RESEARCH . VOID
Location: Tangier, Morocco
Research: UCL BPro MArch UD RC12 2012/13
[ RESEARCH/URBAN DESIGN ]
'New Souk' Hui Xu, UCL BPro MArch UD RC12 2012/13
The term ‘souk’ means market which have existed since the 8th century AD along the ‘silk road’. Historically, they are catalysts for settlements. There are 850 souks in Morocco. Souks are ‘living organisms’ that their sizes and urban positions adapt according to their urban environments, which reflect the complex relationship between the inhabitants and centre of exchanges.
In Tangier city, the project redesign 'lifes of a souk'. During the First life, souk acts as a catalyst for settlements. During the Middle life, souk acts as a centre of exchange by introducing social, governance and culture infrastructures. During the After life, the previous centre of exchange transforms itself into different city public spaces after the souk has shifted to the next desired location. The strategic movements of souk acts urban catalysts and urban structuring elements, providing soft infrastructure and more importantly various of public spaces for the city of Tangier over time.
This design proposal addresses undeveloped, vacant lots located in the non-regulated residential settlements of Tangier. The proposal creates strategic mechanisms of infill to preserve and amplify the vacant lots’ already existing qualities of centrality and the potentiality of connecting neighbourhoods within the city. This will be done by a chronological application of sequenced interventions. The sequenced phases consist in a series of temporary/ pioneering interventions. In a next phase the gradual implementation of permanent, medium scale, community sized structures, which are understood as ‘platforms’, can start.
A main idea consists in getting official representatives closer to community-decision processes to improve on current urban issues. The ‘non-regulated’ areas including the vacant lots could be understood as an ‘incompleteness of the city/ of power’, constituting an opportunity to rethink, to unsettle conventional urban structures. The agglomeration of platforms could be seen as the physical manifestation of this opportunity.