After 10 years of work, an award-winning design firm called Mossesian Architectre, named after its founder, French architect Michel Mossesian, has finished renovating a historic urban area and riverfront in the city of Fez.
This redevelopment project started with open design competition for the rehabilitation of Place Lalla Yeddouna, as part of the $698 million MCA-Morocco Program financed by the Millennium Challenge Corporation, which was set up to help reduce poverty in Morocco through encouraging economic growth.
The structures by the river had been worn down to the brink of collapse by frequent flooding, according to the architects in charge. With their backs facing the river, the area had developed into a trash dump during dry spells and was frequently flooded during the spring.
Because these structures lacked natural light and ventilation, they were ill-suited to support the operations of the artists residing in the area. The experts were able to restore the river bank’s ability to withstand a flood level of one million years thanks to the chance to rebuild these edge buildings.
Architect’s Journal states that the project included the construction of nine new buildings in addition to the preservation of eleven pre-existing buildings and structures in Place Lalla Yeddouna,located in the center of the Medina.
The buildings are made to blend in seamlessly with the current urban fabric while offering improved and healthful working conditions for the city’s artisans.
The enhancements considerably improved living and working conditions for the local community and served as a display of traditional crafts for tourists visiting the Medina. These changes ultimately catalyzed economic and social growth in the region.
The project has workspaces as well as shops, dining, and café areas, exhibition and educational spaces, a women’s center, a post office, a fire station, a nursery, and a tourist information center.
Traditional building methods were employed, resulting in structures composed of handcrafted bricks and organic render, whose thermal mass facilitates passive interior cooling. The new buildings’ basements were designed with labyrinths that circulated cooled air up via cavity walls.
The Agency for the Development and Rehabilitation of the city of Fes believes that now, “Place Lalla Yeddouna is expected to be a cultural site exemplary of our time and the region, and a stimulator and generator for the development of other projects in Fes, its region and Morocco.”