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Cairo’s Townhouse Gallery to be Restored

After facing a series of setbacks that have occurred over the course of several months, including partial demolition, Townhouse Gallery—a prominent Cairo contemporary art space—has announced their headquarters will be restored.

As previously reported by artforum.com, months after the conclusion of a government raid that forced the gallery to temporarily close in December, the gallery’s building became unstable and the southeast corner partially collapsed. Luckily, no one was injured. Only days after the collapse, officials inspected the building, declared it unsafe, and issued a demolition memo. The tenants refused to accept the memo since it was not legally binding. They submitted an application for the building to be declared a heritage site and requested another assessment of the building be carried out. However, on April 11, riot police arrived and ordered residents to vacate the building before partially demolishing the structure. The occupants of the building cried foul play citing that the police did not have permission to begin the demolition.

A lawyer, Ashraf Mohamed, working on behalf of the several families, workshops, and gallery staff that are housed in the building, appealed to a judge and was able to obtain a license to begin restoration the day after the building was partially torn down, reports Mada Masr. A specialized committee consisting of a judge, two engineers, and a representative from the municipality inspected the building and decided that the structure could be restored.

According to former Townhouse employee Mido Sadek, the police who had authorized and supervised the destruction of the building did so illegally. A statement on the gallery’s Facebook page reads:

“Thanks to the ongoing support, of countless numbers of individuals and organizations, as well as municipal engineers, the main building of Townhouse will not be demolished. Townhouse is taking this opportunity to reimagine its role and responsibilities as an independent cultural space at this crucial time.”

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