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Egyptian Authorities Order Townhouse Gallery’s Building to be Demolished

Three days after Cairo’s Townhouse Gallery partially collapsed, riot police evicted the remaining residents and then ordered laborers to start tearing down the building, which has been the home to Egypt’s leading contemporary art space since 1998, Madamasr reports.

A former curator of the gallery, Alexandra Stock, said that she could hear the demolition team “smashing the tile floors and shattering glass on what sounds like all floors.”

The Nabrawy Street five-story building was built in the late nineteenth century. After the southeast corner of the building collapsed the government was supposed to send an architect to access the damage and determine the next steps for fixing the structure. Instead, the officials issued a non-legally binding memo saying that it should be demolished.

The occupants, which include several families, mechanic workshops, and offices as well as the gallery, reached out to the National Organization of Urban Harmony with their concerns and were told that the demolition would be postponed until a new committee could conduct a proper inspection. They thought the building was temporarily safe after they obtained an official document from the organization that said the venue was in the process of applying to be a heritage site.

When the authorities arrived, Youssra Mounir, a five-year resident, said that the tenants were not shown any paperwork confirming that an official decision was made to destroy the building.

The gallery’s Facebook page reads: “It is important to remember that it’s not only Townhouse that has been impacted by the events of this week, but an entire neighborhood and its community.”