“Symbolism, it’s not every day that one has the chance to rebuild a capital. One should make the most of it and not be afraid.” —Claude Vasconi.

In designing the new Egyptian Parliament building, I made a decision to create a building that emerges from its site rather than imposing as a monument.


Courtesy of Joseph N. Fahmy Estefanos

I also intended to keep the importance of the site relevant today because it has many glorious historical associations

“No back corridors for back stairs diplomacy but open glazed rooms for public negotiation of honest men.” ­Hanes Myer 1927.


Courtesy of Joseph N. Fahmy Estefanos

The scheme aims to symbolize democracy by encouraging participation of the public in the democratic process by the creation of an open and publicly welcoming building. The architecture of the building expresses transparency and openness. The main concept of the new Parliament building is to make democracy more accessible. The building is entirely transparent at the public level.

Arch2o-The New Egyptian Parliament Building  Joseph N. Fahmy Estefanos (9)

Courtesy of Joseph N. Fahmy Estefanos

I created a sense of accessible democracy, in contrast with democracy hidden behind barricades and thick concrete walls. I also intend in my design to achieve cultural harmony, continuity to the public realm and a mark of the progress done by the revolution.  In my design I created a forum for the power of the people.

The new transparent designs will emphasis on the relation between the democratic work inside the assembly and the symbolic association of its exterior.

The design vocabulary will present the new democratic state in a built form. The main debating chamber is in full public view. The chamber should be open to all registered voters and formal news media.

 Arch2o-The New Egyptian Parliament Building  Joseph N. Fahmy Estefanos (10)

Courtesy of Joseph N. Fahmy Estefanos

  “All around the world we are fortress building at present, yet are we any more secure? —Adrian Welch, formerly a project architect on the Scottish Parliament.

 Arch2o-The New Egyptian Parliament Building  Joseph N. Fahmy Estefanos (12)

Courtesy of Joseph N. Fahmy Estefanos

Inspired by a graffiti art campaign in downtown Cairo called NO WALLS where most of governmental building are located. Artists gathered and started painting the cement wall barriers calling for dismantling of the cement barriers and demanding transparency with statement like, “let us see the daylight.”

“We shape our buildings, and afterwards our buildings shape us.”  —Winston Churchill, October 1943.


Courtesy of Joseph N. Fahmy Estefanos

Accessibility to assemblies nowadays is more symbolic than they are authentic. In my proposal the public can stand behind the members or above their heads rather than be closed off from the actual debate. In the parliament representing the second republic, public and private spaces will overlap and alternate. The politicians and the public will be able to walk together as equals through the main entrance. However, there will be separate entrances reserved for the MPs and staff only. Along there will be spaces reserved for members only dining rooms, libraries, corridors and points throughout the building in which members sit, read, chat, deliberate. Some of those places will have media access, but public access.

 Arch2o-The New Egyptian Parliament Building  Joseph N. Fahmy Estefanos (11)

Courtesy of Joseph N. Fahmy Estefanos

A temple for democracy

I strongly believe that political spaces should be embedded with key clues about a nation’s cultural structure; one of Egypt’s most important cultural structures is religion. Orientation is an important part of religious rituals. The alter in the Coptic Orthodox church is placed on the west end of a church building so that prayers will face east during ceremonies. Muslims pray five times a day in which they face towards Mecca. Based on the importance of orientation and the ritual process of prayer, I am proposing a challenge to the western democracy model.  The 2/3 circle represents El-Tahrir square and the voting crowds vote on the speaker’s statement.  Hovering above the space there will be six tribunes with 75 seats each, 4 of them would be reserved for the public and 2 for the press. The overall form of the chamber is going to be a fan-like to add another level of orientation to the real square representing the informal public space which is an extension to the formal public space. To build in democracy means to build for and with the citizens and not against them. This new setting in addition to design of certain elements like staircases set off-angle to mute politicians grandeur, will also combat forces like wealth, specific political party control, and personal ambition. The building is elevated on a grand set of stairs for the supreme effect. The representatives then have to descend again 8 stairs in a symbolic glance to descending to the public demands.

The New Egyptian Parliament Building- El-Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt
School: Academy of Art University- Graduate School of Architecture
M.ARCH  Final Thesis Project May 10,2013
Student: Joseph N. Fahmy Estefanos
Richard W. Smith, PhD, Architect

 Arch2o has received this project from our readers in order to participate in the Students week 4 event, you may submit your own work for publication in the Students Week 5 by sending it to igraduate(at)arch2o.com

Courtesy of Joseph N. Fahmy Estefanos

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