Intermediate 16 Selina Zhang, Bang Bang, 2016-17

Archaeology of the Future: Exploring Tangiers

Salwa Mikou and Selma Mikou

If I said that Tangiers struck me as a dream city, I should mean it in the strict sense. Its topography was rich in prototypal dream scenes: covered streets like corridors with doors opening into rooms on each side, hidden terraces high above the sea, streets consisting only of steps, dark impasses, small squares built on sloping terrain so that they looked like ballet sets designed in false perspective, with alleys leading off in several directions. - Paul Bowles, "Image of Tangiers", Autobiography, 1972

The Moroccan city of Tangiers sits at a crossroads of civilisations - the closest African city to Europe, it has supported a mixture of cultures that since the fourth century BC have included Phoenicians, Romans, Berbers, Vandals, Arabs, Portuguese, Spanish, English and French. More recently, from 1923 to 1956, Tangiers became a destination for a number of writers and artists from all over the world: Henri Matisse, Jean Genet, Paul Morand, Truman Capote, Paul Bowles, Samuel Beckett, Tennessee Williams. Today, however, the city is in in danger of becoming dispossessed of its mythical past through years of rapid urban development. The city's architectural heritage has been largely destroyed or abandoned, creating a kind of semantic gap in its residents abilities to comprehend or appreciate architectural reference.

This year Intermediate 16 will explore positive transformation strategies to revive this architectural heritage, similar to those we adopted in Paris last year. Undertaking a sort of archaeology of the future, students will be invited to look for the origins of forms, researching reminiscences from the multitude of cultures that once sustained the city. More specifically, each student will choose a representative existing building and will transform it into a new institution, either cultural or educational (theatre, museum, university, library, etc), with complex programmatic scenarios to allow creative hybridisation and urban renewal. These buildings themselves will have emerged out of research into four areas within the city: the medina, the Kasbah, the old city and the port of Tangiers opposite the Straits of Gibraltar. Through making large-scale models, collages and material experiments, students will learn to understand architecture's ability to create new forms of space-making inspired by strong historical and cultural narratives.


Salwa and Selma Mikou founded their Paris-based Mikou Studio in 2006. Both studied at Paris-Belleville School of Architecture and have since worked at a number of international practices, namely Ateliers Jean Nouvel (Salwa) and Renzo Piano (Selma). Since founding Mikou Studio they have won numerous competitions worldwide. In 2014 they were selected to take part in the Moroccan pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale. Most recently they were nominated for the 2016 Arcvision Prize for women in architecture.

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