Morocco: Crafting the City
6 credits (INTAR-1511 + HAVC-1511-01)
Jan. 3-Feb. 1: The Fez, Morocco
Feb. 2-6: RISD
INTAR-1511 (taught by Eduardo Duarte )
In this studio course RISD students will engage with the reciprocity between craftsmanship and the adaptation of the built environment in the context of artisan economies. The course will use Handicrafts in Morocco as a case study to explore the balance between preservation and innovation in geographical contexts where the making of artifacts and environments today may associate heritage, tradition, know-how, societal-contract, and creativity as forms of craftsmanship. Over the course of a 4-week period RISD students will be based in the World Heritage site of the city of Fez combining an immersive learning environment with periodic study tours in Morocco. RISD students will participate in a series of workshops in collaboration with Artisan Centers exploring how a combined millenary confluence of cultures and planned societal organizational systems are reflected over time both in the handicraft sector and the adaptation of the built environment in Fez.
RISD students will participate in a multi-lateral exchange of ideas and perspectives. Using the direct collaboration with the Liberal Arts course; the resources and know-how of Moroccan Artisans Centers; and visits, lectures and interviews in Morocco to observe and directly experience craftsmanship in context as a process to engage with specific challenges that artisans' economies face in today's global economy. During the course students will study craft in reference to the adaptation of the built environment simultaneously as a form of heritage and socio-economic development: where past and present technical, cultural and social protocols associated with handicrafts are on the one hand a vital form of preservation and transfer of know how; while on the other hand a driving factor for employment of youth and the functioning of the local and export markets.
RISD students will be exposed to an immersive learning experience in Morocco as an opportunity to speculate to what extent existing and emerging compositional principles observed and experienced on site may generate systems for representing nature and order in reference to local and global contextual changes. The studio will use the millenary labyrinth and mosaic nature of the narrow streets of the Medina of Fez to analyze the notion of the interiority in the way building tradition and community coexists in a place listed as a UNESCO world heritage site. Over the course of their study in Fez students will observe and survey existing buildings in a neighborhood in the urban fabric assessing how the combination of mixed-used program activities and services related to artisan's economy might become a catalyst for development and local residents.
The studio will be collaborating with the Ministry of Handicrafts to identify a site in one neighborhood in the Medina where students' may transfer their direct observations in the field in dialogue with the faculty and team of experts to particular projects; or in developing a collective project addressing specific programmatic strategies for adapting the space to a possible cultural, educational, commercial or residential program. Throughout the survey and exploration process on site students will explore a broad of range of compositional and adaptation principles in direct dialogue with the context of study.
The field project is the culmination of students learning experience in Morocco. The project is based on the design of a space in the Medina of Fez that collects samples of the experiments created during the workshops in the Artisans' centers in context as well as the methods in which students responded to the broad open question in how a site in the Medina might become a catalyst for development and local residents. Students will use the selected site to map, propose and model series of micro interventions
At the scale of inserts, additions to the built environment that may evoke new possibilities to increase the spatial performance of the existing site and its programmatic demands. The final project offers the opportunity for students to analyze compositional principles in reference to how materials come together and the underlying logic inherent to the application or development of craft in context. The programming offers students to design an interface between private and public environments exploring the notion of interiority in urban space in the Morocco social and cultural contexts. Students are expected to document and transport their work to campus for final presentation.
HAVC-1511-01 (taught by TBA)
This travel course is a by-product of the collaboration between the Ministry of Handicraft in the Royal Kingdom of Morocco and the Rhode Island School of Design. We will explore the Craft Industry in Fez, the cultural capital of Morocco and the site of the oldest citadel of learning in the World, the University of Al Karaquine --established in 859 AD. From our base at the Artisan School and Cooperatives we will focus on the famous leather, ceramics, wood, jewelry, metal and textiles Industries. Our aim is to interrogate the complex but multifaceted history of Architecture and the Built environment, Craft and Industry, Global and Local Exchanges and the interaction of peoples, cultures and ideas, and how these have shaped the concepts of Nationalism and Identity especially in a Globalized economy where the machinery of State is deployed as a tool of Patronage and Nation Building in the Postcolonial environment of the 21st Century.
Through lectures, workshops and interviews, augmented with periodic visits to historical sites in and around Fez, and other venues of cultural and artistic productions throughout the Kingdom, Students are expected to document their travel experiences by means of video, photography, journaling, as well as line and watercolor sketches among several other medium of creative expressions. The course will conclude with Students' presentations of critical and artistic reactions and/or reflections of their unique travel experiences. Participation in a final collaborative joint project is required.
Permission of Instructor required. Open to sophomore and above; course is not open to first year students.
Estimated Travel Cost: TBA