The project's objectives were to provide upper-middle class housing with garden and commercial facilities in the old town centre, and to reconstitute the urban fabric of the area situated in the proximity of the Presidential Palace. La Marsa lies on the coast, some 16km northeast of Tunis and 3km northwest of the restored historic village of Sidi Bou Said. The city is renowned for its beaches and has recently developed into a resort area. Situated near the city centre and old Saf-saf Mosque, the project forms an elongated trapezoid which slopes gently towards the northwest. It is distinguished by a giant carob tree near its northern extremity. The site has vehicular access all around but is surrounded by a variety of buildings and land uses: a recent mosque square to the northeast, the Dar al-Sa'ada Palace and its park to the southwest, and relatively recent two-storey villas on its other sides.
This housing complex consists of 136 dwellings of two to four bedroom and a commercial centre comprising supermarket and 17 shops. The client wished to keep the carob tree and make it the centre of a square. The densely set out housing complex was designed with the aim of providing the advantages of individual housing. 19 housing blocks are arranged around the perimeter of the site around the large tree and its square, and around two other smaller squares. These blocks are mostly three-storey high, with an occasional four-storey block. The flats range from two to four bedrooms, laid out in duplexes or triplexes, with the exception of the ground floor apartments which generally have only one level. The apartments built in the first stage of construction are more spacious and display a more imaginative layout, using half-levels In later stages, only 5 or 6 plan types were used, but in combinations avoiding repetition and providing differentiated external massing. Each flat has an individual entrance at ground level, and privacy is further ensured by the provision of individual terraces and enclosed gardens. The commercial centre to the north comprises a supermarket and 7 shops. All external walls are painted white and the façades are distinguished by a variety of openings of different shapes and sizes. The form and colour of timber doors, balustrades, shutters and mashrabiyyas are based on traditional woodwork of the region.
Source: Aga Khan Trust for Culture