CLUSTER — Cairo Lab for Urban Studies, Training and Environmental Research — was founded in 2011 in Downtown Cairo, as a platform for urban research, architecture, art, and design initiatives. CLUSTER engages critical discourse while being grounded in professional practice, with an emphasis on participatory design processes.

CLUSTER’s scope of activities includes research, mapping, design, programs and training. Previous design implementation projects range from Downtown and Cairo’s urban core to informal areas on its peripheries as well as a number of ongoing projects in Alexandria, Mansoura, Port Said, Amman, Beirut, Tunis and Tangier.

CLUSTER aims at establishing a space for critical urban discourse and design practice, negotiating the blurred boundaries between formal/institutional regulations and everyday urban informality.


  • Promoting a sustainable urban environment and a more diverse and accessible public space,
  • Investigating new approaches to informal practices that would generate alternative modes of urban development,
  • Developing a platform integrating art and culture as urban catalysts,
  • Establishing a networking hub, promoting interdisciplinary modes of practice that would bring together architects and planners, designers, artists and social scientists, to work with stakeholders and local communities,
  • Establishing a collaborative research framework, open to local and international universities and research groups, that offers research backup to groups and individuals in terms of resources and logistical support.