• Muqarnas—Sacred Grounds
    Radhi Ben Hadid, Meriem Chabani & John Edom
    Ecole Nationale Supérieure d'Architecture de Saint Etienne, Saint-Etienne, France
    Jun 2024
    Radhi Ben Hadid, Meriem Chabani & John Edom

New South, "Muqarnas," 2022. Digital section view. Courtesy New South

Muqarnas are a decorative geometric honeycomb molding applied to a ceiling vault, common to many local variants of traditional Islamic architecture. New South—the Paris-based architectural firm—transforms the Muqarnas into a cutting-edge structural system formed of interlocking pieces, designed using parametric computational tools and fabricated in industrial grade ceramic. In secular societies, the sacred has all but disappeared from the urban realm, often confined to specific religious spaces set apart from society. Muqarnas is a call for cities to reinvest the notion of the sacred as a mode of regeneration, care, and sanctuarization of the built and natural environment. Might a sacred covenant for defining collective value and priorities beyond economic development prefigure the emergence of sustainable cities? Ultimately, the pavilion points toward new forms of shared guardianship and care of our living environments.

Radhi Ben Hadid is an independent civil engineer specializing in the rehabilitation of reinforced and prestressed concrete (CHEBAP). He has extensive professional experience of engineering interventions in historic buildings, notably in collaboration with the firm Equilbre_Structures et SFICA. With a particular interest for new engineering techniques, he combines parametric design and optimization with mastery of conventional and historic engineering techniques. He is currently completing a master’s degree in nature-inspired design at the École Nationale Supérieure de Création Industrielle, Paris. Ben Hadid leads on production design, structural calculation, module interface resolution and industrial mold specification in collaboration with New South.

Meriem Chabani is an architect, urban planner, and founding partner at New South. She currently teaches at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture Paris Malaquais, Royal College of Arts in London, and HEAD Geneva, after teaching urban planning at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL). She has been a guest teacher at Royal Saint Martins, Mohamed VI Polytechnic University, and the Ethiopian Institute of Architecture, Building Construction and City Development.

John Edom is an architect, anthropologist, and founding partner at New South. He graduated from the University of Sussex, United Kingdom with a master’s degree in anthropology in 2008 and a master’s degree in architecture from the Royal Danish Academy School of Architecture in 2017.