AUC Press Publishes New Edition of DUST, a Photographic Compilation of Abandoned Palaces and Grand Buildings in Egypt

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The American University in Cairo Press (AUC Press) has released a newly revised and expanded edition of Dust: Egypt’s Forgotten Architecture by Xenia Nikolskaya. With photographs by Nikolskaya and contributing essays by Heba Farid and Omar Nagati, the book is a stunning photographic compilation of Egypt’s abandoned palaces and grand buildings.

Between 1860 and 1940, Cairo and other large cities in Egypt witnessed a major construction boom that gave birth to extraordinary palaces and lavish buildings. These incorporated a mix of architectural styles, such as Beaux-Arts and Art Deco, with local design influences and materials. Today, many lie empty and neglected, rapidly succumbing to time.

In 2006, Xenia Nikolskaya, an award-winning Russian-Swedish photographer, began the process of documenting these structures, gaining exceptional access to them and taking photographs at around thirty locations in Egyptian cities including Cairo, Alexandria, Luxor, Minya, Esna, and Port Said. These photographs were featured in the first edition of Dust: Egypt’s Forgotten Architecture, which soon after its release in 2012 became a rare collector’s item.

“Dust explores the conditions and relevance of empty architectural spaces in Egypt, presenting an entwined dualism: dust as materiality that layers the city, literally tracing the passage of time upon urban objects–but also as a temporal metaphor that registers these changes on the level of memories, both past and present,” said Nikolskaya.

The revised and expanded edition of the 160-page hardcover book includes 82 color photographs from the first edition, with additional unseen images and new photographs taken by Nikolskaya between 2013 and 2021. It also includes unpublished essays by Heba Farid, co-owner of the Cairo-based photo gallery Tintera, and architect and urban planner Omar Nagati, co-founder of CLUSTER, an urban design and research platform in Cairo.

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Founded in 1919, The American University in Cairo (AUC) is a leading English-language, American-accredited institution of higher education and center of the intellectual, social, and cultural life of the Arab world. It is a vital bridge between East and West, linking Egypt and the region to the world through scholarly research, partnerships with academic and research institutions and study abroad programs. 

The University offers 40 undergraduate, 52 master’s and two PhD programs rooted in a liberal arts education that encourages students to think critically and find creative solutions to conflicts and challenges facing both the region and the world. 

An independent, nonprofit, politically non-partisan, non-sectarian and equal opportunity institution, AUC is fully accredited in Egypt and the United States.