Spaces of unfreedom

The L shaped entrances of houses in the Old city or Medina are spaces in which the visitor coming from the outside public space announces themselves before entering the interior private space. These chicanes create a network of buffer zones in a space where the architecture is a physical translation of the social roles assigned to each gender.

 

 

Moving to the new city an accidental inversion of the moral order happens. The notions of “ayb” and “hchouma” (shame and taboo) are taken to a physical level: invisible restrictions in the public space.

 

 

Café terraces are examples of these invisible restrictions: the accessibility is not defined by wether the space is public or not but by how shameful or taboo is it for a person to be seen in it.

 

 

Order and harmony only exist when each group respects the “hudud” (boundaries). Any transgression leads to anarchy and violence.

 

 

“Si vous êtes tombés sous la tentation, faites-le discrètement” (Hadith that translates to “If you gave in to the temptation, do it discreetly”) What the chicane did in the Medina was not to separate the public space from the private almost sacred and secret space, rather to create a buffer zone that emphasise the idea of hiding or being very discrete. What if we were to create these spaces in the new city?

 

 

The spaces of unfreedom exist also outside of the Medina: they are all the space of inaccessibility. One step towards freedom is independence.

 

 

The nomadic populations in North Africa do not rely on “the grid” for mapping their territory but have their own system to define territories and boundaries relying of the climate, their own movements and the coalitions between tribes.

 

 

The point is neither to dismiss nor glorify the status of the marginal, alien others, but to find a more accurate, complex location for the transformation of the very terms of their specifications.

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