The uprisings of the North African Arab Spring exposed the fragility of countries whose citizens were eager to revisit and adapt their identities in the face of a changing world. However, it was impossible for these movements to be coupled with humanitarian pedagogical tools – training and guidance towards an equitable and open society – due to the difficulties of having dialogue between representatives of the different groups, which resulted in uprisings and violent incidents, including the self-immolations.
In the face of these hard facts, the European Union, associated with its redistributed formations among the countries, initiated a program (PARJ) to support criminal justice reform to restructure legal institutions, courts, and penitentiary infrastructures. The program aims to improve the efficiency of justice systems, to strengthen the rule of law during periods of democratic transition, preserve human rights, and to support the process of reforming the justice and penitentiary systems to meet European and international standards. The focus of the studio is Tunisia, the country in which the uprisings first began (in December 2010) and from where it then spread across neighboring borders.
This studio exercise will focus on a penitentiary infrastructure in Kairouan on the threshold of the Sahel, which means "border", "edge"—adjoining the dam of el Haouareb, which was built in 1989 to provide the resources needed to develop a community in extreme conditions.
The purpose of the studio will be to reimagine the penitentiary infrastructure as a place of learning that promotes humanitarian behavior in order to transform the minds of its residents, who are excluded from human society. The studio seeks to combine new space usage with socialization while drawing inspiration from Islamic culture to form the basis of a new paradigm for communal space where living, learning, and growing together are linked to the places people occupy, both alone and collectively.