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Cairo, a river, a country, a history

Project to transform subway air shafts into series of ceramic boats telling events of Egyptian history

25 November 2020
Year :
Location :
Subway Line 2, Cairo

The constructor of the Lisbon Tejo bridge Vasco de Gama was also the constructor of the Cairo subway. In 1996 Inscrire was building the Parque station in Lisbon when we met. Knowing that we had an expertise in subways ceramic artworks, they invited us to visit their metro line n°1 and 2 in Cairo.

Our commission for them was to make a proposal resolving their air shafts problems :
– esthetically they were ugly and slightly above ground concrete bizarre items, large and very low above the sidewalk. People hated them.
– in addition, these airshafts were very badly conceived and were spitting hot air out directly on people’s houses.

Since the hundreds of these airshafts along the two lines were necessary to ventilate the underground system, we proposed to invent a narration that could be applied to the entire system.

The concept was to create an analogy between the metro fluid system and the Nile river. Along with both fluid circulation ways, divided into as many sections as the number of stations, a historical story would be addressed. Each airshaft would, therefore, become sort of a Nile boat, covered with narrative tiles, which would be telling a moment of history. Each metro station and its air shaft would express a moment of Egyptian history. The shape of this air shaft would be adapted to change the air movements.


Viuva Lamego, usine de céramique
Egypt’s National Authority for Tunnels (NAT)
Eurovia Travaux Ferroviaires


The Cairo Metro – مترو أنفاق القاهرة