A visit to the home of Timur El Hadidi in Sheikh Zayed proved to be a revelation and an inspiration to sustainable living as an eco friendly home. While it may be easy to make small steps towards reducing the immense pile of trash building up on our planet, How many of us would take on the challenge of building a house, from scratch, with recycled materials? That’s what Timur did. In an age of disposables, we are starting to get a wake-up call. The words, reclaim, re-use, recycle, restore, repurpose and renovate are creeping into our daily vocabulary.
The journey behind the creation of Borg El Hadidi, the environmentally-friendly villa
Since childhood, Timur El Hadidi has always been interested in nature and the environment. His parents raised him to be fascinated by natural phenomena, plants, animals and landscapes. He was mainly raised in Alexandria and regularly stayed at their beach house in Agami. He also used to work in the fields of water and energy as well as sustainable development and sustainable living.
When the 25th of January revolution started in 2011, Timur El Hadidi was already frustrated by the lack of environmental consciousness the government and the private sector in Egypt portrayed. The revolution gave him the push to get out of the box and do something useful and real for himself and also for the bigger cause.
He decided to quit his job and start building a house out of recycled materials in the hope of being able to create an example of change and for sustainable living. Change is not easy, but flexibility and adaptation are necessary for our survival. After acquiring a piece of land in an area called the “Green Revolution” in 2012, everything made sense and Timur El Hadidi started looking for skilled workers and materials.
When he met a few masons, the one who immediately stood out was Sheikh Emad Abo El Hadid. He and Timur El Hadidi immediately started talking while he was building the first little building on the land and never really stopped for the coming eight years. Their discussions ranged from building techniques, material choices and supply to community building, love, religion and art. His open-mindedness, correctness and extraordinary building skills were astounding.
With the help of Ayman the carpenter and Moharram the painter Timur El Hadidi continues to work until today…
In Nubia, South of Aswan on the island of Heissa in the Nile Timur El Hadidi partnered up with Felix, his Nubian partner to build a little lodge. The view is breath taking and the rooms are simple, uniquely built into the granite rocks and very cozy. The food is delicious and the Nubians are super friendly. The whole island is engaged in a development process and trying to balance between development and keeping traditions and the environment alive through sustainable living.
Many projects mushroomed on Heissa and the community was enriched with investors, social workers and environmental activists. Heissa is becoming a very interesting destination that offers traditional living with the Nubians, historical monuments, birdwatching, great beaches, hiking, kayaking and much more.
How to overcome challenges to meet building requirements with recycled materials:
Timur El Hadidi had no specific plans to look for certain materials, he was simply taking what he found! This flexibility gave him the ability to place any material at any time anywhere he wanted. Nevertheless, around 80% of the materials used are recycled.
Timur El Hadidi says that his ideas have turned out better than as he first envisioned it, which was a surprise and he loves it and is satisfied with the outcome.
Timur El Hadidi’s favorite thing about his eco friendly home is the story behind it. “The days, weeks, months and years. The memories… It was a journey that is still ongoing and now I even get to enjoy the house.” He says. We asked if it is still a work-in-process, or if he feels it is a completed project, and his answer was: “A project like this one is a never-ending story. A house is a responsibility, it needs maintenance, occupants and happy times to fulfil its purpose as a home.”
Some developers have approached Timur El Hadidi to do a town-like project in a sustainable manner. He is discussing topics like location, community building, social justice and reducing costs of living. On the other hand, he mentions that it would also be interesting to look at existing areas and communities that need a restructure or refurbishment for revival. He aspires to create an example of a new age community that is environmentally aware, self-sustainable, highly conscious and engaged..
Also read: Hassan Fathy: The Genius Behind Sustainable Architecture