Reflections on My Internship Experience at Takiyyat al-Gulshani in Historic Cairo
In November 2021, World Monuments Fund (WMF) launched a new phase in its project at the early sixteenth-century Takiyyat Ibrahim al-Gulshani complex in Cairo, Egypt, with support from the Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation and the U.S. Embassy in Cairo.
In this guest blog post, Nile University student Shaimaa Emad Ahmed reflects on her experience participating in the project’s new phase, working with consultant architect and urban researcher Dina Shehayeb, her staff, and three other students to develop a socioeconomic study of the Taht al-Rab market in front of Takiyyat al-Gulshani.
During the summer of 2021, I undertook a month-long internship with Dr. Dina Shehayeb, working on WMF’s project at Takiyyat Ibrahim al-Gulshani. There, I worked alongside a team of architects, researchers, and WMF coordinators to develop a better understanding of the historical, social, and economic dynamics existing within the sphere of the Takiya.
To understand these dynamics, I became part of a research team conducting a behavioral analysis of the context surrounding Takiyyat al-Gulshani. This included studying the flow of people, cars, and materials around the site, the neighborhood’s walkability, changes in the use of space and its functionality, and in public space appropriation over time. Our team received vast support from the community near al-Gulshani, which was very inspiring and motivating. During our daily observation trips, we were accompanied by al-Gulshani's tea stall owner and his daughters, who were very keen to teach us about every inch of the streets and introduce us to the community.
I also supported in-depth interviews conducted by Dr. Shehayeb with the main property owners near al-Gulshani, reflecting on the interview outcomes in blog posts. I then participated in the initial analysis and mapping that would document the dynamics surrounding al-Gulshani and opportunities for the site’s reuse, expressed by the community.
During my internship, I had the opportunity to work under supervisors from diverse backgrounds and profiles who inspired me greatly. Everyday meetings at the site office with the WMF team, interactions with the neighborhood community, attending a conservation and restoration seminar at the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization—all these experiences exposed me to various perspectives on Historic Cairo and the different meanings of the concept of "development" held by stakeholders.
It was very inspiring to have the opportunity to see how research-based designs can positively influence peoples' lives, and I hope to get a chance to see the project outcomes soon.
Shaimaa Emad Ahmed and her fellow students' work with Dr. Dina Shehayeb’s team to develop a socioeconomic study of the area surrounding Takiyyat Ibrahim al-Gulshani will help strengthen the involvement of the local community in the site’s future reuse, finding a sustainable solution for its conservation that promotes tourism and economic opportunity for all stakeholders, national and local.
This project has been supported, in part, by the U.S. Department of State through the Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation and the International Music and Art Foundation.