Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Fez facelift

In addition to all the splendid new fountains gracing Fez, there are also plans afoot to upgrade the central square, Place Florence.

Plan for a re-vamped Place Florence, with Boulevard Hassan II on the right

The square, less well-known as Place Yacoub al-Mansour, does look pretty seedy at the moment, with its dusty trees and bare concrete. It's not at all in keeping with the elegant swathe of palm trees and fountains along Boulevard Hassan II, so this will be a very welcome addition to the Ville Nouvelle.

This plan has been submitted by the Mikou Design Studio, owned by Fez-born sisters Salwa and Selma Mikou. It's gratifying to see yet another proposal from Moroccan women architects and urban planners - Aziza Chaouni's plans for the tanneries and R'cif (see the story here) is another example.

Artist's impression of the new square

Mikou Design Studio explains that Place Florence is situated in a strategic area in the new town, and has important pedestrian flow. The remodeling of the square aims to create a space for encounters and meetings at a pedestrian scale and the scale of the neighborhood, but also a place clearly identifiable as a representative part of the modern Fez.

"This symbolic place evokes Florence to the people of Fez, inspires and moves them", says the design team.

"It is a vehicle for dialogue between cultures and recalls the journey of architectural forms. In designing the square, we were inspired by a strong and symbolic figure in the Florentine urban landscape, the octagonal form of the Baptistery of San Giovanni. We felt it essential to bring strong architectural elements to Place Florence to give it an urban presence and limit it spatially.

Salwa and Selma Mikou attended school in Paris and Lausanne, and received their diplomas in Architecture and Urban design in 2000. Since then, they have worked in Paris, Doha, Los Angeles, Seoul, Beirut, Rabat, Kuwait and London. They founded Mikou Design Studio in 2005.


Piggy said...

Bravo Ladies - well done.
I have always thought that Place Florence was a dump. Its pavement borders on the dangerous with holes and cracks all over. If this plan goes ahead when completed it MUST be maintained and that means constant repairs. The rest of the new town lacks maintenance. Why is this?

Helen Ranger said...

I've since come across more photos of this design, and am relieved to report that the plans show a parking facility under the square.

orucly said...


I hope the plans will be followed through, thanks for this buzz: I really didn't have a clue about such thing happening ^^.

*Need to share on the fc*

By the way, it'd be very nice that "View from fez" would be on Facebook, as a page or a profile, just to stay tuned to the latest news