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Weston Williamson beats ZHA to win Cairo’s Science City contest

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Weston Williamson + Partners has won an international competition for a new 125,000m² Science City near Cairo

The London practice was chosen over Kuala Lumpur-based Ngiom Partnership, which came second, and Zaha Hadid Architects in third place.

Organised by the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, the single-stage contest sought both a comprehensive masterplan and a conceptual design for the new campus.

Co-founder Chris Williamson commented: ‘We are proud to have won. Needless to say that Egypt has a unique cultural heritage, but we were also attracted by the ambition of the project, clearly expressed through the brief.

‘We look forward to developing the design and creating something worthy for Egypt’s future generations.’

Planned as a national institute for scientific innovation, the offshoot of the prestigious library will be constructed within Egypt’s ‘6th of October City’ settlement.

Founded by former Egyptian president Anwar El Sadat in 1979, the 400 km2 planned city has a population of half a million and is expected to eventually host 3.7 million inhabitants.

The campus 35km west of Cairo will feature an exhibition hall, museum, conference centre, research hub, planetarium, observation tower and outdoor park.

The brief called for a ‘set of buildings and spaces that must be inspiring on the outside and motivating and exciting on the inside to visitors and employees alike’.

Concepts which ‘express a particular vision of the search for knowledge and the pursuit of science’ were required.

Judges included Bibliotheca Alexandrina director Ismail Serageldin, former British Museum director Neil MacGregory and Harvard Graduate School of Design dean and professor Mohsen Mostafavi.

Jane Drew Prize winner Odile Decq was originally on the panel but was later replaced with American architectural critic Michael Sorkin.

The competition comes 14 years after Snøhetta completed its competition-winning new home for the library which is based on the ancient Library of Alexandria.

Weston Williamson + Partners will receive around £75,000 and the design contract. Ngiom will meanwhile take home approximately £50,000 while ZHA will also receive a £30,000 prize.

 Team Country
The First Winner Prize WestonWilliamson + Partners United Kingdom
The Second Winner Prize Ngiom Partnership Malaysia
The Third Winner Prize Zaha Hadid Architects United Kingdom
The Fourth Winner Prize Gansam Architects & Partners Co.,Ltd Korea, South
Honorable Mention Prize Petras Architecture, XCON Housos Greece
Honorable Mention Prize Joaquim Caetano de Lima Filho, Daniel Henrique Ribeiro, Giliarde Silva, Guilherme Oliveira. Brazil
Honorable Mention Prize whitespace architects United Arab Emirates
Honorable Mention Prize Francisco Jorquera Spain
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