Cairo Expo City by Zaha Hadid Architects



Zaha Hadid Architects have won a competition to design Cairo Expo City in Cairo, Egypt.


The topography of the Nile valley is the inspiration behind the project's fluid forms.


The project, located between the city centre and the airport, will provide a campus for exhibitions and conferences.


See also our earlier story on The Stone Towers in Cairo by Zaha Hadid Architects.


See all our stories about Zaha Hadid in our special category.

Here's some info from the architects:



After presenting the design to Egyptian Prime Minister Dr. Ahmed Nazif, Zaha Hadid Architects was announced as architects of the new
Cairo Expo City. Zaha Hadid Architects will be designing Cairo Expo City together with global multi-disciplinary engineering consultancy Buro Happold.


The winning design for Cairo Expo City delivers a unique facility for Cairo - a 450,000 square metre, state of the art city for exhibitions and
conferences, located between the centre of Cairo and the city’s airport. The project comprises a major international exhibition and conference
centre with business hotel. A further office tower and a shopping centre are also proposed.


"This is a truly national project for Egypt." said Sherif Salem, CEO of the GOIEF (General Organization of International Exhibitions and Fairs). "The current exhibition halls for Cairo do not meet the standards now required by the international conference and exhibition industry. With this exceptional design by Zaha Hadid Architects, Cairo will be among the world's top cities for conferences and fairs, able to cater for the widest variety and size of events.”

The undulating fluid forms of the Cairo Expo City design were inspired by the natural topography of the Nile valley explained Zaha Hadid.

"As the exhibition spaces require the greatest degree of flexibility, we wanted to ensure that all the public spaces and formal composition of Cairo Expo City relate to the surrounding Egyptian landscape.” said Hadid. “Along the great rivers of the region, most particularly the Nile, there is a powerful dynamic - a constant flow between the water and the land - which extends to incorporate the neighboring buildings and landscapes. For the Cairo Expo City design, we worked to capture that seamlessness and fluidity in an urban architectural context."

Carving and sculpting processes have been used to divide the very large exhibition and conference areas required for Cairo Expo City into clusters of individual buildings that have their own formal composition, yet each building relates to the overall design. A main north-south artery is carved through the design, with secondary streams converging at the centre to ease crowd traffic during event. The movement of people within these streams informs the building entrances on the site.

Zaha Hadid Architects was shortlisted with Norwegian architecture practice Snohetta for the second phase of the competition in April. Works will begin in October this year to clear the site.

Client: GOIEF (General Organization of International Exhibitions and Fairs), Cairo

Design: Zaha Hadid Architects

Engineering: Buro Happold, London

Quantity Surveyor: Gleeds, London

Traffic and Logistics: Buro Happold, London

Built Area: 450,000sqm (exhibition halls, conference centre and mixed-use areas)

Height of Towers: 33 and 31 storeys

Posted on Tuesday June 9th 2009 at 9:13 pm by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • Andros

    I am really so drunk this morning?! Oh God!

  • Hatim al-Iraqi

    Well…. some comments are abviously unfair and are about Zaha Hadid personality not about the subject project, which are not professionally posted.
    those who think that zaha is repeating herself and that the ideas are not her ideas, I assure you that there is no single line in a single sheet shows up from Zaha’s office is not aproved by her. You can see her personal sketches, it is even more radical than this project.

    however, and due to economic situation in egypt, I would luv a project from zaha that mix her madness and radical brain with egypt’s shining history. If she takes some time, I am sure she can make the 8th wonder in egypt.
    architecture is a process of subsequent visions, you can’t stick to one vision, but to move to the next one, that is why space-time is not applied to fine arts for example.
    go zaha, we luv ur anti- traditions madness.

  • tanya telford – T

    i wrote the following comments on design boom blog earlier in the month, when i came across pictures of the project on their site, i just felt it was easier to visualize being there, the eco bit of my comment is just about materials, just some ideas i had when i saw the images:

    “I was looking at pictures of this earlier today, it seems so vast, there are areas of it which I love – the dynamics – images 2, 5, 7 & 8 – I can imagine walking there and the space feeling quite remarkable. I have yet to read about the materials in terms of meeting environmental sustainability concerns plus labour concerns but if these things can be sorted out in a good way, it could be a very amazing place. Personally I think i would like listen to concerts of world music there, the acoustics could be amazing? (I don’t know about acoustics and structure).”

  • littlerock

    Architecture? not measurement? not details? i want to see more and more………….

  • Maged

    for those people talking about whipped cream , such navigating in these fluid spaces & plazas and all those curvilinear leveled scapes is so interesting.
    & for those people talking about poor economy struggle i think our gov. is capable to push the limits for such unique projects

  • juliet

    beautiful…. as usual.
    good job!

  • tk

    ali , are or were you working for zaha? maybe it’s patrik’s problem right? haha… just kidding

  • Not only admirable architecture but exceptional viz job as well! She seems to have a good viz team behind her. As a concept artist, I’m often put off when a potentially good architectural concept project is spoiled by cheap or old-fashioned visualization – either by people not wanting to invest (or even not knowing what quality can be achieved today) in viz or even worse, by architects being old-fashioned when it comes to graphics and with their minds being still in the ’60s of the previous century… Minimalistic in architecture might be ok but minimalism in visualizations is definitely not in anymore – people today want to see the concept in all its photo-realistic quality, not some funny, abstract graphics!

  • daniel

    ohhhhhhhhhhh common men ….. where are you living …. what are you saying …what do you know about future design or architecture …..what happen to youre conscience … turn on youre brains …look to future ..soooooo what do you see .. i dont know .. how can you dare talk about zaha hadid … some one who is always wining the competition…a genius architect .. zaha hadid is zaha hadid never chenge and never loose

  • Lets make the dream come true

  • Dan

    Just stumbled your site. Very cool project. My wife and I visited Cairo in April of 2009. I thought it was a beautiful city. I posted some pictures at my blog.

  • "I wonder, does THE Zaha Hadid design all these 'whipped cream' structures or does her employees? "
    why are yall hating, the name of her architectural practice is Zaha Hadid Architects, its a practice with people working under her, she is the main architect…

    " I'd much rather she say: "The undulating fluid forms were not inspired by anything, this is kinda just what I do if you haven't noticed." "


    Finally, we are all a greedy bunch of human beings we. We design rectilinear forms, and people complain that they are tired of rectilinear forms, we design curvilinear forms and people say they are tired of curvilinear forms, you can't have it all you know! Leave her be, She has a style it works well for her and i think to a large extent she is pushing architecture forward from whatever perspective i think her works represent a progress in the way of thinking of what architecture is to what architecture can be. On the realization of her projects, the truth is, even less complex and less expensive projects too stand a high possibility of not getting built. I believe she is one of the greatest architects of our time, be it artistic representation of her work, Actually built design and even till conceptualization and thought process of her work.
    Whether or not this work gets built is left to time to tell…but truthfully it does look like whipped cream…

  • A guest

    When I stayed in the Australian Hostel, I lost my towel. After I asked them for the laundry, they lost my towel. The cost for the laundry was 15LE and my towel cost around 30CHF.In another hotel, I lost a T-shirt after the laundry. I think anyone traveling to Egypt should wash their own laundry by oneself.

  • O desfile da minha nova coleção no Cairo Expo City será perfeito!
    Tem tudo a ver com o conceito Eu Sou e as cores fortes dos vestido vão ganhar força diante de tanto branco!
    Belo, magnifico… perfeito!

  • Kenji

    Fantastic, a lot of great modern and futuristic designs coming out in Egypt

  • aya

    plzzzz i want plans

  • ph 2

    you know how they call this project at zaha? the whipped cream.
    yes they're right, it is more pastry than architecture

  • Nancy El

    A futuristic building for people who want to live in the 5th century. Awesome.