Naoum Shebib
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The Cairo Tower, 1961

In 1954, Naoum Shebib, being the only architect to have built skyscrapers in Cairo, he was chosen by the Egyptian government to design and build a tower symbolizing modern Egypt.

Naoum Shebib acted as architect, structural engineer and main contractor. Works began in 1954, but, due to the Suez Canal war, were suspended for nearly three years, from 1956 to 1959. The official opening of the tower took place on April 11th, 1961.

Cairo TowerThe Cairo Tower was then one of the world's highest reinforced concrete towers with a height of 187 meters (613 feet) and a diameter of 14 meters (46 feet).

The tower is located on Gezira Island in downtown Cairo. This touristic building serves also both as an observation and communication tower.

Description

The Cairo Tower is characterized by the purity and simplicity of its lines, and the authenticity of its raw materials. The absence of surface decoration and the bold structural use of reinforced concrete result in a light, elegant and almost transparent envelope.

The structure of the tower consists of a central reinforced concrete core, four peripheral columns and various circular platforms spread over the entire height. These platforms support external concrete components shaped like irregular diamonds.

The reinforced concrete diamond patterns covering the exterior of the tower elongate as they approach the top, evoking an upward movement and guiding the one's gaze upwards. The intertwining lines slightly open at the top, imitating a pharaonic inspired lotus flower.

Eight million small mosaics cover the tower's exterior surface. The choice of mosaic coating was dictated by its weatherproof quality as well as its appearance.

Polished pink granite from Aswan, a material often used by ancient Egyptians, was chosen for the base of the tower and the main staircase.

At the top, a revolving restaurant, a cafeteria and a belvedere offer a 360-degree panoramic view of the city

Construction

The realization of the tower required architectural and technical boldness. As a result, this tall building has an appearance of lightness despite its strength and stability.

Each row of the diamond pattern being different, its design required complex calculations and its execution high quality control.

The tower rests on a concrete slab, the size of which greatly exceeds that of the base of the tower. The building reaches support on the bedrock 25 meters below.

A team of 500 workers participated in the construction of the Cairo Tower.

Excerpts from the inauguration speech

At the inauguration of the Cairo Tower, Naoum Shebib delivered a speech in the presence of Kamal Eddin Hussein, the representative of President Gamal Abd El Nasser. An excerpt is presented hereafter:

"[...] This tower sits among the world's highest concrete towers. Its height reaches 187 meters, 50 meters above the Great Pyramid. [...] We have taken into consideration the most modern methods used in reinforced concrete construction. [...] The perimeter of the tower is covered with concrete mesh-shaped diamond patterns that stretch up, giving the impression of an upward movement as the gaze is drawn towards the sky. [...] I want to mention the courage of Egyptian workers and their patience and ability to work at such heights despite their exposure to inclement weather. [...] " .