Wednesday February 21st, 2024
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Naom Shebib’s Cairo Tower: An Emblem of Egyptian Modernity

Eight million mosaics cover the tower’s diamond exterior, which opens up at the top into a lotus flower.

Karim Abdullatif

It would be difficult to name a more iconic structure in Cairo’s skyline than the Cairo Tower. Located on Gezira Island, the building acts as both an observation deck offering panoramic views of the city and an emblem of its modern history.

Having already designed two skyscrapers in Egypt, which allowed him to gain the title of Egypt’s ‘Father of Skyscrapers’, Egyptian architect Naoum Shebib was tapped to build a tower symbolising modern Egypt in 1954. Born to a Melkite Greek Catholic family, Shebib was known for his achievements as an architect, a structural engineer and an entrepreneur, whether it’s by erecting housing projects all over Cairo or creating innovative concrete shells used in cinemas and churches alike.

As he designed and built the Cairo Tower, Shebib relied on pure and simple lines, abstaining from the use of any surface decorations, aside from the eight million small mosaics that cover the tower’s diamond-shaped exterior, which elongate as they move upwards. At the top, they open up and mimic a lotus flower, one of the most culturally and religiously significant symbols of ancient Egypt.

Cairo Tower was officially opened in 1961, becoming the world’s highest reinforced concrete tower at the time, with a main entrance covered in polished pink granite from Aswan and a revolving restaurant and belvedere that offer sweeping views of the city.

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