Habitat Unit

DAAD/BMZ, 2016 - 2019
Prof. Dr. Philipp Misselwitz, Dr. Hassan Elmouelhi, Salma Khamis

RealCityLab: Practice-orientation in architectural Education 

The main objective of this project is to enhance the education quality, the curriculum and the teaching system of the Architecture Bachelor program of Faculty of Fine Arts. New didactic tools and applied research components are developed for the bachelor of architecture program, which impart knowledge to understand the current urban issues and urban regeneration. Adding a strong orientation on practice and applied research to the existing curriculum that will lead the graduates to gain higher awareness towards real urban issues and urban regeneration.

In this context, urban areas and urban problems are defined in a very wide sense tackling not only formal cities and their various new, old or even protected neighborhoods but also considering all kinds of informal settlements, peri-urban areas or urban villages - rural areas are in a process of urbanization. By focusing on the urbanism issues within the Egyptian built environment, these real urban areas become the laboratories for architecture education and graduates in order that they can gain a higher awareness towards these problems. Many of these rural areas are on the process to get more than 10,000 inhabitants and thereby gaining the official right to become towns. These 'rurban' areas cover wide parts of Egypt especially in the densely populated Nile Valley or in the Delta region. Many of them still suffer from various problems like a lack of basic infrastructure, public space, proper housing and sufficient quality of construction. One among other reasons for this aspect is that Egyptian architects usually contribute to cities, while in rural areas the residents rely on contractors to build those houses. Therefore, we are willing to insert the development in rural / peri-urban areas into the curricula of architects as well.
Aiming to enhance these areas and to reach sustainable cities, social, cultural, economic, environmental, and management aspects have to be considered in an interdisciplinary teaching approach. This includes the understanding of the rural/urban context within the transformation process, the relation between urbanization and socio-cultural conditions, urban informality within rural urban areas, energy and infrastructure, local construction materials, low and high technology and mixing traditions and modernity in an integrated approach. 

Project Objectives:

- Activation, organization and evaluation, which includes activating the network of partners and associate partners for preparation, organization and coordination the program and refine the contribution plan of each.

- Knowledge Transfer, through which we provide the students with knowledge from the German experience and from practice in Egypt and Germany about: Core selected urban topics, environment, energy and technical urban infrastructure, vernacular Appropriate Architecture, in addition to Management and Governance.

- Enhancing the knowledge of architecture students will take place on several levels through lectures, short workshops and seminars provided by professors and experts from German university and experts from the practice. This includes lectures on urban planning and regeneration, urban informality, urban sociology, urban economy, management and governance, urban infrastructure (energy, mobility, waste, water and sanitation). Also learning about using new techniques of construction would contribute to the issue of affordable housing, matches to vernacular traditions, and fulfills environmental qualities.

- Capacity building and Practical Workshops, to improve the professional skills of students/young staff for the local job market through linking theories to real life cases (workshops/ summer schools/ training). The six workshops cover examples from urban and peri-urban or rural urban and thus the urbanization phenomena in a wide range and in different locations in Egypt. In order to assure sustainable transformation that bridges academia to practice, the newly introduced knowledge would not only open new horizons for the students, but would smoothly be transferred to the Egyptian university staff members by the end of the four years (2016- 2019). Both the students and the staff can therefore improve their professional skills for the local job market. They get prepared to work with local companies or international development agencies in fields related to Egyptian urban built environment.

- Curricula enhancement, which goes through the improvement of the current curriculum through working sessions with respective HU and TUB committees concerned with curriculum development. Steering committee has annual meetings planned to take place between the two teams, together with the business partners and other academic and practice experts from the field.

- Dissemination of the project outcomes and processes is also considered an important objective of our project. Sharing the experience with public, academics, practicing professionals, Egyptian and international society. Through public lectures, the knowledge provided by the lecturers would not only be transferred to the targeted bachelor of architecture students of faculty of fine arts – Helwan university, but also to students from other universities and disciplines, in addition to the public who are interested in these topics. The project documentation, and through monitoring and evaluation reports, published online on the website, would point out the obstacles and problems and ways of overcoming them when it comes to enhancing architecture education program in an Egyptian university, and considered as lessons learnt to be considered in future similar.


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The project is funded by German Academic Exchange Network (DAAD) and German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).


Academic partners +

TU Berlin, Campus El Gouna - Department of Urban Development
Prof. Dr. Rudolf Schäfer, Dipl.-Ing. Lukas Born

Helwan University, Faculty of Fine Arts, Department of Architecture (Main Partner)-Cairo Prof. Dr. Amal Abdou, Dr. Ahmed Hosney Radwan, Dr. Iman O. Gawad



Dr. Hassan Elmouelhi

Salma Khamis

Room A 622
T + 49 – 30 – 314 – 21830
F + 49 – 30 – 314 – 21907