Traces of Roman town planning (decumani, cardi and colonia julia) exist in many locations of the wider Carthage region. Over this grid of historic memory, Sgoutas Architects made studies with detailed proposals on the development around the archaeological sites of Carthage, and more particularly on the hill of Byrsa and the area adjoining the Malga cisterns which includes the remnants of an ancient aqueduct.
The brief included two reception buildings for visitors – one for Byrsa and one for Malga – a building complex comprising a 500-seat theatre, boutiques for visitors, as well as covered and open-air communication links within the Byrsa and Malga sites.
At the highest extremity of the Byrsa site is located UNESCO square. At one of its sides terminates the vehicular traffic access to the principal Carthage archaeological site as well as to the church of St. John which dominates the whole Carthage area. The UNESCO square design combines planting, paving and seating. Provision has been made for a tall but simple “rectangular” arch which highlights the beginning of the downhill main axis through the Byrsa site. The overall landscaping is characterised by low-key interventions so as not to diminish the importance of the archaeological sites proper, which are not highlighted by significant in volume structures or relics. The aesthetic unification of the overall area is achieved through the use of common materials and repetitive elements.
The buildings have their own distinctive character so as not to diminish the impact of the past vestiges in their vicinity. The choice of plants was based on the familiar to us Mediterranean flora which is prevalent in the N-E part of Tunisia. The design includes a walkway through part of the cisterns and, facing the cisterns, open-air seating in theatre configuration. The 360º viewing platform at the top level of the Malga reception building, dominates the site.
An important constituent of the design was the creation of reference points that would be of interest even to the uninitiated in archaeology, the ultimate aim being to make the population at large, especially the young, more receptive to the cultural heritage of their country.
The buildings cover an area of 4500m² whereas the site interventions extend over 190000m². The design team involved specialists from Greece, Italy, England and Tunisia. The project has been co-funded by the Tunisian Ministry of Culture and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
Sgoutas Architects part of Design S.A. Group collab. for external works R.Taleb