Spaces are the letters to a language which is more than often too complicated to decode. What can put things in more perspective other than a simple photograph, featuring the feel, texture, tone, and even taste of every constructed scene? Karim El Hayawan, architect and photography enthusiast, wanders the streets of Cairo, the city of a thousand minarets, only to capture the architectural ingenuity which lies in its urban scheme.
Being an architectural graduate and a successful business owner is only one part of Arch. Karim El Hayawan’s life. Working tirelessly, Arch. Karim can only be partially satisfied by practicing architecture. He has to feel the full essence of it, especially with Egypt’s heritage, captured within the frame of a single shot with his secret weapon of choice: a DSLR camera.
Architectural photography for him has become a lifestyle, making it an almost ‘religious’ ritual every Saturday to photo shoot Cairo from every minaret, church tower, staircase, and from every large and small window. The ecstasy behind constructing the scene, taking the shot, and editing is for him something that cannot be described in words. “Being an architect myself, multiplies the visual gratification... The discovery and unraveling of forgotten dwellings and buildings that were once vibrant and alive is yet another value added to the whole full image,” said Arch. Karim. “With such elements of beauty, history and detail a good photo is always awaiting to be made, making trespassing an important chapter and portion of my photographic quest to capture Cairo's never ending charm and beauty."
It’s part of his mission to make Cairenes public observers of the city’s architectural ingenuity, reflecting on the minds and masters behind the urban floor plans many years ago. Images in essence offer a deep immersion into the secrets that lie within each structure, kind of like the hidden symbols one would find in a work of Da Vinci. Part of creating
a well-structured architectural photograph is recognizing the statement being made within each character, being the building itself. Cairo is an architectural bisection of all eras of Egyptian history. Throw the textbooks away as Karim himself documents a photographic history of the city with all its ages including the ancient period, Islamic with all
its variations, Coptic, and baroque (most prevalent during the Khadeival period). "With hidden architectural gems in almost every corner around big old Cairo varying from Islamic, Renaissance, Coptic and baroque, there is always beauty awaiting to be unveiled and devoured,” said Arch. Karim
Proper visual documentation of the city’s architectural diversity is a task few have taken up. Structures are more than just protruding volumes of concrete, steel, wood or glass. They work to shape the minds of tomorrow; with the psychological effect that they carry they sew into the society the way that they should live for the coming years.
Photography by Karim El Hayawan