Passionate about communities’ cultural evolution and urban development, this creative lady made the best of both worlds by working on an architectural landmark in Nubia to showcase their culture! Mai Hussien is an Egyptian with Nubian roots who graduated from the Faculty of Fine Arts in 2014. Her main concern is to provide sustainable solutions and adequate spaces to serve the community and preserve cultures.
When and how did you realize your passion for architecture?
Architecture is a huge field! Studying Architecture forces you to know culture, arts and human beings. I was blessed to study at the Faculty of Fine Arts, Helwan University. Being there has widened my perspective to other types of art, and made me passionate about giving and being part of the creative field.
Can you tell us more your graduation project in Nubia?
I aimed to focus on the Nubian architecture in order to create a landmark that has an identity for the sake of conserving part of the unique architecture style in Nubia. I also wanted to develop the community through engaging visitors with locals by creating spaces that allow tourists to get exposed to the Nubian culture and history.
According to your previous interviews, it was a dream of yours to work on a Nubian hotel by the Nile, why?
In 2015, I had the chance to have my dream come true with my graduation project. I was the main Architect and Co-Founder of Nubian Guest house which was the first phase of the community development association “Ashry Narty” in Gharb Sohiel village in Nubia. I wanted to conserve architectural and cultural heritage and create shared values with the local society; using local resources for sustainable social and economic development.
What do you think is the most beautiful thing about El Nuba?
People are the most beautiful thing in Nubia. They are very giving and they have a great feeling of belonging for the land, the place and the culture.
What were the challenges you faced while working on the project?
The biggest challenge was being in charge of a construction site just a year after graduation, especially that a couple of months after the construction began, the owner had to travel to Japan. I was completely alone which was a big load for a fresh grad to take especially being among the contractors as a woman.
As a female engineer in the field of architecture, do you think there are specific challenges for women in the field?
The field overall is the same for women as men, but some specific tasks like site supervision can be a bit hard for some women as it’s really physically consuming and hard.
What were the reactions of people in El Nuba when they saw your final outcome?
They were very proud of seeing the outcome representing their culture and thoughtful to highlight some specific details they care about. Three months after the hotel’s soft opening, we decided to organize an event that aims to form dialogue and exchange experiences with people from different backgrounds from all around Egypt. We wanted to encourage people to participate and develop ideas with a focus on Nubian culture. People of Gharb Soheil village were very happy to see the outcome of the festival that expresses detail of the intangible Nubian heritage through art pieces.
What are your future expectations and aspirations?
I am now studying my master in Architectural and Cultural heritage, it has always been my passion to preserve culture with its authentic diversity. Culture and identity with all they include of art types always move me with passion towards the unknown.