Tunisia’s Architectural Marvel to face the bulldozer

The influence of Hotel du Lac in Tunis, shaped like an upside-down pyramid with serrated edges, would later be seen in the fictional Sandcrawler vehicle used by the Jawas of the Tatooine desert planet in the film.

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The brutalist hotel designed by Italian architect Raffaele Contigiani features 416 rooms across ten floors of increasing width. The du Lac enjoyed a glamorous heyday after opening its doors in 1973, with singer James Brown reportedly among its A-list clientele.

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But the good times faded the hotel closed in 2000 and has stood empty ever since. In 2011, former President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali sold the property to the Libyan government-owned investment fund Lafico. Plans to redevelop the site were subsequently announced but never enacted.

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In February, architect and activist Sami Aloulou of the conservation group Edifices et Memoires (Buildings and memories) announced on Tunisia’s Radio Misk that the hotel was scheduled for imminent demolition. Aloulou’s statement prompted an outcry on social media from architecture lovers.

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