Cultural Initiatives in North Africa and the Middle East
Project: Urban Landscape in Tunisia
Type: Architecture / Urban Planning
Organization: Mr. Jallel Abedelkafi
With the support of KLF, Kheireddine Palace (Museum of the city of Tunis) hosted the exhibition “Close-up, Urban Landscape in Tunisia” (Gros Plan, Paysage Urbain de Tunisie), from 12 May to 20 June 2017. Through this exhibition, Mr. Jallel Abedelkafi, an architect, landscape architect and an urban planner who is considered as one of the pioneers this field, records the founding history of the Tunisian urban landscape, which is tightly linked to the political and socio-economic history of the country.
This journey through time starts in the 19th century in the Medina of Tunis under the beylical reign. Retrofitting and sanitation projects in the Medina were undertaken and continued in the context of colonial urbanization. Starting from 1881, the “new city” was born, and it expanded beyond the Medina’s walls.
In the aftermath of the Second World War, rural migration and population growth would cause the “slumming” of the capital city. Tunis is divided into three main parts: an abandoned medina, increasingly large slum areas, and between these two worlds is the new Tunis, a town that became a symbol of success, since developed by “the protective power”, incarnated by the French Protectorate, and.
With the protectorate over, the authorities of the young Tunisian Republic began the spatial and urban reorganization. The new development and modernization plan of the city of Tunis brought about tensions, particularly with the desire to open the old town to automobile traffic. The Medina of Tunis became threatened, and it is in this context that the Association for the Safeguarding of the Medina of Tunis (ASM) was born. With the help of UNESCO, the ASM would conduct an architectural survey of 15000 houses in the Medina, which would allow setting out “the rehabilitation principles of social housing, and the urban regeneration of the historical center of Tunis”.
This exhibition does not stop at the city of Tunis, since it will present urban development plans of other large cities, such as Sfax, Hammamet, Sousse and Gabes.
These data, plans, figures and dates are collected in a detailed book of two hundred pages, published on the occasion of an exposition entitled “Urban Landscape in Tunisia, Close-up” (Paysage urbain de Tunisie, Gros plan).