Casablanca: Sketches from an Urban Adventure

Overview

Casablanca is a city of international renown, not least because of its urban structures and features. Celebrated by colonial writers, filmed by Hollywood, magnet for Europeans and Moroccans, Casablanca is above all an exceptional collection of urban spaces, houses, and gardens. While it is true that Casablanca developed as a port city well before the introduction of the French in 1907, it unquestionably ranks among the most significant urban creations of the twentieth century, attracting remarkable teams of ...

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Overview

Casablanca is a city of international renown, not least because of its urban structures and features. Celebrated by colonial writers, filmed by Hollywood, magnet for Europeans and Moroccans, Casablanca is above all an exceptional collection of urban spaces, houses, and gardens. While it is true that Casablanca developed as a port city well before the introduction of the French in 1907, it unquestionably ranks among the most significant urban creations of the twentieth century, attracting remarkable teams of architects and planners. Their commissions came from clients who were interested in innovation and modernization, thereby fostering the emergence of Casablanca as a laboratory for legislative, technological, and visual experimentation.

Having studied the city for ten years, Jean-Louis Cohen and Monique Eleb trace, from the late nineteenth century to the early 1960s, the rebirth of a once-forgotten port and its metamorphosis into a teeming metropolis that is an amalgam of Mediterranean culture from Tunisia, Algeria, Spain, and Italy. The extensive presentation of the significant buildings of this hybrid city — where, alongside the French, Muslim and Jewish Moroccan patrons commissioned provocative buildings — is drawn from French and Moroccan archives, including hundreds of previously unpublished photographs. Cohen and Eleb focus as much on Casablanca's diverse social fabric as its urban spaces, chronicling the clients, inhabitants, and inventive architects who comprise the human component of an essential yet overlooked episode of modernism.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Catapulted to fame by Bogart and Bergman in the classic film, the modern Casablanca nevertheless suffers a reputation as a third-rate destination for tourists and scholars. Cohen (architecture, NYU) and sociologist Eleb (Univ. of Geneva) strive to convince us otherwise in this chronicle of Casablancan architecture and city planning from 1900 to the 1960s. The authors contend that Casablanca's civic leaders and architects of that period engaged in a uniquely progressive effort to meld native and European cultures through pragmatic but visionary urban planning. They document persistent colonialist repression but find it balanced with enlightened concern for "salubrious" living conditions for all classes, often resulting in internationally acclaimed housing projects and other civic works. Impressively researched, the text contains excerpts from primary documents and interviews, supplemented by hundreds of photos and plans. An epilog sums up major themes, all of which could have been more coherently developed throughout a text overburdened by its wealth of data. A feast for serious students of North Africa, urban planning, and trends in 20th-century architecture, this exhaustive study is recommended for comprehensive collections.-David Solt sz, Cuyahoga Cty. P.L., Parma, OH Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781580930871
  • Publisher: The Monacelli Press
  • Publication date: 12/3/2001
  • Pages: 480
  • Product dimensions: 9.45 (w) x 10.80 (h) x 1.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Jean-Louis Cohen is an architect and historian. He is a professor at the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University and the director of the Institute Français d'Architecture. He specializes in the twentieth-century architecture and urbanism of Europe and the United States. Among his books are Scenes of the World to Come: European Architecture and the American Challenge 1893-1960, Le Corbusier and the Mystique of the USSR: Theories and Projects for Moscow, 1928-1936, and Mies van der Rohe.

Monique Eleb is a psychologist and sociologist. She is a professor at the Ecole d'Architecture Paris-Malaquais and directs the Architecture, Culture, Society research center and a doctoral program on architecture and urbanism. She specializes in domestic architecture, and among her books are Architectures de la vie privée, L'invention de l'habitation moderne, and Urbanité, sociabilité, intimité.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 11
A Bad Start for a City of Adventure: From Anfa to Casablanca 21
Henri Prost's Plan (1914-1917): A Flexible Approach 51
The Rule and The Monument - Planning Casablanca after 1920 89
Living in the Ville Nouvelle in the 1920s 135
1930-1940: From Art Deco to Modernism in Residential Construction 169
Building the New Medina and Housing the Workers 215
Building Modern Leisure Facilities 251
The Post-1945 Golden Age and Its Dark Side 275
Michel Ecochard's Controversial Urbanism (1950-1952) 301
"Culture-Specific" Housing for Muslims: The Age of Large-Scale Projects 325
Housing the Europeans 365
Villas, Beachside Resorts, and Movie Theaters: Hedonism at Work 393
Epilogue 441
Research Methodology 446
Manuscript Sources 448
Bibliography 449
Filmography 461
Biographies of Architects Active in Casablanca 462
Abbreviations and Institutional Acronyms 473
Glossary of Moroccan Terms 473
Index 474
Illustration Credits 480
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