The American University in Cairo 2008 - Cairo, Egypt | Completed
The AUC vision for its new campus was to create 100 years’ master plan to perform as a campus that attracts scholars all around the world. AUC adapted the liberal arts educational philosophy, and therefore the design of its new campus worked on embodying the philosophy in the physical built space. The design concept defined liberal arts as the search for the truth through multiple disciplinarians and not being stuck in one direction. Therefore, it took the model of the Al-Azhar mosque as an educational institute that has always attracted scholars from different places. AUC's master plan of the campus was inspired by the traditional/historical architecture of Cairo, in particular, Al-Moez street. Hence, the spine was not a linear one, but rather a spine taking different angles and directions that enhance the wind movement through the campus. Through spine branches, the schools’ buildings are oriented toward the north, all having internal courtyards. Creating a series of courtyards along the spine maximizes the flow of air in and out of the buildings. Following this vision, the stone was chosen as a durable material for the design following the stone structures of Ancient Egyptians in Aswan and Luxor. The campus has multiple high gates between the different schools as a representation of the high gates in Islamic architecture. Further translating this definition developed the main gate of the institution as a portal towards liberal arts and a pride of the intellectual sciences during the Islamic era. The portal imitates the entrances of Islamic mosques in which its dome was inspired by the dome of Córdoba. Conceptually the intersection of arches represents the multiple resources the AUC offers to its learners. The dome was lifted open to the sky to embody the AUC’s philosophy of liberal art education that what one can learn beyond the gate is limitless.