Hay Helal terraces | Chayma Oueslati

Third Award | Sports & Recreation

  • Project Info
  • Details
Participant  Name: Chayma Oueslati

University: Ecole nationale d’architecture et d’urbanisme de tunis

Country : Tunisia

Hay Helal terraces

Activities related to the extraction and exploitation of natural resources are varied in Tunisia. Quarries are one of them; but once their exploitation is finished, they are often considered as low-value lands and can become a source of environmental and landscape nuisance. However, some of them could have historical and social value and belong to sites of great natural and cultural interest. Such is the case of the abandoned limestone quarry of Hay Helal, a popular neighborhood located in the suburbs of Tunis; a city that has known, in the recent decades, an important urban growth.

The quarry has been exploited since the 1940s.  Abandoned for many years, it has undergone several forms of degradation such as the proliferation of illegal dumps and, more recently, the beginning of an anarchic urban sprawl. Nowadays it is one of the most important landscape elements. It appears as a discontinuity on the edge of a highly urbanized area.

On the other hand, the site has many assets. It covers an important area of approximately 6 hectares. It also offers interesting panoramic views over one of the biggest wetlands of Tunis (The Sijoumi sebkha), and it is of a great geological value. This design proposal, aims to provide ideas to reintegrate the quarry into its environment, in order to offer new opportunities for Hay Helal which suffers from a lack of sociocultural and recreational areas.

The architectural project is designed in zone 3. It is a socio-cultural facility designed in order to meet the needs and expectations of children and youth in the area. The interviews conducted with officials and residents reveal a great demand in terms of leisure activities and green spaces. The project aims, through its program, to help remedy such deficiencies by offering the population new spaces for expression and exchange.

It is characterized by a minimal intervention area; the aim is to preserve the site identity. The main design concepts are:

– Exploiting the rock faces and integrating them into the building.

– Adapting to the existing topography and offering panoramic terraces at different levels: The height of the building does not exceed the quarry faces.

-Making the building a crossing point between the upper and the lower parts of the neighborhoods, which reinforces its openness and increases the number of users.

-Using local stone as the main building material for a better integration into the site: the building skin is structured in horizontal layers inspired by the geological layers visible at the quarry faces. The design principle provides continuity between the hill, the bleachers and the façades, and works as sun-breakers.

The landscape project aims to clean up the quarry, turning it into a green lung for the surrounding neighborhoods. The rocky and rugged character, reflecting the industrial activity and the history of the area, is preserved and integrated into the overall landscape. Finally, the security of people is taken into consideration; a protective wall borders the upper limits of the quarry face.

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