An U.S. Embassy for Cairo, Egypt
Dumas, David Allen
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One type of ambiguity in architecture is the contradiction between a building's projected image and its opposing nature in reality. Ambiguity in architecture is defined as the complexity and contradiction that is the result of the juxtaposition of what a building is and what it appears to be.' Architecture is by its very nature ambiguous, because it is simultaneously a concrete physical manifestation and an abstract concept. Ambiguity in architecture promotes richness of meaning over clarity of meaning. The architecture embodies this ambiguity can be defîned as "both-and" as opposed to "either-or." The contradiction between the projected image and the reality of a building allows it to simultaneously be two opposing ideas. Le Corbusier's Villa Shodhan in Ahmedabad is both open and closed, while his Villa Savoye appears simple on the outside but is highly complicated on the inside.^ The project for this thesis is an U.S. embassy complex located in Cairo, Egypt. Egypt has an extremely long and rich architectural tradition and culture which must be addressed by this embassy. The embassy must project an appropriate image or reflection of the United States govemment and its people while also fitting into the densely urban built environment of Cairo. The issue becomes the blending or integrating of the existing architectural traditions of Egypt mto the architecture of the embassy and simultaneously stating that this is an new building constructed by a foreign govenmient. Embassies as a facility type are by nature ambiguous. The embassy presents the image of fiiendliness and welcome, but in reality it is a secured fortress with very limited access. It is also a diplomatic building that not only facilitates open communication with a foreign country, but also espionage. Ambiguity results in the architectural expression of these opposing roles of the embassy. This embassy project is roughly 41,000 square feet and will accommodate 115 employees.