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The hybridized Home: Unveiling in Cairo’s Necropolis

Natalie Harper



Sarah De Villiers, Dr. Huda Tayob, Naadira Patel


18 - Hyperreal Prototypes


Exploring the ‘city of the dead’ a cemetery dating back to the 17th century, which has become “One of the biggest necropolises is located inside Cairo. It is unclear how many people are living in the tombs of their families. Underneath the earth, several rooms are found. Migration, expensive housing, and natural disasters drove entire families to move into these Mausoleums and generations to be born in these conditions. Unusual in their forms, these structures have more of a resemblance to small houses than tombs .This project looks into the understanding of homemaking in a queer site, the city of the Dead, Eastern Cemetery of Cairo.

The aims being:
• Unmasking the stigma behind tomb dwelling.
• Revealing the resemblance of the tombs to that of small houses.
• Investing how these “lifeless vaults” give livelihoods to the homeless/down-trodden.
By producing a series of prototypes that unmask, reveal and subvert the stigma of tomb-dwelling.

As the space dynamics of these mausoleums become hybridize, home-making takes course. “Perhaps home is not a place but simply an irrevocable condition.” (Baldwin 1956).

The project looks into the series of conditions that effect the people, i.e. Reasons behind this phenomenon, the grave difficulties they experience and ghosts of uncertainty. Research extends into the understanding of how these people adapt to the conditions whilst also making a livelihood. Some of the research methodology will include model-making, drawing along with practices of unmasking, transfer and resemblance of the conventional home. Whilst looking at ethnographic drawings and digital recreations as a way of creating an archive of prototypes that breathes life into the to the subsistence of the downtrodden of Cairo.