The Bartlett Development Planning Unit


Rana Zein

Rana Zein

Nationality: Egyptian
Thesis: URBAN RE-INDUSTRIALIZATION: Towards a More Sustainable Pattern of Industrial Urban Development inside Cities 
Key Topics: Urban re-industrialization, Brownfields, Circular Industry, Industrial Supply Chains, Urban economy

I am a PhD. candidate studying urban re-industrialization and its relevance to the Egyptian context, particularly the abandoned industrial areas lying inside urban cores. My research tries to develop a context-tailored urban framework to allow for a low-carbon and resource-efficient industrial re-activation of brownfields with the objectives of supporting the endeavours of promoting sustainable industrialization and urban development as well as strengthening urban economy inside cities. While simultaneously, optimizing the use of existing resources to respond to climatic and economic challenges. I have developed a range of qualitative and quantitative analytical techniques required to develop a complex urban framework within which several strategies and guidelines are outlined to support the re-industrialization of brownfields.

My interest in studying those brownfields in particular has been growing since my graduation project. Within a graduation project focusing on revitalization, students were offered different potential sites for the graduation project, one of which was a formal abandoned shipyard that was surprisingly nearby my home in Cairo. This initially intrigued my curiosity to work on this site and discover more about its history and the transformations it has been through. Such interest grew further during my pre-master phase in the double Master program “Revitalization of Historic City Districts”, which is a joint program between three universities; Cairo University, Brandenburg Technical University and Alexandria University. Two of the main projects at that phase, focused on the redevelopment of two post-industrial areas within different urban contexts in Germany and Egypt. Also, my master thesis was concerned with the same issue; it was a project-based research that focused on using the creative vernacular practices in the city to revitalize post-industrial areas, Minet el-bassal historical industrial area in Egypt. It investigated the possibility of turning the area into a productive hub for creative circular industries through small-scale art-based urban interventions. 

By the end of my master thesis, I became knowledgeable of a survey indicating more than 20 abandoned historical industrial areas in Egyptian cities. In other words, the three cases I have dealt with are not aberrations, but they are part of a bigger problem. They are related to structural problems in the politics and economics of industrial urban development agenda along with deficiencies in planning practice. Thereby, such areas are to be lost and forgotten if no feasible solutions and frameworks are developed to protect and re-purpose them. Such risk triggered my interest to research more in that field through my PHD studies.

My professional expertise span areas of sustainable urban development, urban regeneration, and urban design whether in academia or practical field. I joined the department of Architectural Engineering at Cairo University as a teaching assistant in 2017 and was promoted to assistant lecturer in 2019. Since 2017 up till 2021, I was involved in teaching courses related to urban design, urban development and architectural design. Further, I was assigned as a part-time teaching assistant at the Architectural department at AUC from February 2019 till May 2021. In 2017, I was also part of a research project sponsored by Cairo University entitled “Bring life back to El-Qusier: A sustainable approach”. While in 2019, and 2020, I was part of the organizing and documenting team of “Water sensitive Qusier: An integrated urban development approach” and the “Urban Design Studio” workshops.

Beside academic work, I worked as a part-time urban designer in a design office from October 2019 till September 2021. Additionally, I have participated in some workshops and competitions concerned with upgrading the urban environment using creative solutions that respond to the current economic and environmental challenges given the limited resources such as the “Urban Innovation” competition, “Egypt without slums” workshop and others. Such activities helped to nurture my interest in developing new planning approaches to create sustainable urban environments that can cater for the needs and aspirations of their inhabitants.

In my spare time I enjoy reading novels, sketching, swimming, and walking.

Primary supervisor: Le-Yin Zhang
Secondary Supervisor: Naji Makarem
Mother tongue: Arabic
Second Language: English- Level C1
Third Language: German-Level A1

Memberships: Egyptian Engineering Syndicate