SOM to design new Egyptian capital city

Architect firm Skidmore, Owings & Merill says new Capital Cairo will strengthen and diversify Egypt’s economic potential

SOM will design the Capital Cairo project.
SOM will design the Capital Cairo project.

US-based design firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM) says Egypt’s new $45bn capital city will be designed and built to meet the needs of a modern city with a burgeoning economy.

Announced during the Egyptian Economic Development Conference held in Sharm El Sheikh, the Capital Cairo project is a collaborative effort between Egyptian Ministry of Housing and Capital City Partners Ltd, a private fund of global investors with input from SOM.

Led by Phillip Enquist FAIA, Partner in Charge of SOM’s City Design Practice, Daniel Ringelstein, Director of Urban Planning in SOM’s London office, and George J. Efstathiou FAIA, RIBA Consulting Managing Partner, SOM city planners developed the initial framework and core principles of a sustainable new city. Designed in harmony with the local environment and shaped by the natural landscape, the vision for this new city was created to specifically meet the needs of a modern city with a burgeoning economy.


 The new city will alleviate pressure on Greater Cairo’s struggling infrastructure. The city’s population is expected to double by 2050, which will bring the Egyptian capital to a grinding halt.

Around a third of the 700km2 new Capital Cairo project will be set aside for preserved natural areas and one of the largest city park systems in the world, and the new city will be linked to historic Cairo through extensive public transit links. The city vision allows for flexibility to respond and adapt to the regional economic trends over the course of many decades, and the vision has been carefully planned to accommodate a growing population, from over seven million people across all income groups, when fully realised.

“While we are at the earliest stages of design, the new city will be built on core principles that include places of education, economic opportunity and quality of life for Egypt’s youthful population,” said Philip Enquist. “The new city will be designed and built in harmony with nature as a showcase of environmentally sensitive development.”

SOM says the site is defined by wadis and a unique topography, which will be preserved and enhanced for future generations. The future city will be compact in urban form and anchored by concentrated development districts, including – a central business district, a government administrative district, a cultural district, a knowledge and innovation district, and over 100 diverse residential neighborhoods.

“The Capital Cairo complements the national vision for an Egyptian renaissance. This is a rare opportunity for the people of this vibrant nation to express and build their aspirations of a better life for all,” said Daniel Ringelstein, SOM City Design Practice Director. “The future city will strengthen and diversify Egypt’s economic potential by creating attractive new places to live, work and welcome the world.”

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