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El Gouna – Egypt

London studio Seilern Architects has designed the El Gouna Plaza to host the fifth edition of the El Gouna Film Festival. This island plaza is the first design of a three-phase development in the heart of this Egyptian seaside resort on the west coast of the Red Sea. This monumental project, covering a total of 51,600 m², will eventually include a 600-seat concert hall, a 2,000-seat conference centre and another open-air space.

Because of the desert and subtropical climate, the concrete structure has been designed with colonnades decorated with pointed arches that function as walkways. This is what gives it its perfectly distinctive character. This type of design draws on Egyptian and Moorish architecture, a symbolic approach rooted in the cultural history of the region.

The proximity of bodies of water was also decisive in setting up the complex in the middle of a large lagoon with “almost 10 million litres of water”. This gravity-fed system (water distribution network) is fed not by pumps but by existing wells and connected to the river. This spectacular project represents a decisive step in El Gouna’s cultural development, with a view to becoming “a major centre for performances, exhibitions, events and exchanges around the arts”.

Nathalie Dassa