The gardens in this project are often temporary and occur in a playful way such as a parade of paper flower heads descending on Lala Square. Cardboard, we realised, was the least intimidating material. As the children built the model with us, they began telling stories about the nooks and crannies of their neighbourhood, about movies shot, oral history and urban legends. Our space became like a small archive of the city, heightening our sense of belonging to it. and by extension our sense of responsibility towards it. Between 2017- 2020 Bureau LADA, CILAS (Cairo Institute of Liberal Arts and Sciences), Doha Ibrahim, Aghathon Mories, Sara Radi (DAS) and Holger Gladys collectively concocted the garden trajectory, dwelling on the notions of ‘social ecology’ and ‘living heritage’ within Fatimid Cairo. The project is made possible by the Resilient and Inclusive Cities grant conceived and generously funded by the Dutch Creative Industries Fund.
محاولين تحدي المفهوم التقليدي لما يمكن أن تكون عليه الحديقة، وما يمكن أن تفعله، انخرطنا مع المجتمع المحيط بدرب اللبانة. ولأننا كنا وافدين جدد إلى الحي، سمح لنا المشروع بالتعرف على سكانه. كان «عرض متجر الزهور» تجربتنا الأولى. جئنا بزهور ورقية كبيرة الحجم في الساحة (ساحة مسجد لالا)، وعرضناها في كشك ضيق مع تقديم شاي الكركديه للجيران. كان للشاي المثلج دور أكبر بكثير من مجرد كسر الجليد المجازي بيننا وبين جيراننا، إذ سمح لنا بتبادل الأفكار وتسليط الضوء على الإمكانات التي يخبئها الحي. أدى إحياء ذلك الكشك المهجور، وإن كان إحياءً مؤقتًا، إلى إثارة التفاعل وأظهر بوضوح كيف نشأ شعور بالثقة بين شباب الحي.
Challenging the traditional notion of what a garden can be and do, we engaged with the surrounding community of Darb el Labannah. As newcomers to the neighbourhood the project allowed us to get acquainted with its residents. A ‘flower shop performance’ was our first experiment. We paraded oversized paper flowers down the saha (Lala Mosque’s plaza) and exhibited them in a narrow kiosk while sharing hibiscus tea, karkadeh, with the neighbours. The iced tea did more than break the figurative ice between us and our neighbours.
Our studio started receiving more and more visits. We were in the process of building a giant model of the neighbourhood with recycled cardboard boxes supplied by a neighbouring shop. Building a model is always challenging and exciting. Kids from the area started passing by, and wanted to help. The choice of the material made it easy for them to handle and cut it. Cardboard, we realised, was the least intimidating material. As they built the model with us, they began telling stories about the nooks and crannies of their neighbourhood, about movies shot, oral history and urban legends. We collected images, stories, movies, and exhibited the timeline on the wall behind the model. Our space became like a small archive of the city, heightening our sense of belonging to it. and by extension our sense of responsibility towards it.