THE PAVILIONS PHUKET EPL Prediction Competition 2018-2019 Kata Rocks
Login | Create Account Poll Currency Weather Facebook Youtube Search

Rooftop shanties top once iconic Casablanca buildings

MOROCCO: Shanties have mushroomed on the rooftops of historic apartment buildings in Casablanca, as the Moroccan city’s once-prestigious centre crumbles below.

constructionculturepolitics
By AFP

Sunday 9 July 2017, 03:00PM


Clotheslines, satellite dishes and tangled cables have sprouted on the deteriorating facades of Casablanca’s buildings, constructed nearly a century ago under French rule. Photo: AFP

Clotheslines, satellite dishes and tangled cables have sprouted on the deteriorating facades of Casablanca’s buildings, constructed nearly a century ago under French rule. Photo: AFP

Clotheslines, satellite dishes and tangled cables have sprouted on the deteriorating facades of the buildings, constructed nearly a century ago under French rule.

What was once a feted blend of Moroccan and European architecture is falling apart under the weight of an expanding urban population and neglect.

The city “was once at the forefront of world architecture”, architect Rachid Andaloussi says.

But today its early 20th-century residential buildings have been “abandoned by landlords tired of seeing them deteriorate”, says Andaloussi, the head of Casamemoire, an association to protect the city’s architectural heritage.

And a housing crisis in the traffic-clogged economic hub has led Moroccans with nowhere else to live to cobble together makeshift homes on rooftop terraces.

“They’ve squatted in public infrastructure, factories – and now they’ve moved on to the terraces,” Andaloussi says.

Building themselves shelter from corrugated iron, bits of wood and plastic bags, they have come to occupy what were once emblematic architectural spaces.

Casablanca, known by the Spanish translation of its Arabic name Dar al-Bayda (“White House”), greatly expanded under the French protectorate from 1912.

French architect and urban planner Henri Prost presented his first plan for the Moroccan city in 1915.

In the 1920s and 1930s, Prost and mostly fellow French architects built the city that has become the country’s economic heart.

They created the city’s unique style by blending traditional Moroccan elements like mosaics, stucco and sculpted cedar wood with the European trends of Art Deco and Art Nouveau.

Their work includes the Lincoln Hotel, an Arabesque Art Deco building that was built in 1916 and used by American spies during World War II. But it closed in 1989 and today stands largely in ruins.

The Liberty Building, also called “The 17th Floor”, was North Africa's first skyscraper when it was built between 1949 and 1951.

Central Phuket

And the Wilaya, a former town hall, is an example of the mixed architecture typical of many administrative buildings under the French protectorate.

Architect Driss Kettani says the Casablanca city centre was once a “feat of architecture and urban planning”, “with its wealth of neo-Moorish, Art Deco and Modernist architecture”.

“What was a few decades ago the indisputable heart of the city has today suffered from a lack of maintenance,” Kettani says.

Tenants in these buildings often pay “ridiculously low” fixed rents, and landlords can only remove them if they pay a huge relocation fee.

Neither the tenants nor the owners pay for the upkeep of the buildings.

The city’s old core is also threatened by real estate speculation, as developers look to buy historic properties to tear them down and build modern apartment blocs instead.

Urban planner Mostafa Kheireddine explains that Casablanca’s housing crisis stems from a booming population from successive migration flows to the city in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.

“Over the years, it experienced pressure on the urban planning sector that was unprecedented in the history of Morocco’s cities,” he says.

As all of Morocco’s social tensions came to the fore in 1980s Casablanca, “quality urban housing was not given priority,” Kheireddine says.

But times are changing, raising hopes of an urban revival.

The authorities have started upgrading the city centre after what Kettani calls “a realisation of the extraordinary potential of this part of the city”.

The opening of a tram line has given the area’s buildings added value.

And wealthier Moroccans are increasingly buying apartments in the Art Deco buildings, as they become fashionable and the area gentrifies.

 

 

Comment on this story

* Please login to comment. If you do not have an account please register below by simply entering a username, password and email address. You can still leave your comment below at the same time.

Comments Here:
Comments Left:
# Characters
Username:
Password:
E-mail:
Security:

Be the first to comment.

Have a news tip-off? Click here

 

Phuket community
Phuket boat mechanic dies after getting neck caught in engine

R2,he gave his opinion already.Why should he waste his time with further speculations ? ...(Read More)


Campaign launched after dozens of dead, injured turtles wash ashore Phuket beaches

Thailand never agreed to sign fishing international convention that all trawlers must have a 'tu...(Read More)


Phuket boat mechanic dies after getting neck caught in engine

"No need to investigate further. As usual, Ben and Kurt already have the facts," as usual ...(Read More)


Medical marijuana trials to start soon

These tests are a senseless waste of time since it's all been extensively done by western countr...(Read More)


Two dead as motorbike slams power pole on Phuket’s bypass road

"...It was not reported whether the couple were wearing helmets at the time of the accident...&...(Read More)


Civil action to be taken against shot Phuket driver’s family

Martin... look at the photo, I also CLEARLY stated, has anyone seen the video, as PN have NOT provid...(Read More)


All nine in Phuket suspect shot dead incident charged with attempted murder

Guys, please, so far we only have the "rightous" RTP word that there were guns, and he rai...(Read More)


Civil action to be taken against shot Phuket driver’s family

Maybe as miraculously as "saw"became"so",the video he saw miraculously changed t...(Read More)


All nine in Phuket suspect shot dead incident charged with attempted murder

If you pull a gun on cops, you should be shot, maybe not fatally, but shot. Having several guns in t...(Read More)


Phuket boat mechanic dies after getting neck caught in engine

The Story stinks, I never saw any of this Tour boats actually sailing.They run the engines full tim...(Read More)


 

Melbourne Cup 2018