Split- Casablanca. Study trip

split casablanca

MOTEL TROGIR PROJECT

Study trip to Casablanca/ Studijsko putovanje u Casablancu

November 27th- December 3rd 2015

1979. godine u Splitu i okolici od 15. do 30. rujna održane su VIII. Mediteranske igre. Na njima je sudjelovalo 14 država koje su se natjecale u 26 sportova,  najvećem broju sportova do tada, a MIS-ova  maskota je bila sredozemna medvjedica Adrijana. Probijen je tunel kroz Marjan. Povijesna jezgra Splita s Dioklecijanovom palačom upisana je na UNESCO-vu listu svjetske kulturne baštine. Izgrađen je stadion na Poljudu (arhitekt B. Magaš) i sportski i prodajni centar Koteks/Gripe (arhitekt Slaven Rožić i Živorad Janković). Na završnoj ceremoniji zatvaranja Mediteranskih igara u Splitu, na displayu tek otvorenog poljudskog stadiona, digitalni natpis SPLIT- CASABLANCA najavio je sljedeće, IX. Mediteranske igre koje su se u ovom marokanskom gradu održale 1983. i tako označio vezu ova dva grada na obalama Jadranskog mora, odnosno Atlantskog oceana.

Mediteranske igre u Splitu označile su velike zahvate u urbanom prostoru (segment programa MOTEL TROGIR projekta u 2016. bavi se upravo jednim takvim ostvarenjem, kompleksom Koteks/Gripe) te smo se slijedom poljudskog natpisa počeli baviti istraživanjem Casablance, te mogućom poveznicom ova dva grada, posebno s naglaskom na moderni izgrađeni okoliš, u širem mediteranskom kontekstu. Casablanca je bila svojevrsni “laboratorij” modernog prostornog planiranja u prvoj polovici 20. stoljeća (posebno za vrijeme francuskog protektorata 1912.- 1956.) i teren za testiranje ideja arhitekata koje su u to vrijeme bile preradikalne za Europu, a njezin razvoj u širem kontekstu sjeverne Afrike, bio je polazište projekta “In the Desert of Modernity. Colonial Planning and After” kustosa Toma Avermaetea, Serhata Karakayalija i Marion von Osten (HKW, Berlin, 2008.) koji je nastojao dublje istražiti vezu između modernog pokreta u arhitekturi, Sjeverne Afrike i kolonijalizma. Projekt je polazio od teze da se poslijeratni razvoj modernog pokreta (u zapadnoj Europi) ne može u potpunosti obuhvatiti bez uzimanja u obzir eksperimenata i iskustava arhitekata i urbanih planera u sjevernoj Africi.

Započevši ekstenzivnu razmjenu s organizacijom za zaštitu arhitektonskog naslijeđa 20. stoljeća u Maroku- Casamemoire, te Ecole d’Architecture Casablanca, iz obostranog zanimanja, započeli smo suradnju čiji je prvi segment bio petodnevni put u Casablancu dvaju članova MOTEL TROGIR tima. Istraživanje konteksta prethodilo je samom putu, pri čemu su konzultirani različiti autori, istraživači, i tekstovi. Neke od dijelova (odlomke) donosimo u kratkim opisima ispod, uz imena autora kojima ovom prilikom još jednom zahvaljujemo.

Studijsko putovanje u okviru projekta MOTEL TROGIR podržala je Zaklada Kultura nova.

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Casablanca is the port city located on the Atlantic Coast, in Morocco, North Western Africa, counting today around 3,5 million inhabitants (4,2 million- metropolitan area). Having around 20’000 inhabitants in the beginning of the 20th century, Casablanca experienced an exponential growth with the official beginning of the French protectorate in 1912. When one thinks about the origins of Modernism, Casablanca may not come to mind immediately. However, many concepts in modernist urban planning and architecture have been tested there.

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‘In the development of Casablanca, colonial interests played a key role. Some argue that the rise of Casablanca as the great island of modernity was loaded with ambiguity. The Europeans were the colonists, the ones who set the pace in policy and the growth of the city, and the ones introducing modernist urbanism and architecture. Casablanca in its origins did not hold an actual bourgeoisie, in contrast to some other Moroccan cities; it was in the beginning of the century a city without citadins (city dwellers). The French protectorate (1912.-1956.) initiated a fundamental change; just next to the Moroccan old medina they created a city based on their ideals and visions and greatly influenced the further development of the city.’ (A. Kurzbein)

Casablanca_ first skyscraper

According to A. Kurzbein, in the urban history of modern Casablanca, planning policy was the result of conflicts between the power structures and the peripheral urban society. Within certain periods of instability, socio-spatial planning was determined by the decisions taken in emergency. The first urban plan of Casablanca was developed in the middle of the Moroccan resistance against the French protectorate and the turbulences of World War I.

With increasing immigration since the early French protectorate, the city of Casablanca expanded beyond the edges of the medina (old town). The French authorities imposed a strict spatial separation between European, Jewish, and Moroccan quarters. The experimental housing projects for Muslim and Jewish Moroccans aimed at preventing the indigenous population from moving into the exclusively European neighbourhoods. The resultant non-relating patchwork of neighbourhoods, separated by boulevards still shapes the city physically.

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In one of the most important books on the topic, “Casablanca, Mythes et figures d’une aventure urbaine (1998)”, Cohen and Eleb describe how urban planners – the new experts of the 20th century – aimed to channel this development according to modern conceptions of the city and to colonial imperatives. They introduced avant-garde architecture to the city expansion of Casablanca, even before implementing similar structures in Europe. (A. Kurzbein)

SOCIAL HOUSING OF CASABLANCA: ambivalences and transformations (excerpts)

le nid d abeille historical

The second urban plan of Casablanca (1952) was also created during political instability, when the violent nationalist movement clashed with the colonial power. The immediate reaction of the rulers was an immense social housing, with no change in zoning regulations. The leading urban planner and architect was the Frenchman Michel Ecochard and his aim was to integrate the slum dwellers into the city. Mass housing for the indigenous population became an emergency issue and a political matter in dispute.

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A part of the task was assigned to architects related to the “Team 10” which emerged from the CIAM (Congrès Internationaux d’Architecture Moderne). Team 10 criticised the functional separation between housing, work, leisure and transport in urban planning (Charter of Athens), propagating instead the interconnectedness of housing, street, district and city. The context for this discussion was a presentation by the architects George Candilis and Shadrach Woods at the 9th CIAM congress. There they introduced a grid in which they showed NOT new architectural or urban planning designs but a „bidonville“ or shantytown that Moroccan internal migrants had erected on the outskirts of Casablanca. This shantytown was presented as a teaching model for the architects and town planners of the next generation (…) since modernism appeared here to have adapted to local climatic and ‘cultural’ conditions and abandoned its universalist path.

sidi othmane archive

The force of dwelling practices, discovered in the improvised urban environment of the bidonville (slum), gave rise to new concepts for the dwelling such as HABITAT. The notion of habitat – which deliberately differed from modernist notions such as ‘Machine for Living’ – indicated that new dwellings were adjusted to accommodate culturally defined dwelling practices. Distinctions were made between the ‘population of European origin requiring a European-style habitat’ and the ‘Arab population’ that was accustomed to ‘a habitat of special layout and construction’. The ‘modes of habitat’ of the migrants from rural areas were articulated into the ensuing urban plans of the housing estates and the ground plans of the dwellings.

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However, the intention of architects and urban planners that wanted to revise modern architectural and planning approaches by integrating knowledge on dwelling practices and habits into urban planning and architecture, was ambivalent, because ethnographic knowledge is ultimately based on specific production conditions – on conditions that might even lead to a fundamental epistemological ‘misrecognition’, i.e. the subjugation of the colonised on the basis of ethnographic knowledge. What is epistemologically misrecognised is rather the status of living conditions and the way the colonised live: instead of taking anthropological knowledge about the lifestyles of the colonised at face value, anthropology – including the anthropology of the ‘other’ modern – must itself be interpreted as an arena of colonial struggles.

What happened throughout several decades in the modernist neighborhoods of Casablanca (Sidi Othmane, Hay Mohammed) is the process of the inhabitants making use of the material at hand and transforming the original buildings design in an ‘actual’ evolutionary process into the diverse and unique neighbourhood we can observe today.

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Is it possible to see this adaptation of the building as a critique of it? In that case, what can be learned about its inhabitants’ perceptions and their ideas of “vernacular modernity”? For some observers these modest adaptations can be considered forms of insurgent citizenship. For the inhabitants addressed- they are pragmatic ways of dealing with a lack of space and financial resources needed to relocate to larger dwellings.

/This study trip research was greatly influenced by the featured texts by Andrea Kurzbein, Serhat Karakayali/ Marion von Osten, polis blog team, conversations with Elodie Durieux, Lahbid El Moumni, Imad Dahmani, & many others/

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shanty town El Hank across the Mosque Hassan II

el hank shanty town

shanty town El Hank

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shanty town El Hank

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shanty town El Hank

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El Hank planned social housing

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El Hank

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El Hank

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EL Hank- in conversation with the resident

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Casablanca down town

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Casablanca, Villa Paquet,  1952.

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Le Nid d’Abeille social housing, atbat-afrique (G Candilis, S Woods), 1952 Hay Mohammadi

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Semiramis, social housing, Hay Mohammadi

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Casablanca down town, a characteristic lobby

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Motel Trogir team on the meeting at Casamemoire

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Building at the Sidi Othmane neighborhood, architects Jean Hentsch & Andre Studer 1955, maquette

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Sidi Othmane, December 2015

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In conversation with the Sidi Othmane residents

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Sidi Othmane

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towards the Ecole d’Architecture Casablanca with Lahbib El Moumni

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L’Ecole d’Architecture, Casablanca, back view

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In converastion with Lahbib El Moumni & Imad Dahmani

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Market place at Rue Agadir, architect Jean-Francois Zevaco, 1972

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Place des Nations-Unis, “Globe Terrestre”, Jean- Francosi Zevaco, 1975

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building Assayag, architect Marius Boyer, 1934.

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immeuble Gallinari (Atlanta), Gaston Jaubert, 1953.

#all photos by Motel Trogir. archive photos by Casamemoire

This study trip in the framework of the MOTEL TROGIR project was supported by the Kultura Nova Foundation/Zaklada Kultura nova.

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One response to “Split- Casablanca. Study trip

  1. Pingback: BRUTALIST ARCHITECTURE IN MOROCCO_ Lecture | slobodne veze //loose associations·

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