Document Type : Original Article


Department of Architectural Engineering University of Menoufia Shebien El-Kom, EL-Menoufia, Egypt


The rise of groundwater in Cairo during the last two decades is threating the safety and durability of existing buildings. One of the major reasons
of this was filling most of the open water resources in Historic Cairo started from the first half of the 19th century, such as birkat al-Azbakkiyya,
birkat al-Fil and al-Khalij al-Masri canal. The urban transformation created by filling most of those water resources was the first step for the
substantial changes in the built fabric of the historical city, and marked climatic, environmental, and social changes.
Additional harmful consequence is the continuous unprecedented rise of groundwater that affects the foundations of historic buildings. The
rising dampness throughout the built historic fabric contributes in damaging the building systems and accentuates the state of the conservation of
many valuable monuments.
This study provides an assessment of water urban features in Historic Cairo prior to their filling and indicates through the survey of selected
monuments the groundwater effects on the built fabric. It proposes retrofitting approaches based on the control of the rising groundwater, its
collection and profiting from it. The paper investigates the possibility to channelling it in order to fulfil various needed purposes of which:
reintegrating water features in selected public spaces to enhance the climatic conditions of the historical city; reusing historic architectural
elements that were of particular value in the historic city such as cisterns and water tanks. Those approaches would contribute in the
regeneration of the historic city through the improvement of the qualities of the open public spaces, as well as to accentuate and help interpreting
some of its outstanding values. The study adopts a qualitative approach to demonstrate suitable models extracted from international examples to
be suggested to Historic Cairo.