All images courtesy of Hand Over

Egyptian architects use rammed earth techniques for Abu Galoum project

Designed and constructed by Cairo-based practice Hand Over, the Blue Hole diving site now features new structures made of natural stone and wood.

The Cairo-based design and build company, Hand Over, which specialises in delivering cost-effective and environment-friendly building solutions using natural and local materials, has recently completed a coastal project in Egypt’s Abu Galoum protectorate. Called Blue Hole, the diving site required admin facilities, toilet facilities, ticket rooms and an entrance, as well as urban furniture, including seating, sheds for the divers and interpretative signage along the site for wayfinding.

Commissioned to design and build all aspects of the project, Hand Over applied rammed earth techniques with stone footing, and used natural stones and wood for the structures, all of which were locally sourced. A finishing layer of acacia and oil was applied to the walls to preserve their surfaces. According to Radwa Rostom, founder and CEO of Hand Over, “These techniques are durable, and have been tested in ancient and modern buildings alike”.

The project site is divided into three main building zones: the entrance facility, dry toilets, and the administration building. And integral to the project was the enhancement of the visitor experience, hence, throughout, information and instruction boards have been placed, as well as shaded structures and resting spaces.

“We worked on several elements in parallel to shorten the time schedule of the project,” said Rostom, who began working on the project in April 2018. “We started with the three main buildings, and then we worked on the urban furniture. The road leveling was the last part to be executed.”

The Blue Hole diving site, owned by the Ministry of Environmental Affairs and funded and managed by UNDP – Egypt’s Strengthening Protected Areas Financing and Management Systems Project, was completed in February 2020.