Patterns of Detachment: Spatial Transformations of the Phosphate Industry in el-Quseir, Egypt

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-7635

Article | Open Access

Patterns of Detachment: Spatial Transformations of the Phosphate Industry in el-Quseir, Egypt


  • Mirhan Damir Department of Monument Preservation and Building History, Bauhaus-Universität Weimar, Germany / Department of Architecture, Alexandria University, Egypt
  • Martin Meyer Habitat Unit – International Urbanism and Design, Technische Universität Berlin, Germany
  • Hellen Aziz Department of Urban Renewal and Planning Theory, Universität Kassel, Germany


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Abstract:  The establishment of phosphate mines and processing plants by Italian entrepreneurs in el-Quseir in 1912 revitalized a town that had faced a steady decline after the opening of the Suez Canal and re-linked it to the world economy. To this day, the now defunct industrial site occupies a large section of physical el-Quseir and plays a key role in its identity. In this article, we explore the impact of the company’s successive industrialization and deindustrialization based on archival research, interviews, and mapping. By tracing physical changes on-site and in the city of el-Quseir from the founding of its phosphate industry until today, as well as the historical and current interactions of citizens with the industrial facilities, we hope to better understand the “cluster value” of the industrial plant in quotidian life and the effect of the vacuum left behind after the termination of production. As machinery and buildings are slowly eroding in the absence of expressed interest by the former Italian and current Egyptian owners, we aim to discuss the relationship between the citizens and their el-Quseir phosphate plant as a crucial element of its heritage value at the local level.

Keywords:  Egypt; industrial heritage; industrialization; Italy; mining; phosphate industry

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/up.v8i1.6053


© Mirhan Damir, Martin Meyer, Hellen Aziz. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.