Monday, March 21, 2016

Fulbright Alumna and Team on Mission to Transform their City

Maroua with team members Slim, Wael and Soufien (from left).
After completing my Fulbright grant and graduating with a degree in Urban Design from the University of Colorado, Denver, I decided to apply my newfound skillset by planning a redesign of the center of my home city, Sfax-Tunisia. Four architects and I designed an ambitious plan to improve public spaces while preserving the city’s heritage. The name of the proposed project, Trans. Ur, was chosen because the area is a transitional space between the old city and the new, and also because “Sur” or “Soor” is the Arabic word for rampart--- a medieval defensive wall.

Strategies of the Trans-Ur Place design program.

Unfortunately, the two substantial problems in this city section are first, that it is congested with car traffic and street vendors, and second, that it is also choked by pollution. Our comprehensive plan to improve these issues is to re-structure the spaces of ancient city center by using modern principles of design. Applying new architectural theories that I learned in graduate school will create a more vibrant and enjoyable space. Our project aims to improve existing flow by encouraging green, multi-use transportation in four phases:

The Trans.Ur Hub: During this phase, my team proposes to create a transportation hub that includes space for metro lines, buses and bicycles. This change will make the area more connected, walkable and accessible.

The Trans.Ur Historic District: New features implemented during this phase will highlight historic elements such as the ramparts, the Medina, the Kriaa market and the mausoleums. Under our plans, the city’s historic center will be well-preserved and sustainable.

Trans.Ur “ACT”: The “ACT” phase will place attention on “use” and “activities.” It will focus on making the plaza the entertainment section of Sfax, and will involve creating spaces for street workouts, parkour and free-form games. Enacting these changes will ensure that people can create their own spatial practices in the downtown area.
Multi-use activity area to be implemented during “ACT” phase.

Trans.Ur “24”: The “24” or 24-hour phase aims to make the area an engaging 24-hour zone complete with a dynamic nightlife scene. To achieve this, we plan to create a multi-use paved area that will serve as an all-hours venue for dance, theatre and folk shows.


Maroua Chaouechi graduated from the University of Colorado, Denver in 2015 with an M.A. in Urban Design.


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