CLUSTER was invited to participate in the Thematic Exhibition for the upcoming Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism (SBAU) 2019. Focused on the question of cities, and architecture as an active participant in their construction, the biennale tackles the overarching theme of ‘Collective Cities’, seeking to present both built projects and research that rethink, reclaim and interrogate the city as a collective project.
The projects presented by CLUSTER reflect episodes from eight years of practice in Cairo, negotiating public space in a time of transition: from a city in flux through a restoration of order. CLUSTER’s projects engage the question of urban informality in both the city center and in informal neighborhoods at its periphery. They range from critical mapping and action research to policy recommendations and tactical interventions, which directly engage with stakeholders and local communities. Furthermore, these projects illustrate a repositioning of the role of architects and planners, from form givers and placemakers, to negotiators between different state and non-state actors. During this time of transition in Cairo, architects and planners have come to act as facilitators of competing interests and frames of reference, in the absence of institutional forms of public participation.