Cosmopolitan Modern Egypt

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The purpose of this project is to study the patterns that may or may not be established between communautary belongings, spatial roots and architectural expressions in the context of cosmopolitan Modern Egypt (1850-1960). The three fields of the survey are:

  • Ordinary/common architecture in Suez channel cities  analyzed through private construction and  commercial activity and Egyptians and non-Egyptians institutional buildings.
  • Cairo center city architecture analyzed from historic and archaeological study of great residential complex (buildings and districts).
  • Entertainment areas in Alexandria (1850-1914) as material, diversity and sociability spaces specifics to Arabic cosmopolitanism.

In 2014 the analysis of textual and photographic material related to modern Cairo topography from the 2012 Max Karkégi donation to Bibliothèque Nationale (national library) was continued.

Based on this research material a monography of Cairo center city is to be published by IFAO editions Institut Francais d’ Archéologie Orientale (French Institute of Oriental Archeology).

 Mercedes Volait is also working on a eight articles file to be published in the 50th issue of Annales Islamologiques on the topic of « Architecture, cosmopolitanism and nation building in Modern Egypt ».

Under the direction of: Mercedes Volait (InVisu, Paris)

Collaborations: Claudine Piaton (architect, InVisu, Paris), Vassilis Colonas (architect, univ. of Volos), Ezio Godoli (architectural history, Firenze univ.), Juliette Hueber (document manager, InVisu, Paris), Angelos Ntalachanis (historian, post-doctorant, Paris-Est Marne-La Vallée univ.), Adam Mestyan (historian, post-doctorant, Society of Fellows, Harvard univ.).


Gaston de Saint-Maurice’s mansion in Cairo, at the end of works circa 1879. INHA’s library.


INVISU l'Information visuelle et textuelle en histoire de l'art, nouveaux corpus, terrains, outils
CNRS UAR 3103 | INHA Institut national d'histoire de l'art
2 rue Vivienne - 75002 Paris

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