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Exploring contextual characteristics of traditional medinas in north Africa

Abudib, Huyam H. (2016) Exploring contextual characteristics of traditional medinas in north Africa. ArchNet-IJAR: International Journal of Architectural Research, 10 (1). pp. 325-343. ISSN 1938-7806

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Abstract

In an age of globalization and standardization, cities around the world are losing their historical and cultural identity. Traditional cities of the Muslim world, in particular, are witnessing an increased transformation in their urban fabric, which is extremely different from their original one, and not necessarily better. This paper explores the historical precedents of three traditional medinas in North Africa, which are Tripoli, Tunis and Fez, from a comparative perspective. The aim of this study is to analyse key contextual characteristics of these cities in an attempt to derive key principles that are capable of improving the contemporary built environment and safeguarding the cultural identity of traditional medinas. The paper concludes with a number of lessons learned from the visual form, urban pattern and land-use of traditional medinas, and sets out challenges that face decision makers and designers in manifesting the essence of traditional medinas in contemporary urban form.