Hassan Morshedy on building the world’s largest building: Skyline
Some projects are so ambitious that they have never been attempted before; that is the case with Skyline.
Once opened, the new Cairo-based property — according to Guinness World Records — will become the largest residential property in the world.
For Hassan Morshedy, CEO of Memaar Al Morshedy, Skyline’s goal is not about setting a record, but about solving a housing problem.
The introduction of more than 13,500 apartments into a single building—along with every conceivable amenity and service you would expect from an entire town, from nurseries and shops to cinemas and green areas—will help deal with the growing demand for real estate in Egypt where there is a housing deficit in middle- and upper-middle income housing.
Should the Skyline project be a success, it could very well change how people build residential communities going forward.
We sat down with Morshedy as part of Esquire’s 10-for-the-next-10 years issue. You can read the whole interview below.
What insights have you learnt about property over the last couple of years?
We’ve been in the industry for 35-years, and therefore we’ve been through all the ups-and-downs of the real estate industry in the region. What we’ve learnt is that people want to pay for value of living, and what we offer are aesthetics, beauty and affordability. Those are the elements that form the backbone of our company.
We have more than 70,000 customers in Egypt because there is a real demand. Egypt actually has a deficit of 500,000-600,000 units per year, in the middle and upper-middle class tier – so that is what we are focused on.
What excites you about the industry?
What excites me is that clients are becoming more and more educated about real estate. They know how to invest, where to invest and why to invest. Because we went through two revolutions in Egypt people have become very cautious about their money and they wanted to see where they could get the best ROI in terms of investment, from the banks or from real estate investment.
Real estate was very promising as there are very beneficial aspects that come with it: people can live in it, they can rent it, or they can sell it in a growing market.
What is the most important issue in your industry?
I think it would be the market, and what segment you want to invest in. Right now, I don’t think the market wants to invest in high-end luxury properties, it is much more interested in middle-income housing, and higher-income housing, which is a much wider bracket – and that is what we are focusing on right now.
In terms of community housing, I think all companies need to have an interest in, because that is the base of most populations. We have created properties for 40,000 families.
It is a totally new way of creating a community
You are currently building Skyline. Tell us more about that…
Skyline will be the largest residential building in the world, based on Guinness World Records. It’s a project unlike any other, not just in Egypt but anywhere in the world. Essentially, the goal is to solve a housing problem.
How can you have such a large building, that will house more than 13,500 apartments with around 100,000 people walking in and out of the building on a daily basis?
You are fixing a housing problem because you can fit so many people into the building. By going horizontal instead of vertical you can use the land in a much more sustainable way. The goal is to build all the amenities needed in an entire town within one destination, from nurseries and cinemas to shops and green areas. It is a new way of creating a community.
If Skyline is a success, could that lead to a different way of thinking about real estate properties?
I think so, we have done a similar project to Skyline but on a smaller scale, and the hugely successful with the people who bought the properties. We have been approached by several countries inquiring about potential projects similar to Skyline, and we are in the studying phase to analyze the situations – normally a project like this works best in cities where there is a high population density of and we are working on that now.
What also helps is that we are working with some world-leading talents including Mohamed Hadid, Van Der Pas in Barcelona, and Raef Fahmy. So we’ve used different types of architects and designers, each of who can bring a mix of experience and skillsets.
It also helps that in Egypt, there is a real demand for real estate. When your competition raises the bar, we have to sit down and look at how we can be the leading company in the region, and that is something that we can be very excited about.
What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?
The most rewarding aspect is that we change people’s lives, we cater to middle and upper-middle income families and being able to provide people amenities and services that they didn’t have before, as well as allowing them to increase the value of their investments makes me very happy.