“GOLDEN CITY” LA MAISON D’EGYPTE IN PARIS
Student housing at la Cité Internationale Universitaire de Paris
The construction of a La Maison d’Egypte at La Cité Internationale Universitaire de Paris has to be an iconic project, an emblematic vector of the Egyptian culture. This culture is actually multiple: African, located on the Southern Coast of the Eastern Mediterranean Sea, the Levantine Basin, and linked to the Sinai Peninsula and the Red Sea. Although the official language of the country is dialectal Arabic, the Berber sixi-Tamazight is also spoken in Siwa and the inhabitants of Upper Egypt in Aswan’s province use Nubian language. This richness and multiplicity is due to an extraordinary past that was developed around the Nile Valley for nearly three millennia, a place that has witnessed the most brilliant civilization of humanity.
A building that unify all the Egyptian land.
To understand all those multiple identities, we need to go back in time and travel to Egypt’s predinastic period, when the land was inhabited by tribal lands and autonomous clans. They have progressively gathered and created the separation between Lower and Upper Egypt. Progressively, theses territorial rupture would become multiple Sepats, lately call Nomes by the Greeks.
This Nomes where the administrative districts of Ancient Egypt; Upper and Lower Egypt had a total of 42 Nomes registered until the Ptolemaic period. In these “provinces” there is, for example, the Nome of the White Wall (Memphis, Saqqarah), the Nome of Scepter (Thebes), the Nome of the Country of Nubia (whose principal cities are Philae, Elephantine, Kom Ombo), the Nome of the Fortress (Nekhen, El Kab) amongst others.The morphogenesis of the project of La Maison d’Egypte was born from this desire to embrace this complexity, to transliterate this multiplicity of territorial superpositions. By designing a project as a federation of these different identities, we aim towards a physical and symbolic representation of the 42 provinces of Ancient Egypt.
In consequence, our building is a solid superposition of 42 megalithic prefabricated blocks systems, a physical personalization of each of the Nomes of Ancient Egypt; a summary of the different territories federated into a single building, physical representation of an unique entity and the large panel of the Egyptian identity.
The concept is defined in a transversal way throughout the experience; Within this building, we aim to transliterate an interior territorial landscape where these provinces are represented and declined by their respective local crafts, various equipment, furniture, sculptures, decoration, lights, graphic identity, objects and paintings specific to the identity of each of the nomes. To increase these own identities, each nome will be provided with its own totemic emblem; falcon, crocodile, cobra, gazelle, sycamore, etc.We aim to comprehend La Maison d’Egypte not as a single building but rather as a functional superposition of territorial pieces, extra-large prefabricated blocks that aggregate and federate among themselves. “La Cité d’Or”, the Golden City is a definition of a new Egyptian identity, at the crossroads of ancient history and contemporaneity, towards a physical, mystical and timeless architecture. A journey through the regions and provinces of Egypt but also through time, where history and mythology merge with the most contemporary uses.
A mutation of Ancient Egypt’s typologies
We envisage a mutation of the Pharaonic era’s architectonic vocabulary; These constructive elements are fundamental components of our project, and they have been chosen for their constructive and symbolic forces in the history of this people. The entrance to La Maison d Egypte is happening through a central pillar three stories high. This monumental gate is characteristic of Egyptian temples, the emphasis of the threshold, the separation between two spaces, two eras. This entrance is framed by two moles, thick towers with a rectangular base surmounted by a cornice and a vast lintel, as is customary throughout ancient Egypt. The latter is slightly cantilever, so as to invite the user even more towards the entrance of the building. The embrasures of the moles forms a wide passage in which bas-reliefs, real contemporary hieroglyphs thought of two students facing each other, one one each side of the wall’s entrance, will be engraved on the golden mass. The tilted glass wall of the entrance wall is a contemporary transposition of the oriflamme; this inclined wall will also be one of the key parts of the building’s lighting. At the overall scale of the building, each monolithic block is surrounded by a straight line slightly overhanging from the dwellings to recall the Egyptian protodoric abacus.These blocks are contemporary interpretations of Naos, sacred structures set with gold. We wish to offer many Naos, by democratizing these “rooms of kings” as a present to the residents of the House of Egypt, ambassadors of a new generation of scholars.
An Eternal Sun
“In the Egyptian religion, Khépri is the first form of divine apparition distinct from the primordial chaos; It is the morning sun, a form of the Sun-god.” Encyclopedia Universalis
This overall strong concept creates an ultra contemporary relationship to its immediate context in architectural terms, climate issues, resilience and inclusion, and will sparkle the collective consciousness, while drawing on the roots of a new modernity.
Thus, this project marks the reconciliation of notions that seems to be antagonistics in the first place: the monumental and the fractional, the inheritance and the modernity, the mass and the evanescence.
- Client: Egyptian Embassy in France
- State: Private Competition invitation October 2019
- Program: 250 Student Housing I Embassy reception
- Surface; 5000 m²
- Budget: 14,6 M€
- Localisation: Cité Internationale Universitaire de Paris
- Team: Studio Malka Architecture principal architect, Associated Consultants, Mercier
Landscape architect, Laurent Garbit graphist, Betom Ingénierie, Alternative Acoustique, Sterling Quest Economistes