End-of-studies Design Project Teaching Innovation / Technology / Experimental Livability / Social Practices Obsolescence / Renewal / Recycling
Djibouti, Djibouti

Laba Dhaqan Dhexdooda : between two Worlds

Regeneration of the Djiboutian colonial city center
Original language
University course
Double Master's Degree Program ENSAS-CAUP Tongji

As part of the New Silk Roads, Djibouti has established itself as a key element in Xi Jinping's strategy and in the Sino-African equation due to its geopolitical position. Being a port city with an advanced maritime interface, the hinterland has not been able to develop in parallel. The challenge of this end-of-study project was to revitalize the colonial city center through culture and especially identity. The approach is inclusive, since it is to revitalize the technological and cultural local offer while maintaining the original architecture of this small state.
By pedestrianizing the colonial city center and operating an urban and architectural acupuncture, the subject of this diploma focuses on the regeneration of the old continental hotel, the Indian block and the Menelik square. Starting from these three urban and architectural entities, the objective is to propose an extension of the public space by the following programs. Coworking spaces, sewing workshops, dance spaces, musical practice ... All articulated by flexible platforms and mabrases (lounge where the local population consumes khat, a plant with psychotropic effects but legal and widely relayed in all layers of society).
As for the architectural concept, it is to treat the two existing buildings in mirror. Namely, workshops and offices emerging from the former continental hotel (as a pictorial framework witnessing a complex and sometimes taboo colonization) and a conquest towards the underground for the Indian island. In addition to the Menelik Square. The ecological and climatic stakes suggested in a natural way the creation of an underground because from 10 am to 5 pm the sun is king in this country. This project is articulated around a solar chimney acting as the natural extension of this inhabited Provencal well.
By mixing tradition and modernity, low-tech for the constructive methods and hi-tech for its use, the stake was to reveal architecturally this schizophrenia proper to this state. Deeply rooted in its traditions (hence the desire to induct this ancient nomadic population in its territory with the underground), but nevertheless major players in an increasingly dominant globalization.  

Laba Dhaxan Dhexdooda means between two worlds in Somali; between a pastoral history that must be transmitted and an assumed desire to become a Singapore of the red mother. Revealing this paradoxical character of Djibouti seemed essential because in the end "the country of the Afars and the Issas" turns out to be more than an empire of dust.


Keywords urban regeneration, colonial city heritage