Atlas for the Medina

In 2023 MATERIA sponsored a Harvard GSD programme focussed on the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Medina of Tunis. The project consists of a Design Studio and Research Lab in collaboration with the Critical Landscape Design Lab led by Professor Gareth Doherty.

As part of its urban regeneration ethos, MATERIA strongly believe that historical neighbourhoods such as the Medina holds tremendous value for a more inclusive and sustainable living and should be prioritised over the development of new neighbourhoods at the outskirts of cities.

Thus five sites (three under public ownership and two under private ownership were selected, representing five different typologies: a school (madrassa), an abandoned palace, a fondouk (caravansérail), a ruin that cannot be rebuilt and two smaller houses connected into a semi-public space.

Aware of the current issues of the Medina and building on its embedded strength, the five projects are part of a larger research into the value of the Medina of Tunis as a metaphor for a flexible model of urbanism that contain the seed for a higher-quality and more meaningful living on an environmental, social and mental/aesthetic register.

The project is ongoing and is to result in:

a) a studio report produced by Harvard GSD

b) a book in the works with a major international publisher

c) a development project that MATERIA intends to design and then deliver for the community of the Medina of Tunis