SOM to masterplan Egypt’s US$45bn ‘New New Cairo’

by Tom Anstey | 19 Mar 2015

In an effort to combat a failing economy that has plunged a quarter of its population into poverty, Egypt is planning to build a new US$45bn (€42.3bn, £30.6bn) administrative, business and leisure capital east of Cairo to house five million people.

Skidmore, Owings & Merrill's (SOM) Philip Enquist has been placed in charge of urban design and planning for the mega-development, which will be linked to Cairo through extensive public transit links’ and has been designed to be flexible enough to respond to the ‘regional economic trends over the course of many decades’.

"While we are at the earliest stages of design, the new city will be built on core principles that include places of education, economic opportunity, and quality of life for Egypt’s youthful population," said Enquist.

"The new city will be designed and built in harmony with nature as a showcase of environmentally sensitive development."

The plans by SOM include medium and high-density residential neighbourhoods with "vegetated wadis embracing natural breezes for passive cooling of buildings and city places". Each of these neighbourhoods will be built around a central community public space.

Speaking at a global investor conference set up by Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Housing minister Mustafa Kamel Madbuli said the new city would relieve pressure on overcrowded Cairo, with its population of 18 million expected to double over the next few decades.

The ambitious development plans will soon be underway, with the privately-funded Capital Cairo offering a new administrative centre, retail facilities, housing and tourist destinations to stimulate economic activity for the country, which has greatly suffered since the 2011 Egyptian Revolution.

The Capital Cairo masterplan is a mixed-use network combining residential, shops, cafés, schools, recreational areas, industrial zones and religious institutions. Egypt’s governing bodies and foreign embassies would be also relocated to the new city, branding it as an economic and political stronghold. Covering more than 270sq m (699.2sq km), the plan – which is focused on innovation and sustainability – will take five to seven years to develop.

Madbuli said the city would also include “an international airport, a theme park four times bigger than Disneyland in California, 90sq km (34.7sq m) of solar farms, and an electric train” which would link directly with Cairo.

At the conference, the masterplan gained financial pledges worth around US$4bn (€3.7bn, £2.7bn) each from the UAE, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, who have all been key investors in the Egyptian economy in the past 18 months. Private real estate investment fund, Capital City Partners, is leading the mega-development.

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In an effort to combat a failing economy that has plunged a quarter of its population into poverty, Egypt is planning to build a new US$45bn (€42.3bn, £30.6bn) administrative, business and leisure capital east of Cairo to house five million people. Skidmore, Owings & Merrill's (SOM) Philip Enquist has been placed in charge of urban design and planning for the mega-development, which will be linked to Cairo through extensive public
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The Capital Cairo masterplan has been developed by Capital City Partners / Capital City Partners
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