As one of the newest planned communities to form on the edge of Egypt’s congested capital, Cairo Festival City represents an opportunity for residents to reclaim some quality of life. Filled with residential and business districts; educational and recreational facilities; and a host of boulevards, parks and public spaces, the development promises a new standard of living for the country’s growing middle class. But it’s the highly anticipated indoor-outdoor shopping experience known as the Festival Centre that developers hope will become the real draw.
Designed by Hollywood-based firm 5+design, the 2.3 million-square-foot, multi-level Festival Centre was inspired by the urban model of European cities and villages. It incorporates pedestrian walkways, shopping arcades and central plazas, and overlooks the Festival Village, a collection of outdoor boutiques, restaurants and performance spaces. The Centre will be linked with the Village by the Promenade, a stepped streetscape with more shops and cafes.
Inside, the design team chose to play up elements from nature in each of the building’s distinct courts, which will be home to a number of anchor tenants. In the Sky Court, jewel-colored pendants cascade from an enormous skylight, casting ever-changing patterns across the floor below. In the Water Court, the sound of rain fills the air as water showers from the ceiling through rings of neon and stainless steel and into a reflecting pool. The Garden Court provides a botanical escape with greenery glowing under its clerestory windows, while the Light Court offers a cluster of whimsically oversized lanterns to brighten the mood in the absence of natural light.
The forms throughout the Centre are simple and neutral, allowing the storefronts themselves to be the dominant presence of the architectural vocabulary. “The language of the architecture is all about repetition and simplicity, mirroring the urban environment of Cairo and the methodology of construction in Egypt’s indigenous architecture,” says Michael Ellis, partner with 5+design.
The Festival Centre is scheduled to open later this year. For more information, visit www.5plusdesign.com.