The founding director of Tamayouz Excellence Award offers more information on the Rifat Chadirji Prize 2020.
This year’s Rifat Chadirji Prize, an annual thematic competition run by Tamayouz Excellence Award, calls on participants to submit designs for a living pedestrian bridge over the Nile River in Cairo, Egypt. According to the competition brief, the bridge should connect Midan Al-Tahrir to Al Zamalek, and re-imagine the public space of the Nile’s east bank. The solution should “offer a seed for new ways of life across Cairo,” it says, “and potentially other megalopolises across the world”.
With the submissions deadline for the competition coming up on 1 November, 2020, Round City speaks with the founding director of Tamayouz Excellence Award, Ahmed Al-Mallak, about the reasoning behind this year’s theme.
Read the brief for the Rifat Chadirji Prize 2020 here.
Why did you locate the competition in Egypt this year?
In 2019, the Rifat Chadirji Prize moved from being a competition that only responds to challenges in Iraq to a competition that responds to architectural, urban and social challenge across the Middle East. Egypt, and more specifically Cairo, was always a top destination in our mind for a competition due to its unique context. Any design challenge would be very interesting to designers due to many factors including the population of the city, its history, the river and its social life. Egypt is the perfect place for progressive and innovative design ideas.
What inspired the competition theme of a living pedestrian bridge?
The bridge, as a general structure, has not seen innovation in terms of function or typology since it became utilitarian and was erected solely to connect Point A to Point B (although bridges tend to be located in some of the most attractive spots of a city). For this reason, our competition asks participants to envision a bridge for the 21st century, where people come first. With this in mind, bridges would not look the same with innovation applied only to their structure and materials, but it would present a full revival of the idea of bridges.
Why is it important to have activated spaces along the bridge?
Spaces along the bridge would slow down pedestrians, encouraging them to enjoy their experience. Activation would also provide new places that trigger unique feelings, while also helping us reimagine bridges.
Why did you choose a site next to the Egyptian Museum? And why is it important to put another bridge here, close to the 6th October Bridge?
The pedestrian bridge will be between two bridges: the 6th of October Bridge to the north and Qasr El Nil Bridge to the south. Both of those bridges are very busy most of the time and they prioritise vehicles over pedestrians in terms of lane allocation. Thus, a pedestrian bridge would offer a new way of experiencing a walk over the great Nile.
How do you think this year’s theme of the Rifat Chadirji Prize compares to previous years?
This year’s theme has been very engaging with architectural communities worldwide: universities have enrolled their students and staff to compete, and design studios of various scales, as well as locals and foreigners alike, are participating. I think it has something to do with the chance to reimagine a very important structure on one the greatest rivers on earth.