Context-insensitive planning and design in Egypt

The Nile and the Pyramids - before and after the floods

The Nile and the Pyramids - before and after the floods

Here is (1) a nineteenth century painting of the Pyramids in time of flood [June and September – akhet – the inundation] (2) in an early twentieth century photograph (3) a recent after-the-dam photograph by trexcali. Were the climate change of the past 10,000 years to be repeated the River Nile would reclaim its flood plain. Egypt’s cities should have been built on the Red Land (desret), not on the Black Land (kemet) – and Egypt’s urban growth should still be on desert land, conserving what is left of one of best places on earth for agriculture, horticulture and garden design.

4 thoughts on “Context-insensitive planning and design in Egypt

  1. Christine

    What a huge shame that the pyramids have lost their original context! The modern skyline has little to offer as a foreground to such incredible works.

  2. Tom Turner Post author

    Yes. But it may be that without the Aswan High Dam Egypt could support half as many people.
    I am willing to admit to sympathy for the idea that the world’s population should be sustained but not increased.

  3. Christine

    I once saw some amazing work done by an American Landscape firm that mapped the ecologically appropriate land use of the US. I believe such work would provide a good foundation for a debate about population limits at any given time in history. Are you aware of anything similar?

  4. Tom Turner Post author

    It sounds like a project inspired by the work of Ian McHarg. The problem is that ‘ecologically appropriate’ is a science-based idea and, I guess, an idea based on weak science. I think it would be very difficult for science to ‘prove’ that the human population is anywhere near the carrying capacity of Planet Earth. Technology is still advancing far too fast for us to be in a Malthusian situation. So if there is to be an argument for limiting population growth it needs to rest on belief rather than science. In rich countries, people are deciding, as individuals, not to have large families. In China, this decision has been taken at a political level. The rate of population growth is falling in India too. The continent with the highest rate of population growth is Africa.


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