Rosetta: Documentation of Registered Houses and Proposals for city revitalization

Port Said: Contemporary Architectural Heritage Identification and Registration

Luxor Threat Identification and Risk Analysis



(Phase (1) 2004-2005 / Phase (2) 2007-2008):

A workgroup‌ was created through an Italian-French-Egyptian initiative composed of the schools of Bari and Paris Belleville and EAIS (now GIS Center) in Cairo in 2004. The project in Rosetta was divided into two main parts: 1) Protect and evaluate the heritage of Rosetta by giving the Ottoman house an active role within the organization of the town and (2) to restore to the town an urban face representative of its past by elaborating on different intervention projects.

An urban study of the town was conducted through a series of diagnostics (planning, inventory, allocation of the buildings). This study resulted in two propositions for urban interventions: one for the town’s central coach and microbus station and surrounding area, where suggestions were made to reallocate these facilities to an area outside the town’s center. The other along the corniche, where it was proposed that the ship making industry remains in its location and the corniche is turned into an esplanade and an area for leisure.

This work was continued by a team of four students from DESS de Paris Belleville, who worked with EAIS in Cairo for two months during the summer of 2005. The importance of documentation in Cultural Resource Management (CRM) was stressed and proposals for how to preserve the unique buildings in Rosetta after documentation and registration were elaborated alongside long term plans for their management. Their work included CRM proposals for the city, a recommendation for each building for possible rehabilitation projects, and a proposal for the rehabilitation of al-Amasyali house as a music center.

Three years later, in 2008, the results of this project and additional work done by the GIS Center archaeologists was published in the book Historical Monuments of Egypt: Rosetta through an EU grant administered by the European Commission in Egypt.  



This activity was initiated in 2004 as a joint venture between the EAIS project (now GIS Center) and the Ecole de Chaillot, a French institution concerned with architecture and the study of historical buildings, with the participation of Alliance Française and EUROMED. Port Said was selected because of its unique colonial architectural heritage and a main objective was to raise the awareness of the authorities of the devastating effects the loss of this heritage would entail. 

Today, the historical urban city centre is being irreversibly changed by unchecked demolition and building. Many of the buildings are in a poor state of preservation and careful restoration is needed to preserve the wooden balconies, facades and other architectural elements.

An inventory of the central part of Port Said started with an Egyptian-French team visiting Port Said in May 2004 for three weeks. The main goal of this phase was to:

  • Continue the work started in December 2003 by "Citeres EMAM"; a team from a French research center specializing in modern architecture in the Mediterranean, to identify and locate buildings with significant value. 
  • Propose a project of restoration and re-use of an old caravanserai (wakala), located on one of the oldest small islands, now threatened by demolition.
  • Propose protection regulations to preserve the valuable buildings and control random constructions in the future.

The main role of EAIS, acting as the representative of the SCA, was to assist the team in their surveying work and to establish communication channels with the local authorities (governorate and local SCA authorities (Taftish) and active inhabitants concerned with the preservation of the local heritage. 

The inventory produced around 350 individual datasheets, one for each house, combining the address, previous and current occupation, number of floors and one or more photos from different angles. In addition, these buildings were also located on cadastral maps as a first step to add them in EAIS's GIS. In addition, EAIS compiled a list of the valuable buildings that are threatened and need urgent registration, based on the consultation of the French team, local Taftish and members of local independent associations.

As a direct result of this case study, it was possible for EAIS to produce reports to the SCA Secretary General, effectively stopping the demolition of two very important buildings in Port Said; Simon Arzt and Al-'Abbasi Mosque; Al-'Abbasi Mosque has now been registered and Simon Arzt is still surviving, waiting an official decision.  

View Port Said's photo gallery


In 2004, EAIS started a project of risk assessment and analysis in Luxor. Apart from the pyramids at Giza, Luxor is probably the most famous archaeological site in Egypt, with a landscape dotted with temples and tombs. Despite being on UNESCO's World Heritage List since 1979, the archaeological remains at Luxor are suffering from a large number of threats and are rapidly disappearing. High population pressure, expanding agriculture, irresponsible tourism, along with severe environmental problems mean that the future preservation of these sites is no longer is guaranteed.

A particular problem common to most sites in Egypt is the rise of the groundwater as a result of the Aswan High Dam and the subsequent increase of salts in the soil. This seeps into the stone, crystallizes, and effectively destroys the monuments. Measures have already been taken to protect parts of the monuments in Luxor, but the effects of salt are still all too visible on several structures on the east and west banks. 

A team from EAIS spent several days in Luxor, filling out datasheets, taking GPS points and photographs, illustrating the general condition and threats of several archaeological sites in the area, including the perimeter of the Karnak temple, the sphinx avenue between Karnak and Luxor, the Ramesseum, and the Malqatah area on the west bank.

As a result of this work, EAIS created several maps outlining the main threats to the archaeological remains on the east and west banks, creating such risk categories as high water table, destructive vibrations, garbage and visual pollution. The study was divided into two parts; (1) the extended macro-level of analysis and (2), the micro-level when a site or part of a site is examined in more detail. This allows for flexibility in handling the data which can be manipulated in a number of ways.

During the development of the activity, it became clear that it would not be possible to use the official maps as backgrounds for the risk assessment. The official maps are outdated, most of them without updates since the 1950's, and they do not reflect the current urban and agricultural expansion in the area. Eventually it was decided to use Quickbird Satellite images from 2005, chosen for its high level of detail. The layering of various levels of threats creates a simple yet effective way of showing the dangers that these sites are facing. The maps created have been exported as wall maps in order to disseminate the results to various stakeholders and the SCA.

In addition to improving protective measures of the monuments in Luxor, a main objective was to develop a methodology of risk assessment to be used on other sites in Egypt.  

View Luxor's photo gallery

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