Art Deco Architecture in Cairo
Regional Surveys

This collection contains a sampling of Art Deco buildings in downtown Cairo, Garden City and Zamalek. The collection as a whole serves to illustrate various typological features, specificities and local expressions of Egyptian Art Deco architecture imported from Europe since 1924.

At the end of British protectorate with the proclamation of partial independence of the country in 1922, educational reforms appeared in the field of architecture and substantial numbers of architects were henceforth trained in Europe, above all in Paris, to meet the needs of the government. Simultaneously, a number of international design competitions were organized in Egypt in which European, mainly Italian, architects participated.

Concerning private architecture, major clients and patrons of the 1930s came from different cultural backgrounds. This cosmopolitan elite – French, English, Syrian-Lebanese, Armenian, Copt, Muslim, Christian – lived in new residential neighbourhoods such as Garden City and Zamalek. All those elements, creating continuing cultural exchanges, explain in part the presence and the typological diversity of Art Deco in Cairo and in Alexandria. Local architects from various origins and background offered various interpretations of Egyptian Art Deco design.

This collection is partial and offers an overview of 28 sites without drawings. Indeed, photographic documentation is limited for some of them due to the prohibition against photographing private residences. Nevertheless, the collection presents prototypes of Egyptian Art Deco, which was reinterpreted with traditional building methods such as stucco to create relief adornments and offer various interpretations of design.

by Lobna Montasser

Media and Documentation Officer

Aga Khan Trust for Culture

June 2016


"Biography - Antoine Selim Nahas | Architect," accessed June 16, 2016,

El-Wakil, Leila. "The Mediterranean DECO: from international models to national variations.”In: 2nd annual meeting of the Cost Action European architecture beyond Europe," Edinburgh, 11th February 2012. Accessed June 16, 2016, doi:

Iolitta, Otello. "Italian Participation in Design Competitions in Egypt.” In Environmental Design: Journal of the Islamic Environmental Design Research Centre 1-2, edited by Attilio Petruccioli, 40-45. Rome: Dell’oca Editore, 1997-1999. Accessed June 16, 2016, doi:

Liot D., Années folles, années d’ordre, l’Art déco de Reims à New York, Paris: éditions, Hazan, 2006.

"Raafat Samir, Cairo's belle époque architects 1900 – 1950," accessed June 16, 2016,

"Raafat Samir Garden City: A Retrospective Part 5," accessed June 16, 2016,

"Raafat Samir,Groppi Of Cairo, Cairo Times, June 15, 1996," accessed June 16, 2016,

Volait Mercedes, Architectes et architectures de l’Egypte moderne 1830-1950, Genèse et essor d’une expertise locale, Paris : Editions Maisonneuve et Larose, 2005.

Zaalouk M., "Les sources lointaines de l’Art Nouveau. In: D’Horus à Aïda," Paris : Le Courrier de l’Unesco, vol. 43, number 8.

Parent Collections