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.


Download flyer here

Publication Workshop 1
Publication Workshop 2
Publication Workshop 3
Publication Workshop 4

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
(2019) Prof. Dr. Mohamed Nour, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Doaa Abouelmagd, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Ahmed Khaled
(2016-2018) Prof. Dr. Amal Abdou, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Ahmed Hosney, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Ahmed Abdelghany, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Iman Abdel Gawad


  • Annual Coordination meeting in Berlin, July 2016 
  • Excursion within the frame of Seminar Building communities through cooperative housing in Egypt (WS16/17)
  • Workshop 2 Alda(her)itage: An urban pespective (SS17)
  • Workshop 3 Alda(her)itage: Old buildings - New functions (WS17/18)
  • Workshop 4 Rediscovering Nile Delta: Hands on Earth and reed (SS18)
  • Workshop 5 Red Sea All inclusive (WS18/19)
  • Workshop 6 Urban intervention in Kreuzberg, Berlin
  • Annual Coordination meeting, Berlin (2016-2019)
  • Annual Training of Trainers for teachers from Helwan University (2017-2019)
  • Annual Berlin Study Trip for bachelor students from Helwan University (2017-2019)
  • Public lectures in Cairo
  • Mini workshops
  • Internships in Berlin and Cairo
Training of trainers course (ToT)+

For urban planning and design

In the frame of the cooperation project RealCityLab: Practice Orientation in Architectural Education, a 'Training of Trainers-ToT' course has been organized in Berlin, July 3rd -7th, 2017 for University teachers from the department of Architecture, Faculty of fine arts, Helwan university. New knowledge and teaching techniques were introduced to the participants. Those didactic techniques were introduced to be used in the teaching of urban related courses with the Egyptian students. 

This activity matches with the main objectives of the RCL project that aims at the Curricula enhancement of bachelor of architecture program at Helwan University, and the Capacity building for the professional skills of young staff through linking theories to real life cases. In addition, knowledge transfer as anobjective, targets the students as our end product, with knowledge from the German and international experiences and from practice about Core selected urban topics in the field of urban planning and design. 

RCL workshop

It consisted of 3 modules:

  • Module I: The Making a frame: Process oriented and participative thinking in city planning and teaching by Anne-Laure Gestering
  • Module II: Planning theory: reflecting approaches and roles of urban planners by Carsten Zehner
  • Module III: Coaching the coaches: Active learning – Introduction of a moderate constructivism approach in University education by Boris Laaser

The participants have attended some lectures with inputs from the instructors, in addition to excursions in Berlin through which they have visited several projects as examples related to the topics (e.g. the Gärtnerei, Prinzessinengarten, Tempelhofer Feld and Allmende Kontor). The activity was mainly based on interactive exercises to apply the tools that they have learned through out the course. This was accompanied by discussions that aimed at reflecting on their personal experience within the Egyptian context.

Organized by: TU Berlin - Habitat Unit. ToT Coordinators: Hassan Elmouelhi, Salma Khamis, Olga Bialczak.

Study Trip - Berlin Excursion: A City With Multiple Faces+

'Berlin city' has a long rich history of urban layers and architectural experiments that can be considered as an effective teaching laboratory for architecture and urban planning students.

In the frame of the RealCityLab: Practice Orientation in Architectural Education project, a group of 6 bachelor of architecture students – Helwan University – faculty of fine arts have joined a Study trip (Berlin) between the July, 3rd -7th, 2017. Enhancing the practical knowledge of architecture students has taken place on several levels through: guided visits, lectures, short workshops, provided by professors and experts from German academia and from the practice.

Our intention in this activity was to share in preparing the students as future architects with strong links to urban context in order to be able to create a sustainable and livable-built environments. Also to help them understand the urban regional level, socio-cultural issues besides to technical ones. This would help them to deal with the complexity of architecture and city issues through real examples from contemporary Berlin.


Some of the areas and projects that were visited by the students: Reichstag, Martin Gropius Bau, Museum of topography of Terror, Hansaviertel, Zoologischer Garten area, Gedächtnis Kirche, SILO City - ZKU Berlin Open Haus,  Holzmarkt (with Jens Körber) and Coop Housing Project- Spreefeld  (with Tarek Megahed), Jewish Museum.

At the end of the week, the students have attended a presentation by LPG Revisited Transforming Village Landscapes in Brandenburg studio work by bachelor students from TU Berlin (Habitat Unit).

Organized by: TU Berlin - Habitat Unit. Study trip Coordinators: Hassan Elmouelhi, Salma Khamis, Olga Bialczak.

Application for a Masters/ PhD Mobility Grant – Cairo, Egypt+

As a follow-up to the cooperation project RealCityLab: Practice orientation in Architectural Education, in cooperation with the Helwan University (HU) in Cairo, Egypt, and within the framework of Erasmus+, Habitat Unit (Chair of International Urbanism and Design) is glad to announce the following mobility grants in the fields of Architecture, Urban Design, and Urban Planning:

• 2 Mobility Grants for Master students:
- first grant between October 1, 2018 and March 31, 2019 (6 months), application deadline May 15, 2018
- second grant between March 1, 2019 and May 30, 2019 (3 months), application deadline June 1, 2018

• 2 Mobility Grants for PhD candidates: October 1, 2018 and December 31, 2018 (3 months), application deadline May 15, 2018

• 2 Teaching Staff: maximum 14 days, minimum 5 days (including travel days), application deadline June 1, 2018

Grant starts in September 2018:
• 1 Training Staff: 7 days (including travel days), application deadline June 1, 2018; the grant starts in November 2018

Erasmus + brings together existing EU programs for lifelong learning, youth and sport, as well as European cooperation programs in higher education. Erasmus + comprises three Key Actions (KA). The first key action involves promoting the learning mobility of individuals. Part of this key action is KA 107, which promotes mobility projects with partner countries.

• Application Form (see template)
• Terms and Conditions for Erasmus+ KA 107 scholars (see template)
• Copy of passport
• Copy of residence permit (if applicable)
• Motivation Letter (in English)
• CV (in English) – previous exposure to Egypt is preferred.

Funding Details:
• Grant: Students Outgoing (to Egypt): 650 Euro per month + Lump sum for travel (per grantee): 360 Euro
• Grant staff (teaching/training): 160 Euro/day.
• Minimum duration of student / staff mobility: 3 months / 5 days.

Master & PhD students of the TU Berlin can apply for a 3 or 6 months (Minimum duration of student mobility: 3 months, starting in October 2018). The host is Helwan University, faculty of fine arts. The application deadline is May 15, 2018, for those planning to travel in October. The initial information on Erasmus + KA 107 contains Information about the target group and scholarship amount. The required documents are listed in the application form.

Research topics of the applicants' thesis (master/PhD) should be closely relevant to Egypt, and should be clarified within the application process.
Please submit the written applications to Dr. Hassan Elmouelhi: elmouelhi@tu-berlin.de


Dr. Hassan Elmouelhi

Salma Khamis

Room A 622
T + 49 – 30 – 314 – 21908
F + 49 – 30 – 314 – 21907