Cairo, Egypt

Dawar El Ezba Cultural Center

Located at the heart of Cairo, the dawar el ezba Cultural Center aims to bring recreational and educational activities to the people of Ez`bet Khairallah. The Center consists of a kitchen that offers vocational training for women, an art studio for kids, and a theatre space for multi-purpose activities. The building seeks to retranslate the architectural language of the area through using local materials and aims to become a living agent within its context.

Project info

Construction phase
Mixed of new construction or refurbishment
Building type
Non-residential building
Detailed building type
Community Centre
Net floor area
318 m2
Land plot size
78 m2
4 stories
Original construction year of the building
Project contact
Dawar For Arts and Development
Contact email address

Project team

Ben Rivers
Ahmed Hossam Saafan
Construction contractor(s)
Hossam Araby
Energy efficiency consultant(s)
Carsten Reichelmann
Additional information
In terms of the environment, the building aims to retranslate the architectural footprint in the area by introducing new ways of using local materials to create more quality spaces for the residents. This is illustrated by the use of corrugated metal on the elevations as well as using wood in the interiors and lime finish for the walls. In the southern elevation the wall consists of 25CM masonry, 10cm air gap, and 10CM sandwich panels. The finish layer on the sandwich panels are bright yellow to increase sun reflectivity and giving a welcoming aura to the street as for the interior are the lime finish to allow the walls to breathe. These are intended to reduce the heat gain inside the building as well as giving privacy to the users of the building on the street side. Moreover, some strategies include the development of a living wall that is fabricated from recycled advertisement banners and UV resistant tarp, the living wall aims to provide a natural input within the space for the whole section of the building that would later work as an air-purifying, sound insulating and heat reducing element. The living wall takes on a water circulation system in which the intake is recycled by the pump into the barrel and to the pockets for sustainable water use. On the other hand, the building focuses on implementing environmental feats whilst preserving a design aesthetic and functionality for the visitors and the people of the area. In one instance the art studio windows aims at bringing the sunlight in the space whilst also breaking some of its heat through extending the window frames to the outside, this on one hand provides adequate sunlight to the space but on the other hand gives a playful variation for the people inside and a nice urban experience for the people outside. Other strategies focus on allowing natural ventilation to cross over through the building by putting suction windows throughout the whole southern direction of the project whilst widening the northern openings for maximum air flow. This is illustrated on the window in the theatre floor as well as the separator windows in all the spaces on the third floor. In addition to the latter, primary design decisions were taken into consideration for future sustainability implementations, this is illustrated in the slope of the roof to give a generous space inside on one hand and to orient itself more to sun exposure on the other for the future application of solar panels. On the other hand, a wind catcher is intentionally set to be installed in the duct rising from the theatre space to allow further air flow, as the experimentation nature of the building. The building aims to become a living agent within its context which means it will be grow over the years and develop itself into a self-sustaining model that could be ultimately repeated in other forms. In terms of the people, the building aims at creating an interactive platform for the residents of Ezbet Khairallah, the choice of color and geometry was intended to strike a certain notion of expression, invitation and renewal. This is illustrated throughout the building in which the northern elevation was designed to target the urban spectrum of Ezbet Khairallah, in which it appears to be nested within the different habitations. The yellow corrugated metal elevation gives a landmark aesthetic to the area, which can be referenced as a way finding element as well as concealing within the wood workshops that are existent in the area. Moreover, the southern elevation speaks of a more intimate nature, small openings with playful windows instigate interactivity with the children as well as the neighbors. On the other hand, the reflectivity of sunlight plays a role in delivering the sun for residential buildings that are in shade through the whole year round. The Centre doesn't operate at night, which helps to save energy via the limited usage of artificial lighting. Finally, in terms of the client, given the nature of activities that are performed within the framework of Dawar. The interior spaces aims to give a seamless notion for the visitors in which the participant could stand out, this is illustrated through the use of natural seamless elements such as wood, lime finish, and metal. This is shown immensely in the theatre space in which the determinant factor is the wooden floor, the white lime walls and the wooden cornices. This creates a cool, open, generous space for theatrical and healing activities, which is an essential part of Dawar’s program.

Building Rating and Certifications systems

Rating and certifications systems
Not applicable

Building Envelope

External walls

Description of construction
External Walls (southern): U value: 1.09 W/(m²*K), 2CM lime finish, 25CM masonry red brick, 10CM air gap, 10CM sandwich panels. External Walls (northern): U value :3.29 W/(m²*K) , 2CM lime finish, 12CM masonry red brick, 1MM corrugated metal sheet


Roof type
Double Pitch Roof
Description of construction
10cm econ sandwich panels, 5cm recycled wood (pending), rain water drain gargoyles on edges, steel frame as per structural specs, frame member fixed to existing concrete columns.

Openings and windows

Glazing type
Single glazed
U-Value glass
5.8 W/(m²*K)
G-Value glass
Frame material / description
massive wood
Description of construction
wooden fame single glazed window with alternating sills according to fenestration dimension and us

Technical Building Systems

Ventilation system

Type of ventilation
Free ventilation (windows)

Lighting system

Primary lighting system
Classical incandescent lamps

Shading devices

Type of shading system installed
Static (fix) shading systems as part of the building architecture (e.g. Maschrabiyya, porch roofs, pergolas)
Protruded wooden Window Frames

Final Energy Demand

Energy carrier (1)

Financial Aspects

Project construction cost
32000 EUR
Estimated costs of energy efficiency and renewable energy measures
10000 EUR
Financing sources
Financing/funding institution
Medico International