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Environment / Climate change

Cairo is building a skyscraper shaped like a pyramid

In around 1790 BC, Egypt’s pharaohs stopped building pyramids. After thousands of years, the burial technique had begun to look a bit archaic (not to mention like an awful lot of work), and the trendy pharaohs of the New Kingdom were buried in tombs cut into rock faces instead.

With the inevitability of terrible 80s fashion, however, pyramids seem to have come back into style. This month, the Egyptian Housing Ministry announced plans for a giant, 200m tall pyramid skyscraper in Cairo, Egypt’s capital, a mere 30 minute drive from the ancient pyramids at Giza.

The design has, of course, been updated: rather than stone, the building appears to be built from steel and glass. Architects have also taken liberties with the pyramid’s shape: the building’s actually made up of two pyramids, one of which is stretched awkwardly to achieve the 200m height.

The “Zayed Crystal Spark” towers, as they will improbably be known, will be located in Cairo’s Sheikh Zayed City, a district to the southeast of the city centre. If built, the complex will be both the country’s tallest building and its tallest pyramid, easily surpassing the Great Pyramid’s 138m height.

The choice of design may have been partly motivated by the city’s flailing tourism industry, which nose-dived after the 2011 revolution. Last year, the country’s antiquities minister announced that revenues from the pyramids and other monuments had fallen by 95 per cent since 2011, while overall tourism revenues were down by about half. It could be that a new and updated pyramid will bring visitors back to the city.

Other details, including the project’s architect and the tower’s intended use, have not yet been revealed. Moustafa Madbouly, Egypt’s minister of housing told the Cairo Post that the complex as a whole will be:

An administrative, commercial and entertainment project as it includes buildings for various purposes, in addition to the unique 200-metre tower.

Will it also incorporate a tomb for a high-ranking official? Only time will tell.

Images: Ministry of Housing
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