Creating Better Urban Habitats Through Innovation

Schaduf: Urban Landscape Architects from Egypt Revolutionize Urban Agriculture and Green Space Design

Sustainable Living Solutions in one of the World’s Fastest Growing Metropolises

© 2016 Ramen / Javi Zamor

One of the world’s oldest civilizations, Egypt has spanned millennia as a center of culture, imperial might, legend, and religion. It was one of the first societies to develop writing, urbanization, and organized religious beliefs. Centered for centuries around the dependable agricultural seasons dictated by the flooding of the mighty Nile River and in the fertile Nile River Delta, Egypt is widely recognized as the first civilization to develop agriculture on a large scale. It built great wealth growing staple food and industrial crops like wheat, barley, flax, and papyrus.

The climate of the region, however, is extremely arid, and, excepting the immediate surroundings of the Nile, not suitable for growing crops. The Egyptians, however, developed an ingenious irrigation system that expanded the area of arable land around the Nile, creating a situation in which even farmers far away from the river could enjoy the benefits of its waters.

Modern Egypt is the most populous country in North Africa and in the Arab World, with 92 million inhabitants and the largest and most diverse economy in the MENA region, it is projected by many to become a major economic power, globally, over the course of the 21st century. Its ancient capital, Cairo, serves as a major hub of tourism, thanks to the nearby World Cultural Heritage Sites and icons of Egypt, the Great Pyramids at the Giza Necropolis and the Sphinx, among other incredible archaeological sites that draw tens of millions of tourists.

As much of the world continues to draw inspiration from Egypt’s glorious past, today, the ingenuity and inventiveness of the ancient Egyptians is being carried forward in the country by innovative Egyptian companies that are pushing the boundaries of technology, engineering, and innovation to create a better standard of living within Egypt, and beyond. One of the foremost examples of this new, Egyptian ingenuity is Schaduf, an urban landscape architectural and urban agricultural firm based in Cairo.

© 2016 Ramen / Javi Zamor

Starting operations in 2011, Schaduf is devoted to creating sustainable living solutions through the creation of innovative urban green spaces in the heart of Cairo. The company’s name is derived from an ancient irrigation tool, the shadoof (or shaduf), which was used in to irrigate the Nile river basin. The company began with building rooftop farms in Cairo, allowing residents and workers to make a living farming fresh fruits and vegetables on their own rooftops.

The company started to expand through a concerted effort to address the infamous lack of green space in the city. Its projects include Green Roofs, which cut down on emissions through keeping buildings cooler in the summer and cleaning the air, Green Walls, which take once barren, concrete vertical spaces and introduce greenery, and its urban farms, which empower high density, low income neighborhoods to take control of their incomes and nutrition through the production of sustainable, local food products.

One example of Schaduf’s past projects is “The Courtyard,” a beautiful, multidimensional green space occupying one urban building lot that features the longest continuous green wall in all of Egypt, and perhaps in all of the MENA region. The space provides a literal breath of fresh air among the endless rows of concrete streets and walls, elevating the quality of life in the city and in the community. Urban planners know that public, green spaces are essential to happier, healthy urban living, and Schaduf is perhaps foremost among private and public actors working to achieve this reality in Cairo today.

Schaduf, having already received the Green Technology Award from the Global Forum on Human settlements, has been selected to receive the 2016 BID International Quality Award by Business Initiative Directions, one of the world’s foremost bodies recognizing Quality Culture, Sustainability, and Community Engagement in international companies and organizations.


BID is a private and independent organization founded in 1984, whose primary activity is business communication orientated towards quality, excellence and innovation in management. A leader in the broadcasting of Quality Culture, BID recognizes those companies and organizations which lead the most important activities in the business world, and is considered the founding organization in the broadcasting of the Culture of Quality, Excellence and Innovation in 179 countries. The trophy symbolizes a pledge to the principles of Quality Culture. The QC100 Total Quality Management Model, together with the Quality Mix program, media coverage of the convention and its impact on the community and business sector, create an unmatched platform for continuous improvement within the organization and awareness of the achievements of the company at an international level. Awards are given only to those who are committed to improving their Quality Culture based on the principles of the QC100 Total Quality Management Model. Candidates are proposed by the leaders of previously awarded companies who they consider worthy of the award. Especially meritorious candidates may also be nominated. The International BID Quality Award Selection Committee then chooses the winning companies who will receive the award in New York, Paris, Geneva, Frankfurt, Madrid and London.