Athar Lina Initiative: Heritage as a Community Resource

Egyptian architect May al-Ibrashy presents her people-driven approach to architectural conservation.

June 5, 2023

Recorded on May 2, 2023.

Current Work is a lecture series featuring leading figures in the worlds of architecture, urbanism, design, and art.

In this video, architect May al-Ibrashy presents her work with the Athar Lina Initiative (“the monument is ours”), a collaboration between Megawra, an Egyptian nonprofit architectural office, and the Built Environment Collective (BEC), a local cultural and urban development organization, to conserve and revitalize Cairo’s Al-Khalifa neighborhood. 

Al-Ibrashy details several of the initative’s projects, including creating economic opportunities for women through craft and design, solving the neighborhood’s groundwater problems through community gardens and urban farms, and creating an educational program to share Athar Lina’s lessons in historic preservation. 

The presentation is followed by a conversation with Randall Mason, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Weitzman School of Design. Al-Ibrashy and Mason discuss how an organization can make allies while not compromising on its values and vision, the challenges of working with traditional project success metrics, and the difficulty of presenting knowledge from the Global South in the face of ongoing crises.