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Performing Oasis

YAC in collaboration with EQI and the Italian Embassy in Cairo launch a call for ideas aiming to imagine the oasis of Siwa as a global capital for performing and site-specific arts.

Performing Oasis


Fragile ecosystems that have acquired a higher meaning than their mere environmental connotation.  

Oases are a liminal place with liminal contrasts, atavistic contrasts between vegetation and desert, life and death. There is something mystical about oases. There is something unreal and illogical, something that makes them places of imagination and dream, archetype and myth.  

The Siwa Oasis is situated between Libya and Egypt, clustered around the oily waters of vast salt lakes. It is indeed one of the most renowned and suggestive oases of the planet.  

Formerly home to the mighty oracle of Amon, Siwa is mentioned by Herodotus and numerous historians of ancient times. It is the place that stole the heart of Alexander the Great. Here is where he was proclaimed the son of the Egyptian god and where -according to the legend- he wished to be interred.

Not just desert and palm groves. Clung to sculpture-like massifs, the ruins of the ancient Shali are a chaotic mosaic of mud dwellings and salt rocks creating a breathtaking and diverse image. In Siwa numerous beauties chase and caress one another: the oasis, the desert, the temples and the ghost town.   

However magnificent and perfect it may be, in order to survive Siwa has to find its own role in the contemporary world. Life in the oasis is threatened by the swelling of salt lakes. Day after day, the ancient Berber ruins are turning into dust due to neglect and atmospheric agents.   

This is why Performing Oasis was established. This is the competition by EQI and the Italian Embassy in Cairo to protect and preserve Siwa by reinterpreting it as a modern theatrical machine. By making the most of its scenic magnificence, Siwa can become the perfect setting to host the performances of the most prestigious musicians, dancers, artists and creatives of the international scenario.      

This is the vision of the competition: Siwa as a global capital for performing and site-specific arts.  

Amid the ruins of the ancient Shali, against the backdrop of brackish lakes and the skyline of the Sahara dunes, the world's greatest performers will be able to rendezvous and be enraptured by the same spirits that inspired predictions and prophecies centuries ago. Here, they will find the ideal backdrop for their performances and secure Siwa's future as a powerful place of experimentation and creativity: by definition and finally election, an oasis of culture, innovation and wonder. 

YAC thanks all the architects who will take up this challenge.



First Prize


Emine Zeytin, Gülüzar Gözay, İbrahim Özvariş


Second Prize

Ruin of Ruins

Colton Newbury

Ruin of Ruins

Third Prize

GUC Team

Pardis Helmy, Salma Alaa, Nadeen Hesham, Nouran Mohamed

GUC Team

Gold Mention


Kaiyin Zhao, Yui Sun, Xiangyu Zhao, Hao Chen

Gold Mention


María Romero Freire, Inés Verónica Mapelli Oliva


Each jury is nominated with utmost care and is composed by professionals of the highest repute whose activity is consistent with the theme of the competition.


YAC thanks all the people who have been engaged in organizing the competition by sharing time, materials and resources to make the experience of architects unique.

SANAADavid Chipperfield ArchitectsTamassociatiEQIAmbasciata d'Italia Il CairoMatteo Thun & PartnersStudio India Mahdavi

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