The American University in Cairo Press (AUC Press) has released a newly revised and expanded edition of Dust: Egypt’s Forgotten Architecture by Xenia Nikolskaya. The book is a stunning photographic compilation of Egypt’s abandoned palaces and grand buildings, featuring photographs by Nikolskaya and contributing essays by Heba Farid and Omar Nagati.
Between 1860 and 1940, Cairo and other large cities in Egypt witnessed a major construction boom that gave birth to extraordinary palaces and lavish buildings. These incorporated a mix of architectural styles, such as Beaux-Arts and Art Deco, with local design influences and materials. Today, many lie empty and neglected, rapidly succumbing to time.
In 2006, Xenia Nikolskaya, an award-winning Russian-Swedish photographer, began the process of documenting these structures, gaining exceptional access to them and taking photographs at around thirty locations in Egyptian cities including Cairo, Alexandria, Luxor, Minya, Esna, and Port Said. These photographs were featured in the first edition of Dust: Egypt’s Forgotten Architecture, which soon after its release in 2012 became a rare collector’s item.
“Dust explores the conditions and relevance of empty architectural spaces in Egypt, presenting an entwined dualism: dust as materiality that layers the city, literally tracing the passage of time upon urban objects–but also as a temporal metaphor that registers these changes on the level of memories, both past and present,” said Nikolskaya.
The revised and expanded edition of the 160-page hardcover book includes 82 colour photographs from the first edition, with additional unseen images and new photographs taken by Nikolskaya between 2013 and 2021. It also includes unpublished essays by Heba Farid, co-owner of the Cairo-based photo gallery Tintera, and architect and urban planner Omar Nagati, co-founder of CLUSTER, an urban design and research platform in Cairo.