The “Foundok Dar Dbagh”, located at the entrance to the medina of Tangier, on the south side, and built in the 17th century to accommodate visitors to the Medina, was initially established in a commercial and craft area, not far from the port and close to Borj Hajoui and the Great Mosque.
For about three centuries, the building retained its function of “Foundok”, sheltering visitors to the old medina. It offered an example of authentic Moroccan architecture, with great walls and internal water sources. With the extension of the extramural Medina, the building experienced a period of deterioration until it became a black spot for the inhabitants of the district, attracting the homeless and infested with rodents.
In a historic area, steeped in tangible and intangible heritage, those in charge of the rehabilitation and enhancement program for the old Medina of Tangier (2020-2024) have taken care to revive this building and give it a role in the socio-economic revitalization of the Medina.
The rehabilitation work is drawing to a close and it is already revealing an architectural gem, which had previously lost its magnificence due to accumulated dust, parasitic plants that had grown on the walls, crumbling walls and floors and dilapidated doors and windows. .
An envelope of approximately 1.2 million dirhams has been allocated to this operation of rehabilitation and enhancement of Foundok Dar Dbagh, erected on an area of 340 m2, on two levels, and which owes its name to the activity of tanners in a time already distant.
Foundok Dar Dbagh converted into a modern building
Currently, Foundok Dar Dbagh has become a modern building with a new function which consists of welcoming rural women who market local products. The building was designed as a souk in the heart of the old Medina with modern management and attractive exhibition galleries.
The walls of the dilapidated building were consolidated in accordance with the architectural model of the time, in particular through the tiling of the stone floors and the covering of the wooden roofs, that is to say the dominant construction techniques in the 17th century. The building was further decorated with copper chandeliers with colored glass and the fountains were redone with traditional tiles (zellige) and the yellow taps of the time.
Regarding the work carried out on the building, the architect Taoufik Al Morabet, in charge of the project, stressed that Foundok Dar Dbagh is considered an important heritage of the old medina of Tangier, specifying that it was built in the 17th century during the reign of Sultan Moulay Ismail and served as a “foundok” for centuries before fading into oblivion some 70 years ago.
Mr. Al Morabet insisted that when carrying out the rehabilitation works, a set of standards practiced in the field of heritage rehabilitation were taken into account, in particular the techniques and methods of rehabilitation of walls, stone tiling and wooden planks, inspired by the techniques used by the masons of the time, to bring the site back to life.
A ripple effect
He also indicated that the building has benefited from rehabilitation and enhancement works, in order to transform it into a space to market local products, as part of the rehabilitation and enhancement program of the old medina of Tangier, in particular the section relating to strengthening the tourist and economic attractiveness of the old medina, noting that this initiative will make it possible to employ at least 20 women who produce or market this type of product.
According to the architect, this program, which is implemented by the Agency for the Promotion and Development of the North (APDN), under the direct supervision of the wali of the Tangier-Tetouan-Al Hoceima region, also involves stakeholders of local civil society to preserve the memory of places and their management, and to ensure the participation of the local population in rehabilitation projects.
In this sense, Mohamed Saïd Bekkali, representative of the Place Dar Dbagh association for tourism development, stressed that the entire district has benefited from a rehabilitation and repair project as part of the rehabilitation and enhancement program of the city. he old medina of Tangier, highlighting the colossal efforts made, which bring great added value to the district in terms of cleanliness, the problem of the homeless and the beauty of the places in order to attract tourists.
He also estimated that the Foundok Dar Dbagh restoration initiative will create stable employment positions, especially in the marketing of local products.