Lecture 4. Medina, Hydraulic Infrastructures and Urban Structures

From Herat (Afghanistan) to Sevilla (Spain), from Damas (Syria) to Fez (Morocco), Islam was able to build very large architectural and urban structures, yet there is no single Islamic city model. While early Islamic urbanism was indeed often tied to pre-existing settlements, a constant reference to Islam’s Arabic origins can be found. All around north Africa and south Europe under the Islamic reign, the dense and fortified settlements which are known as Medina were developed. This form of human colony characterizes other type of settlement of the region, in contrast to the oasis model or Casbah, although both are strongly related to water networks and architectural techniques. The medina is the city itself surrounded by walls with towers and monumental gates that had both defensive and economic functions (political control of trade). By Focusing on two well-known examples of Medina of Fez (in Morocco) and Tlemcen (in Algeria), this lecture focuses on the relationships between hydraulic systems and these particular urban forms in the region. But, how these dense urban fabrics were supply with water and how the different elements of hydraulic systems respond to the urban socio-spatial organizations? These are the questions we try to answer in the lecture.

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