Tunis hotel threatened with demolition focus of exhibition

The 1970s hotel, which boasts a rare inverted pyramid structure that has been billed as the inspiration behind a building in the “Star Wars” films, has been closed to the public for nearly two decades.
Sunday 27/12/2020
The exhibition focus on one of Tunisia's architectural symbols at risk: the Hotel du Lac. (Facebook)
The exhibition focus on one of Tunisia's architectural symbols at risk: the Hotel du Lac. (Facebook)

TUNIS – A new exhibition in Tunisia’s capital will focus on the cultural and creative potential of the city, centring on a 1970s brutalist hotel that risks being demolished.

“Tunis centre ville x patrimoine,” organised by Central Tunis, the Goethe Institute Tunis and the association “Edifices et Mémoires,” features art-work, sculptures and engravings, frescoes, photographs and caricatures that highlight the city’s development potential.

It is also putting on a diverse lecture series around the city, as well as guided tours led by experts in culture and urban planning, workshops and writing seminars.

The events seek to highlight the importance of preserving Tunisia’s diverse cultural and architectural heritage, a topic that has gained prominence due to the status of the run-down Hotel du Lac in Tunis’s city centre.

The 1970s hotel, which boasts a rare inverted pyramid structure that has been billed as the inspiration behind a building in the “Star Wars” films, has been closed to the public for nearly two decades and fallen into a state of disrepair. In 2011, it was bought by the Libyan government-owned Lafico fund, which planned to demolish it.

A member of the organizers is putting putting the finishing touches. (Central Tunis facebook page)
A member of the organizers is putting putting the finishing touches. (Central Tunis Facebook page)

However, Tunisian civil society groups and activists have since campaigned to save the hotel and other important architectural symbols that risk being erased.

Speaking at a press conference Wednesday, Goethe Institute Tunis Director Andrea Jacob said it was critical to support projects to preserve Tunisia’s heritage and architecture, including by safeguarding the city’s monuments for the sake of national memory.

Tunisian architect Safa Cherif, a member of the “Edifices et Mémoires” association, specifically called for the Hotel du Lac to be protected and preserved.

 “She called for its exploitation without damaging its architectural aspect, pointing out that the State must intervene and act to make the city’s monuments pillars of economic, tourist and cultural development in close cooperation with the civil society,” Tunis Afrique Press reported.