MAKINAMEDINA: Reconfiguring the Relationship Between Geography and Event in the City of Fez

Harvard University – Graduate School of Design – Spring 2007 – GSD 1511 Tuesdays and Thursdays 2:00-6:00 pmInstructors:Hashim Sarkis: [email protected] office hours: wed. 2:00-4:00 PMAziza Chaouni :[email protected] office hours: wed. 4:00-6:00 PM SUMMARYHow can an urban event help ameliorate the conditions of the city? The studio addresses the question through the design of the Bab el Makina Square located in the old Medina (medieval city) of Fez, Morocco. Rediscovered by the world renowned Sacred Music Festival, which uses it as its main concert venue for one week every summer, Bab el Makina Square and its surroundings otherwise remain abandoned despite their strategic location between the three main districts of the city, Fez Jdid, Fez Bali, and la Ville Nouvelle. The aim of the studio is to use the orchestration of events that turn Bab el Makina into the main grounds of the festival as an opportunity to generate a permanent design for the area and to rethink the geography of the city around the scenography of the event. Bab el Makina is located at the northern edge of Fez Jdid, an extension of the medieval city of Fez completed in 1276. Fez Jdid (or the new Fez) was originally planned as a royal quarter, comprising the royal palace with its gardens and mechouars (large open spaces where the sultan addresses his people), housing for the court, and a Jewish quarter, the Mellah. The square of Bab el Makina is a liminal space, standing between the city walls and the royal palace. During the period when Fez was Morocco\’s capital, Bab el Makina served as a ceremonial space, where the Sultan received dignitaries and ambassadors. During the nineteenth century, it served as an extension of an arms factory located to its west. When the factory closed down during the French protectorate and was transformed into a carpet weaving workshop, the square was used as a vending area, its two gates opened to the public, becoming a major entryway to the old city from the French extension, la ville nouvelle. Finally, when the carpet workshop went bankrupt in the 1980s, Bab el Makina was reduced to a busy thoroughfare, until it was rediscovered by the Sacred Music Festival in 2000. The stunningly stark and elongated square of Bab el Makina becomes alive during the week of the Festival but unfortunately remains closed to the public for the rest of the year. The students of the studio will first lay out the space for the event and organize access and temporary urban forms around it. Each student will then design a prototype for one of the installations (e.g. exhibition and ticket booths, seating, parking entrances, landscaping). These installations will actually be built by the organizers of the festival and used this summer. The students will then take the experience of the temporary set-up to bear on their designs for a permanent layout for the Bab el Makina area by extending the same set up to other future events like a culinary festival, a book fair, and other cultural events, and more importantly to address the larger and more permanent needs of the city in terms of connectivity, accessibility, public life, and land use. Part of the permanent program will include a culinary arts center, a public parking, a park, and short term residences for participants in the events. These programs will be integrated within the ruins of the weapon factory as well as the empty sites around it. DESIGN AGENDA The main design ambitions of the studio are to:- Study the relationship between the urban event and the normative performance of a public space- Rethink open space in terms of its geographic role in the organization and perception of the city (and in th