Arch2O logo - Photo: Arch2O’s official website
CAIRO - 20 June 2017: Established in 2012, Arch2O is an architecture-oriented e-magazine that features unique architectural projects worldwide and seeks to provide a publishing and marketing platform for works of unknown architects with new, innovative ideas.
Egyptian Founder and Editor-in-Chief Ibrahim Abdelhady spoke with Egypt Today about the magazine on Thursday by phone about the magazine.
“We first started as researchers in search of new architectural trends, discovering unsponsored projects for young architects and more. I started on my own at first and I focused on discovering really good ideas whose owners did not have enough funds to publish or market them, and that is when Arch2O played its role,” Abdelhady told Egypt Today.
The publication caters to good ideas in the field of architecture and features the unique value each project holds, emphasizing its difference from the projects that are well-funded and marketed in the industry, according to Abdelhady.
The magazine was originally named ‘H2O,’ the element for water, which was “a symbol to our team joining from all over the world.”
“We were running a virtual office and acting as water transforming from phase to phase in our daily routines until we reached a strong management system and, although we are registered in the U.S., we are receiving contributions worldwide,” Abdelhady said.
Created by a group of Virginia Tech graduates - including Abdelhady – along with architects and participants in architectural academia, Arch2O was created as an international platform for creative young people relevant to architecture including students, academics and professionals who unveil untraditional designs and ideas, according to Arch2O’s official website.
“The magazine’s funding is based on ads and volunteers. We’re working on a basic income in the first four years of launching; however the special thing about the magazine is that it is 95percent dominated by female workers who are very patient in classifying and reviewing projects,” he added.
In an effort to encourage valuable architecture projects, the magazine has established two programs to encourage worldwide student participation including Arch2O Internship and Arch2O Students’ Week.
The internship program comprised of only four interns in 2013 and grew later on to reach 15 interns on board of each internship round who were selected from 500 applications submitted each round.
Interns work in a collaborative research group supervised by the magazine’s editors, where they learn to review projects and develop their skills for intercultural communication.
The Students Week Program was established to feature creative projects by students worldwide. The magazine has featured nine Students’ Weeks during which it received over 3,000 student projects from over 32 countries worldwide. The magazine has published over 6,000 articles and received 4,150 projects to this day.
“The Students’ Week is a special initiative to publish student works and despite the exhausting process of reviewing these projects, we managed to publish 30 out of 1,300 projects received from around the world, including [submissions from] reputable universities such as Harvard and Stanford,” explained Abdelhady. The top five projects were given certificates of honor by Arch2O.
Asked about the relationship between architecture and culture, Abdelhady said architecture is the last field in the world that reflects art as it is rarely affected by cultural moves in societies.
“Architecture tends to reflect the cultural identity that is imposed in a certain society and preserves it for long years unlike art shows that can be showed in museums or galleries for a certain period of time to a certain audience,” said Abdelhady.
Abdelhady gave as an example Egyptian society during the 1940, which was comprised of elite groups who built many of the buildings in old districts in Cairo such as downtown and Zamalek.
“The Egyptian elites were influenced by European architecture structures they witnessed abroad through their travels, thus the buildings built in the country during that time reflected their taste. This was one of the cultural integrations with architecture that reflected in buildings standing for over 100 years, unlike usual artistic platforms,” added Abdelhady.
He also mentioned one of the special topics covered in the magazine, called “Five Important Days in Zaha Hadid’s Life,” an article depicting renowned architect Zaha Hadid’s life and her challenges throughout her career.
An Iraqi-British architect, Hadid was the first woman to receive the Pritzker Architecture prize in 2004 and the Stirling Prize in 2010. “The article emphasizes the many rejections that Hadid received, including the rejection [of her proposal for] France’s Eiffel tower because her ideas were modern and they wanted a more classical idea,” Abdelhady said. “Hadid was about to quit the world of architecture until she met a prospering opportunity after several rejections.”
He added that this article was meant to encourage young architects to keep going on their path despite the many rejections they may receive.