Syntactic Stitching: Towards a Better Integration of Cairo's Urban Fabric

Eman Zied, Alice Vialard

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
33 Downloads (Pure)


This paper focuses on studying Cairo’s urban fabric, which is composed of a mixture of planned districts built by the government and private sector, and informal districts, self-generated to fulfil the needs of a rapidly expanding population. The case studies selected are continuous parts of the city that show variation in the urban fabric and a distinction between planned and informal districts. This paper argues that even though there is a high percentage of unplanned districts in close proximity to planned districts, the city as a whole functions and is connected. This indicates that there exists an underlying, naturally generated global structure, a super-grid, which can be used to better integrate between the different districts, both planned and informal (Peponis et al., 2015). The study will show variations between the selected districts in terms of emergence, morphology and syntactical structure. The study will analyse syntactically the selected districts as they currently exist both locally within the district and globally in the entire case study. A similar analysis was conducted on informal settlements in Santiago, Chile. One of the principle findings was that the more spatially integrated the existing settlement is on its edge boundary with the surrounding urban layout, in terms of vehicular movement and local accessibility, the higher the level of self-generated economic activity and community development (Hillier, Greene, & Desyllas, 2000). This paper aims to build upon that, by exploring ways in which the existing informal settlements can be better integrated with the surrounding urban form to benefit the entire community by harnessing the super-grid. The analysis indicates that the highway super-grid is based on the pre-existing canal system in Cairo, but it is incomplete and creates a boundary around informal settlements rather than becoming a connector. The analysis also indicates that the main roads in informal settlements have developed using the same canal system super-grid and that this can be used to reconnect them to the city. After the initial syntactical and morphological analysis of the existing fabric, different approaches to create ‘syntactic stitching’ between the districts are suggested following the previous analysis and underlying global structure. The focus is on adjusting the existing fabric, such as aligning existing streets, creating new thoroughfares to increase edge movement and consolidation into the main urban form.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 11th International Space Syntax Symposium
EditorsTeresa Heitor, Miguel Serra, João Pinelo Silva, Maria Bacharel, Luisa Cannas da Silva
Place of PublicationLisbon
PublisherInstituto Superior Técnico - Universidade de Lisboa
Number of pages2908
ISBN (Print)9789729899447
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2017
Event11th Space Syntax Symposium - Lisbon
Duration: 1 Jul 2017 → …


Conference11th Space Syntax Symposium
Period1/07/17 → …


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