Intermediate 16 Selina Zhang, Bang Bang, 2016-17

Archaeology of the Future: Exploring Tangiers

Silvana Taher and Rodolfo Rodriquez

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.


Silvana Taher is a writer and architect. She studied Economics and Politics at UCL (BA) and Development and Planning (Diploma) at the Bartlett School of Architecture. She gained her Diploma in Architecture at the AA in 2011 and has been teaching since 2012. Her writing has appeared in the AA Files, Publica, Blueprint and the AR.

Rodolfo Rodriquez holds a BA (Hons) in Architecture with First Class from Oxford Brookes University, an MArch in Architecture with Distinction from UCL, and an MSt in Building History from the University of Cambridge. His research in academia, funded in part by The Leverhulme Trust and The Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, has sought to represent techniques of architectural design from the Late Middle Ages and the Early Modern period. Professionally, Rodolfo has trained at the offices of David Chipperfield, Norman Foster and Richard Rogers, and has since established RRAW, a multidisciplinary organisation intended to engage aspiring designers. A practising etcher-printmaker, Rodolfo also devotes time to fencing and playing the organ.

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