Cairo Financial Centre may face yet another redesign

The developer behind the US $160 million (EGP 900 million) Cairo Financial Centre (CFC) could be forced to redesign the project for the third time after the most recent design was rejected by Unesco.

UNESCO fears that the aesthetic value of the Salahuddin Citadel World Heritage site could be affected by construction of the CFC.
UNESCO fears that the aesthetic value of the Salahuddin Citadel World Heritage site could be affected by construction of the CFC.

The developer behind the US $160 million (EGP 900 million) Cairo Financial Centre (CFC) could be forced to redesign the project for the third time after the most recent design was rejected by Unesco.

Unesco rejected the design on the basis that it could potentially harm the aesthetic value of the nearby Salahuddin Citadel World Heritage site.

The group has recommended changes to project developer Alkan Holdings, including scaling back the five-star hotel by five or six floors, and changing the raw materials used in construction and the building's colour.

Work on the project stopped in June 2006 when the original designs were rejected.

Speaking to Construction Week, Veronique Dauge, Middle East inspector, Unesco said: "Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) asked us to look into it, so we got all the plans and working drawings together and in July this year the World Heritage Committee recommended that the project be revised to reduce its impact on the urban landscape. This was confirmed by a letter from the director of the centre."

Discussions between the CFC and SCA have been ongoing since 1998 and the case was brought to Unesco's attention to try to resolve the issue. Unesco made its recommendations and the SCA has agreed to adhere to them.

But CFC has defended its stance, saying that it is well within its rights to develop in the planned area, which it claims falls out of the world heritage site jurisdiction and does not impact on the citadel. "Firstly, the law says that it may not grant permits for construction at archaeological sites that extend 3km into areas inhabited by others, but the CFC project falls under the rubric of populated areas permission, therefore this rule does not apply," said Khaled Nassar, general director of the CFC.

"The project is located outside the boundary of the campus archaeological castle and also outside the scope of the Islamic Cairo map established by the SCA."

Nassar added that the new design preserves the natural beauty of the area and has followed the recommendations as far as possible to suit Unesco's requirements.

This is the second time that Unesco has asked for changes and it is now waiting to hear back from CFC.

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