Renovation plans were drafted in 2012 for the Bab Saada Performing Arts Center by CLUSTER for client Al Mawred al-Thaqafi, to convert the disused Cinema Wahby into an independent performing arts space. Located in the heart of the historic neighborhood of al-Khalifa, sited below the Citadel and between Ibn Tulun and Sultan Hassan mosques, the art space would inject creative life into a culturally neglected section of the city, complementing the nearby performance space of Amir Taz Palace.
According to documents from the Department of Permits, Cinema Wahby opened as Cinema Sayfi in the 1940s as an open-air cinema before it was enclosed in later decades. Cinema Wahby is an example of a period when every neighborhood in Cairo had its local cinema. With the rise of home video in the 1980’s, attendance fell and scores of small cinemas closed in the early 1990s. In 1992 it suffered major structural damage as a result of an earthquake that hit Cairo. The project includes multiple performance spaces, including a large stage, rehearsal rooms, outdoor theatre, and cafe as well as necessary storage, technical and administration facilities.