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A Project in Place Lalla Yeddouna, Medina of Fez, Morocco

Part 2 Project 2011
Wesley Liew
National University of Singapore, Singapore
Before being the name of the city, Fez was the name of a river, A story supposedly told by writers and thinkers who lived in Fez, claims that the river was named, in ancient times, after the explorers sent by Moulay Idriss Ist (King of Morocco, 8th century) in search of an ideal location for a new city.

This ancient city grew aggressively through craft trades on both banks of the river. Today, a distinctive odour defines the river and it’s artisans. The river is now poisoned and tamed through the nature of urban power and it’s artisans’ polluting activities, and hence left without a voice, without its ability to defend or sustain its memory.

Set within its decomposing ruins, this thesis goes beyond contemplating the immediacy of the site and program but aspires to deal with larger environmental issues that plagued the medina of Fez. The desire hence focuses primarily on healing and encouraging the ongoing layering of memories and contemporary interest in the artisans’ heritage through the recovery of the river, an organic approach that aspire to breathe new life into the dilapidated scarred landscape.

An architectural device of the water remediation/filtration wall at once roots the project to the river as well as the programmatic use of water in artisanal activities. The wall uses material of crushed masonic remnants of the torn buildings, evoking its sense of place and history, but is at the same time a precise and contemporary solution to the environmental problems arising from artisanal activities in the past. The strong aesthetics created through the use of the wall as architectural device binds old and new building fragments and the relation of water and architecture, artifice and nature. The new filtration wall now allows water to seep further into the dry arid environment and brings people from the program spaces to the edges of the river where previously being hidden and shun away.

Fez, the wild old river, is also now of another kind of flow. The river that of the dead valley, now runs within the old and new fabric spaces of the Medina’s core, activating houses and markets and temples and fountains and unexpected squares, and the never ending streets. The Medina will continue to live in this flow…

Wesley Liew


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