I had always thought there was something special about this house in our neighborhood. For me, it had a magical quality to it. I photographed it about 4 years ago and was glad I did as it disappeared shortly afterward.
If you hide the satellite dish, remove the sofa and clean up the trash, you can imagine it as the hired-hand's home when paired with this stately old manor house nearby.
With a little imagination, you would have an ideal setting for a Naguib Mahfouz or Agatha Christie novel set in the Egyptian countryside a hundred years ago.
The old dusty house sat on the last vacant lot on our street giving us a shortcut over to Ragab Sons supermarket. Here's the lot, before and current.
About a week ago, I noticed a crew going to work drilling holes in the pit for a high-rise foundation. I had to stop and admire the crew. Some projects use major-league heavy equipment to do this kind of work, but here the crew is doing it the old fashioned way, turning the drill bit by hand.
They are not without some power tools; they have an engine and winch to lift the drill bit back out of the hole. Here is a look at both the drilling rig and the drill bit.
I feel bad that I will miss much of the construction over the next nine months, although this building will likely be going up slowly.
I've photographed quite a few of these construction projects which result in ten to twelve story buildings. The building techniques are very straightforward. After the foundation footings are in and a foundation poured, each floor is poured.
Concrete support columns are extended upward by one floor.
Bricks are used to fill in the open spaces.
The final building may be just brick-faced or a coat of cement and paint can be added to make it look first-rate. A building needn't be completed in order for families to move in.
I have watched many bricks being laid in Egypt. I have never seen a piece of string used to maintain a straight and level line. There is clearly some great cultural difference that requires Americans to insist on straight lines of bricks.
Since 1955, the Egyptian population has increased from about 23 million to 94 million. This website projects a population of 151 million in 2050. Eventually, the entire country will be covered with these brick apartments.