A regional identity through a railway line : North
Tunis suburb and the TGM

Abstract : The TGM (Tunis-Goulette-Marsa) is a railway line which connects Tunis with
Marsa while passing by Goulette. The first electrified suburban line of the
African continent, bears officially the name of TGM since 1905, date of the
inauguration of the first direct layout through the Tunis Lake. In fact well the
TGM was at the origin of the Tunis extension of towards north creating in sea
front, the most attractive suburbs of the capital. We propose to put the projector
on this railway line characteristics and the architectural specificities of its
stations, in an historical and contemporary aiming, in order to direct the Tunisian
urban developers towards the interests of the railway heritage and to feed the
current reflexion on Tunisian urban space and the rail-bound transports.
Indeed, to follow the evolution of the suburban railroad statutes contributes to an
awareness of the city as a significant space. The reading of urban space is not
limited to architectural forms, it is also organized by its means of transports.
Instead of getting lost in a total, general and reducing definition of the northern
Tunis suburbs identity, we will target the place of the railway identity of an area
in its total identity.
More precisely, we think that the Railway stations are urban entities which knew
how to generate their own temporal culture, and where it is urgent to study the
“lifespan” of its identity impact. Line TGM is punctuated by stations which
preserved the original néo-Moorish style with a repair in 1979, but today, a
harmony loss with surrounding urban fabric is clearly perceptible. These stations
are directly active in the production of the suburbs regional identity but are
locked up and are not any more transformed to constitute a different universe
being used as developing reference. The TGM myth does not exist any more but
only in books. With the accelerated urbanization and use of cars, those which
take it are stripped and do not have any idea of its history. This micro-regional
identity can, through a particular form of development, overcome the challenges
of urban developments which tend to asphyxiate it and destroy it.
On a methodological level, it is a question to write an identifying monograph of
a space, on the one hand, by exploring its endogenous memory, and on the other
hand, by focusing on contemporary uses and practical. We will carry a new
glance on urban, architectural, technical, economic and social potentialities of
TGM line and stations. We will emphasize the permanence of historical indices
which are continuously secreted.
The results will consolidate the assumption that the railway line identity and
architectural potential must be better taken into Tunisian urban space reflexions.
The relations which we establish between railway identity, architectural identity
and social identity, is a transverse reading which makes possible a better control
of increasing contradictions between the areas modernization and their urban
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Contributor : Mohsen Ben Hadj Salem <>
Submitted on : Wednesday, January 14, 2009 - 2:54:58 PM
Last modification on : Thursday, April 4, 2019 - 3:52:02 PM
Long-term archiving on : Tuesday, June 8, 2010 - 6:00:02 PM


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  • HAL Id : halshs-00353019, version 1



Mohsen Ben Hadj Salem. A regional identity through a railway line : North
Tunis suburb and the TGM. Regional architecture and identity in the age of globalization, The Second International Conference of the Center for the study of architecture in the Arab Region, Nov 2007, Tunisia. pp.203-216. ⟨halshs-00353019⟩



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