Ancient Fez Storage Space Transformed into a Thriving Café Litérraire

Multiflex, Aziza Chaouni, green renovation, Fez, Morocco, Festival of Sacred Music, Aziza Chaouni Projects (ACP) was commissioned to upgrade the historic Dar Tazi compound in the medieval city of Fez in Morocco, and the completed transformation of an ancient storage space into a thriving Café Litérraire called Multiplex comprises the first of the project’s three phases.

Multiflex, Aziza Chaouni, green renovation, Fez, Morocco, Festival of Sacred Music,

Commissioned by the NGO Esprit de Fez led by the prominent Sufi scholar Faouzi Skalli, ACP renovated the café inside Dar Tazi – the garden of a 15th century palace built near the Batha plaza.

ACP gave the former storage space a face lift by adding a “porous” facade that permits natural light and ventilation and extending the nearby plaza to merge with the interior.

Designed as a public library, lounge, and events facility, the café is a flexible, mixed-use space that was renovated by local craftsmen using locally-sourced materials. The back wall opens up to a neighboring wall, and planted areas add a green aesthetic to the space.

Most recently the world-renowned Festival of Sacred Musics was held at the renovated Multiplex.

Multiflex, Aziza Chaouni, green renovation, Fez, Morocco, Festival of Sacred Music,

“Fez being our hometown and the Festival of Sacred Musics the cultural highlight of the city, we are proud to collaborate with the Association Esprit de Fez to design a vibrant public space open to all,” ACP said in January.

The second and third phase of the project involves restoring historic buildings and offices for the NGO as well as rehabilitating a historic garden.

The population of Fez has soared since the city walls were first built in 789, and courtyard houses dominate the urban fabric.

As a result, the 300 hectare medina boasts very little green space – at least 10 square meters per inhabitant less than recommended by the United Nations as a healthy standard.

ACP is working closely with the city and two NGOs to revive this UNESCO heritage site – the first palace garden to be opened to the public – with help from a grant from the US based NGO Tourism Cares.

A series of other renovation projects are ongoing as well, including the restoration of all synagogues throughout not just Fez, but all of Morocco.

All images via Aziza Chaouni

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