Aziza Chaouni


Just as the river races deep within the wadi of historic Fez, Chaouni’s project digs down, undoes and re-builds through the existing and fragile fabric of the historic center. Her unorthodox approach to architecture renews the path of the river and its banks as a circulation system for Fez.

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Architect, Structural Engineer & Ecotourism Designer

Aziza Chaouni focuses on projects that integrate architecture and landscape, and that ultimately give back to their communities. For years, she has worked to revive the Fez River, Morocco. Structural engineer and architect Aziza Chaouni creates sustainable, built environments in the developing world, focusing on the deserts of the Middle East. She collaborates closely with local communities and experts from other disciplines to integrate architecture, landscape and infrastructure in innovative ways. Born and raised in Fez, Morocco, Chaouni has long found herself fascinated with the Fez River, which winds through the city’s ancient Medina. Once considered the city’s soul, sending water to both public and private fountains, in the 1950s, the stream started to become a toxic sewer because of overcrowding, over-development and pollution. The city responded by covering the river over with concrete slabs, bit by bit, in the process destroying houses and creating dumping grounds. Overall, the Fez River project is revitalizing Fez as a living city. She was Co-Founder of Bureau EAST (Bureau of Ecological Architecture and Systems of Tomorrow) with Takako Tajima. Bureau EAST’s River remediation and urban development scheme in Fez, Morocco won several top design awards and recognitions.

Including Holcim Awards Gold 2008 for Africa Middle East; Holcim Gold Award 2009 for Sustainable Construction; Environmental Design Research Association’s “Great Places Awards”; American Society of Landscape Architects Design Award; and International Awards Eme3 Cities. Aziza Chaouni studied architecture at Harvard Graduate School of Design and civil engineering at Columbia University. She is now The Aga Khan Research and Teaching Fellow, as well as a Lecturer in Urban Planning and Design at the Harvard GSD. She is also a structural engineer and architect. With partner Jeannette Kuo, she is the Co-Founder of KCD, a multi-disciplinary design collaborative, which works on projects in the US, Europe, and North Africa. She is also an Assistant Professor at John H. Daniels School of Architecture Landscape and Design, where she leads the Designing Ecological Tourism Lab. Her work has received numerous awards including: Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture Collaborative Award 2012; New York Architectural League Young Architects Award; Urbaninform award; and Progressive Architecture Award 2007.