Sunday, April 4, 2010

Notes from a Strange Land: Building for the Future

In a land that is so focused on their monumental past, I find myself fascinated by the way in which they build for the future. As seen in a view from the pavilion surrounding the Colossus of Ramses II at Memphis, easily 95% of all new construction residential buildings are brick and cement and only completed as space is needed. The buildings, from Alexandria to Luxor, all share this unfinished top floor from which protrude concrete pillars encasing steel rebar. As the family grows, or the owner determines there is a need for more space, they add a floor, just as the one before it, with the same pillars and exposed rebar. This lack of commitment to the future, and the heavy involvement of the government in most construction, is a striking example of the seeming reluctance to plan communities, make organized neighborhoods and create a reliable, shared infrastructure. Fascinating.

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