Reflections: Sayed Karim, the Ouzounian Building, and Startup Haus Cairo

Sayed Karim, an Egyptian pioneer of Modernist Architecture born in 1911. At the age of 39, he designed the Ouzounian building, where our Startup Haus Cairo is based today on Talaat Harb Street, in the heart of Downtown Cairo. Built over 1000 square meters, this 18-story building captured attention as being the highest construction in the city in the 1950s. It was designed to host offices and apartments, alongside a hotel, a restaurant, a dancing hall, and a tea garden to reflect a blend of vintage and modernism. This model was the first of its kind, resembling a milestone for Modernist Architecture in Egypt. However, it was not the first and only move of Sayed Karim.

Entrepreneur to the core

At the age of 28, this brilliant engineer published the first Egyptian magazine for Architecture and named it Al Ima’ra. By starting it up, he set a groundbreaking approach that ran for 20 years afterward featuring tremendous architectural insights in Africa and the MENA region. He was also the one who coined the general architectural blueprint of Nasr City—which then contributed to planning most of the Arab cities including Riyadh and Damascus.

Contemporary startup hub in the heart of the city

In 2005, Sayed Karim passed away leaving behind his entrepreneurial inspirations that still stand on the ground–the historic Ouzounian building is one of them. Today, this building’s ground floor and first two stories are home to our startup space; where we built coworking areas, meeting rooms, and private offices, where entrepreneurs meet up with mentors and experts who come from everywhere around the world to learn, grow, and exchange ideas. It also houses a spacious arena and a cozy terrace where you can host events, exhibitions, gatherings, or even get together for a cup of coffee in the middle of your busy day.

We are grateful to Sayed Karim, for his exceptional design, and for his encouraging entrepreneurial journey, as well as we are thankful to our community of resilient entrepreneurs who are striving every day to create an impact and add value to our daily life.

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