The origins of Al-Azhar Park project date to 1984, when the Aga Khan Award for Architecture organised a conference on the subject of The Expanding Metropolis: Coping with the Urban Growth of Cairo. At that time, the city was confronted by the array of contemporary development challenges faced by many cities, not least population pressures, a decline in the quality of housing and the attendant problems these conditions create. It was clear that Cairo needed more green space.
It was on the occasion of the conference that His Highness the Aga Khan announced his decision to finance the creation of a park for the citizens of the Egyptian capital. The only central location which was of suitable scale and which lent itself to rehabilitation was the derelict Darassa site, a 30-hectare (74-acre), 500-year-old mound of rubble in the inner city, between the eastern edge of the 12th Century Ayyubid city and the 15th-century Mamluk “City of the Dead.” . . .