alleyways offer an alternative to traditional development that emphasizes street grids, the group explains in the article.

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