Author : Ashkan Sadeghi

University : Architectural Association School of Architecture

Status : RIBA II, 2013

Advisors : Jonas Lundberg, Andrew Yau

Title : Vertical Reclamation

The Project describes an elevated city extending along the Suez Canal in Egypt. This Architectural apparatus consists of a continuous structure of ultra lightweight urban masonries, Cantilever and canopies.

The [Suez Canal] is an important geographical checkpoint, as it is an alternative route that connects far Asia to Europe directly, eliminating the need of navigating around the African continent to traverse from one point to another. The canal lies on the border of the African and Asian continents and it divides the region into two dissonant ecological conditions. The western aspect of the region (Africa) mimics the Nile River biome and has been cultivated for five thousand years. The Canal, however, interrupts the migration of populace from one side to the other, as well as the development of agriculture on the Asian side of this domain. Therefore, a large portion of this territory has been left in an arid and unused condition.

This fertile area on the banks of the Suez Canal is reclaimed territory. According to the Egyptian environmental affairs agency (EEAE) land reclamation in this region has decreased massively. This, coupled with the low availability of drinking water in this region due to pollution and high salt contamination, has created vast tracts of land devoid of local economies, and crippled by limited settlement and agriculture.

This project proposes vertical land  [r e c l a m a t i o n]. This land reclamation takes advantage of the local availability of sand as the material primer for the vertical construction of the city. The solidification of the sand brick is achieved by introducing latex as a binding agent. Latex can be either be produced locally as a petroleum by-product or it can be shipped by sea on container ships that have pre-existing routes to the area, thus incurring a limited to almost no carbon footprint for the production of this brick.

As there is also no additional input of energy required to the brick solidify, the material’s energy input is further diminished thus rendering it virtually a zero carbon material. Although the brick is constructed from a seemingly light material; it has a high thermal mass. This lightness notably contributes to its dimensions as it can be produced in much larger sizes, allowing for the construction of monumental cantilevers that require a minimised footprint for structural integrity to be achieved. This allows for a minimised impact of the constructed entity on the datum of the ground plane freeing this up for agricultural cultivation and subsequently reorients the local urban datum as being the vast expanse of area created on the roofs cape engendered by this project.


With a decreasing availability of water and increasing demand for it, some have predicted that clean water will become the “next oil”. Some argue that whilst oil has been a principal cause of regional economic growth, adequate water supply has been a product. A key problem of modern water resources management in Egypt is the imbalance between increasing water demand and limited supply.

This project answers that need by proffering both a [vertical expansion], that provides an infrastructure that instigates a highly efficient cybernetic loop integrating water use, and land reclamation with an in increased agricultural productivity coupled with a horizontal expansion that serves by increasing the existing agricultural area and housing provision. The entirety of this initiative is dependent on ameliorating the limitations on its water resources and ground condition that Egypt currently faces.

The limitations placed on water supplies has a direct impact on local agriculture, thus forcing Egypt to be dependant to some degree on imports to feed its own populace. This increase in demand has created a growing pressure on Egypt’s food supply and traditional farming regions, and in particular the Nile Delta. These factors have created in an interest an alternative agricultural development in the desert intensifying. The rising demand for resources and rising food prices are also a contributing factor in making this initiative more attractive to private investors as desert agriculture by its nature is a capital-intensive initiative. Resource management coupled with the need to reduce the impact of increasing population on existing conurbations, means that Egypt needs to increase its housing provision.

The autopoietic system instigated by this project aims to exploit the opportunities engendered by the local and global conditions to connect the Egyptian populace and market to its global counterparts through the expression of a new architectural typology which is embedded in the local condition but responsive to global needs.