Cairo Since 1900:
An Architectural Guide
The city of a thousand minarets is also the city of eclectic modern constructions, turn-of-the-century revivalism and romanticism, concrete expressionism, and modernist design. Yet while much has been published on Cairo’s ancient, medieval, and nineteenth century architectural heritage, the city’s modern architecture has to date not received the attention it deserves. Cairo since 1900: An Architectural Guide is the first comprehensive architectural guide to the constructions that have shaped and continue to shape the Egyptian capital since the early twentieth century.
From the sleek apartment tower for Inji Zada in Ghamra designed by Antoine Selim Nahas in 1937, to the city’s many examples of experimental church architecture, and visible landmarks such as the Mugamma and Arab League buildings, Cairo is home to a rich store of modernist building styles. This 410-page volume includes 330 illustrations and is organized into 17 geographical areas, comprising entries for 226 buildings and sites of note, each entry consisting of concise, explanatory text describing the building and its significance accompanied by photographs, drawings, and maps. This pocket-sized volume is an ideal companion for the city’s visitors and residents as well as an invaluable resource for scholars and students of Cairo’s architecture and urban history.
Published by the American University in Cairo Press with foreword by Mercedes Volait. Book design by Ahmad Hammoud.
Available globally, order on Amazon or at a bookstore near you.
“The Egyptian capital, for too many visitors, is a bewildering urban fabric to be traversed in search of antiquity, circum-navigated to reach the pyramids of Giza, or bisected rapidly to reach historic mosques. Yet to the trained eye sprawling Cairo’s modern fabric spells out the fascinating history of twentieth-century Egypt. Scholarly and user-friendly at the same time, this indispensable guide is a veritable Rosetta stone for decoding the various languages in which the quest for modernization and identity was expressed in concrete, steel, brick, and stone.”
―Barry Bergdoll, Columbia University, MoMA
"Cementing Cairo’s place in history"
―The National, U.A.E
"Cairo since 1900: An Architectural Guide not only fills an immense gap in the architectural history of the region, but also makes a much-needed intervention into the history of global modernism. The urban fabric of this cosmopolitan and vibrant city is described in rich detail, with information on the architects as well as the patrons who gave shape to it. It will serve as an essential guide to understanding, visiting, and studying modern Cairo."
―Kishwar Rizvi, Yale University
"The abundant architectural production which has dotted Cairo since the early twentieth century with dozens of remarkable structures has never been thoroughly documented. This guide is a revelation and will help, thanks to its clarity and precision, both locals and visitors to discover the astonishing buildings which have crystallized the modernization of Egypt's capital."
―Jean-Louis Cohen, New York University Institute of Fine Arts
"An incredible undertaking that serves as an incontestable account of the city"
―Architectural Digest Middle East
"Cairo since 1900 is a timely addition to our appreciation of Cairo's urban fabric. With meticulous research and beautiful photographs, Elshahed offers us a unique survey of the city's modernist architectural gems."
―Khaled Fahmy, University of Cambridge
"[A] call to arms, a rallying cry to take another look at the everyday fabric of this richly layered city."
―The Guardian, Oliver Wainwright
"[T]he book was also written as a call to arms to save an architectural heritage that is under threat"
―Pin-up Magazine, Andrew Ayers
"Beautifully designed, as elegant and functional as many of the buildings it documents"
―Al-Fanar Media, Ursula Lindsey
"Cairo Since 1900 is not only a documentation of the city’s architectural production. . . it’s also a call to action."
―Architectural Digest Middle East, Rima Alsammarae
"Cairo Since 1900 is the first architectural guide to Cairo’s modern architecture."
―The Maydan, Shaimaa S. Ashour
"[E]xtraordinary and unreservedly recommended"
―Midwest Book Review, The Architecture Shelf
About the Author
Mohamed Elshahed is a curator and architectural historian focusing on modernism in Egypt and the Arab World. After undergraduate studies at the College of Architecture and Design (NJIT) he earned his Masters from MIT’s Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture and a PhD from NYU’s Department of Middle Eastern Studies. His work spans architecture, design and material culture. He is the curator of the British Museum’s Modern Egypt Project and Egypt’s winning pavilion, Modernist Indignation, at the 2018 London Design Biennale. In 2019 Apollo Magazine named him among the 40 under 40 influential thinkers and artists in the Middle East. In 2011 he founded Cairobserver.com with six printed issues of the magazine by the same name, distributed for free in events in Cairo, Beirut and Dubai which aimed to stimulate public debates around issues of architecture, heritage and urbanism in the region. Mohamed was the Spring 2020 Practitioner-in-Residence, Hagop Kevorkian Center for Near Eastern Studies at NYU. He is a 2023 Paul Mellon Senior Visiting Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in Visual Arts at the National Gallery in Washington DC, and is 2023-24 fellow at the Columbia University Institute for Ideas and Imagination in Paris.
Inside the Book
October 1, 2021 - March 12, 2022
Cairo Modern showcases works by Egyptian modernists from the 1920s to the 1970s, half a century of rich architectural production that complicate our present understanding of global modernism. The exhibition introduces audiences to key architects from the period such as Sayed Karim (pictured) as well as examples of their works commissioned by the state and the city’s burgeoning bourgeoisie. Modernism in Cairo reflected the aspirations of the new classes that formed after Egypt’s 1919 Revolution who embraced the Modernist house or apartment as the materialization of new notions of class, identity, and modernity.
Curator: Mohamed Elshahed
Exhibition Designer: Rami Abou-Khalil, AIA, RAIC
Graphic Designer: Ahmad Hammoud