Date of Submission

Spring 5-2-2018

Degree Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Architecture



Primary Advisor

Ermal Shpuza

Secondary Advisor

Elizabeth Martin-Malikian


Shrinking cities are those which have experienced sustained depopulation over time. This phenomenon typically occurs in industrialized countries around the world as a result of economic downturn, social tension, or climate related change. When depopulation occurs, remaining communities are often met with unsustainable conditions as they are forced to function in a city designed for many times their population. While these conditions could be seen as negative, this design thesis aims to re-frame urban shrinkage as a condition that reveals unprecedented sustainable design opportunities. The United States Rust Belt region contains many shrinking cities such as Cairo, Illinois which due to its rich cultural heritage and ecological context presents itself as an ideal site for investigation. Through a systematic analysis of historical context, regional characteristics and existing conditions that may be used for other shrinking cities, this thesis proposes an ecologically inclusive design response in Cairo that addresses the specific needs and strengths of its community. A series of public space and building typologies that investigate regionally specific sustainable design strategies are proposed and strategically sited through analysis of Cairo’s street network. By prioritizing community engagement, historical context, ecological connections, re-purposing existing infrastructure, and design flexibility, this thesis proposes the city of Cairo as university campus.

Included in

Architecture Commons