Fez, Morocco

Fez is one of the oldest imperial cities of Morocco, the others being Marrakesh, Meknes and Rabat. Over a long period of time Fez was the capital of the Kingdom and it is still today considered by many to be the intellectual and cultural heart of the country. The Medina of Fez was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1981. Fez is believed to be one of the world’s largest contiguous car-free urban areas. With the exception of very few small emergency and service vehicles, mules are the only means of transporting goods from one point to the other in Fez’s narrow pathways. Fez has long been known as the center of Morocco’s strong artisan tradition: traditional markets in Fez are called “souks” and are often organized in a series of endless small narrow streets.

Place Lalla Yeddouna

The neighborhood “Place Lalla Yeddouna” is a strategic location at the nucleus of Fez Bali, the old City of Fez. This area, where the City was founded on the two banks of the River Fez, was one of the key links between the two sides of the old city, Adouat al-Qarawiyine and Adouat al-Andalous. They are connected by the Bin Lamdoun bridge, which is one of Place Lalla Yeddouna’s important historic and architectural features. Place Lalla Yeddouna is well known for traditional handicrafts and is also outstanding for its dimensions- it is rare to find comparably large open spaces in the core of the Medina.

The Concept: creating a spatial filter.

The project’s main idea was to create a series of openings towards the river of Fez by multiplying the scheme of a traditional souk. This will allow the dense group of buildings on the east side of  Place Lalla Yeddouna to act as a “spatial filter”. The openings will take the function of a traditional marketplace-souk and are to be perpendicular to the river. As a result, new visual connections will appear and will underline the strategic location of the territory between the two parts of the old city – Adouat al-Qarawiyine and Adouat al-Andalous. The markets are organized in two groups – north and south of the Bim Lamdoun bridge. Production workshops are situated on the 2nd and 3d level, above the souk.