CHS Workshop: Al Madrasa Al-Salhiya Adaptive Reuse

Proposal for the Revival, Restoration and Adaptive Reuse of Al Saleh Negm al-Din Ayyub Madrasa Complex
As prepared during the “Madrasa al Saliheya Workshop” in 2019 with Cairo Heritage School



Al Saleh Negm al-Din Ayyub Madrasa Complex (AH 641 / AD 1243) is one of the first Sunni madrasas (Schools) built in Egypt. It was constructed on the ruins of the Fatimid Eastern Palace.
The complex has a unique configuration of a central axial entrance which would have divided the school into two courts each with two Iwans attached to it. An Ayyubid Minaret is erected hung over the entrance arch. In 1250, a domed mausoleum for the Sultan al-Salih was added to the north end of the complex by his wife Shajar al-Durr.

Picture1The complex ruins is one of the only two remaining ruins of such complex dating back to the Ayyubid era, the second being the Madrasa Kamiliyya (built AH 622 / AD 1225). And it is considered the architectural transition between the Fatimid complexes and the subsequent Mamluk madrasas with the four axial Iwans.

The minaret, and the facade are somewhat intact, as well as the mausoleum. From the madrasa itself, only one of the northern Iwans remain, as well as the courtyard which can be accessed from Harat al-Salihiya, the ruins of the opposite Iwan is now a junkyard. The southern section of the madrasa is completely gone, and a mall was constructed over its ruins.



Picture5The deterioration of the madrasa and lack of restoration, as well as the post revolution social changes to the area, have led to further decline in the economic status of the community.
Yet the residents of Harat al-Salihiya still possess a deep appreciation of the site, and a rooted sense of pride in its existence. This appreciation resulted in frustration at the current state of the complex.
The economic decline and lack of tourism, as well as the poor visibly and deterioration of the complex poses a real danger to the historical site.
Al Madrasa al-Salhiya site is in dire need of historical restoration, economic revival and social revitalization of its community.



Our aim is to revive the Madrasa and adjacent community through the introduction of a Cultural communal space in the Madrasa courtyard, while accommodating and upgrading the crafts and commercial existing functions and increasing the discovery of the site.
We aim to resurrect the collective memory of the complex by retracing the original outline of both sections of the madrasa.

This will be carried out through a threefold urban intervention, the first is a restoration and renewal based intervention in the northern section of the madrasa, where the space of the courtyard will be renewed, existing obstructions will be removed, and the workshops will be relocated to free up the attached rooms for adaptive reuse, the ruins of the demolished Iwan will be symbolically traced and will work as an extension for the cultural activities introduced in the courtyard.

The second intervention will take place in the newly constructed mall, which suffers from neglect and low footfall, the aim of this intervention is tracing and retrieving the remnants of the southern section of the madrasa, albeit in an abstract manner, while also opening up the mall for higher traffic and discoverability. A series of subtractions of the traces of the courtyard and iwans will be carried out, thus disjointing and disentangling the convoluted maze like structure. These interventions also aim to consolidate and augment the accessibility of the complex from Khan el Khalili.

Last but not least, the stalls which are obstructing the visibly of the complex façade, will be set back from the façade by a couple of meters and their overall level will be lowered, to provide more visibility and recognition of the monument and a clearer connection to al-Moez street.

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