A Look Into Past of Casablanca Morocco
Casablanca is on the atlantic ocean’s west-center portion and it is very famous and big city of Morocco. It has rich history of culture. Let’s start with the basics.
The first name of Casablanca was Anfa, in Berber dialect in 7th c. BC. Later when Portugal conquered Anfa in the fifteenth c. AD, they reconstructed it, shifting its title to Casa Branca. It comes from the Portuguese word mix signifying “White House.” Its current Spanish name came when the Portuguese empire was incorporated into the Spanish empire. Amid the French colonial period in the country, the term became Casablanca. In the eighteenth century, a quake devastated the more significant part of the place. It was reconstructed by the Sultan who changed the name into the neighborhood Arabic which is A-ddar Al Baidaa, albeit Arabic likewise has its own particular form of the city. Casablanca is still called Casa by numerous local and foreign people. While other communities with other vernacular, it is known as A-ddar Al-Bida.
An acclaimed lane in Casablanca, the Anfa Boulevard is, for the most part, deemed as Casablanca’s “old original city”; legitimately a region with 0.5 million residents.
Early History of Casablanca
Casablanca was established and set up by Berbers in the seventh c. BC. It was utilized as a harbor by the Phoenicians and eventually, the Romans. In his book Wasf Afriquia, Al-Hassan al-Wazzan called the early Casablanca as “Anfa,” a vast city established in the Berber kingdom of Barghawata in 744 AD. Al-Wazzan trusted Anfa was the wealthiest town on the coast of Atlantic in view of its rich land.”
By this period, Barghawata became an autonomous state and proceeded until it was dominated in 1068 by the Almoravids. Taking after the loss of the Barghawata in the twelfth century, Arab people of Hilal and Sulaym ancestry resided in the district, blending with the neighboring Berbers, which prompted to a worldwide Arabicizing. Amid the fourteenth c., under the Merinids, Anfa has risen as a significant harbor. The remainder of the Merinids was expelled via popular revolt in 1465.
Portuguese invasion & Spain’s influence
Beginning of the fifteenth century, the township turned into an autonomous state again, and developed as an open port for pirates, prompting to it being a target of Portuguese, who attacked the city which prompted to its devastation in 1468. The Portuguese utilized the remains of Anfa to set up a military fort in 1515. The community that lived up around it was identified as Casa Branca, signifying “white house” in Portuguese.
Somewhere around 1580 & 1640, the Crown of Portugal was incorporated to the Crown of Spain, so Casablanca and every single other zone taken by Portugal were under Spain’s control, however keeping up a self-ruling Portuguese government. As Portugal softened ties with Spain up 1640, Casablanca went under completely Portugal’s dominion once more. The Europeans, in the long run, left the region totally in 1755 after a seismic tremor that pulverized the majority of the town.
The community was at long last rebuilt by Sultan Mohammed ben Abdallah, the grandson of Moulay Ismail and a supporter of George Washington, with the assistance of Spaniards from the adjacent emporium. The place was called الدار البيضاء ad Dār al-Bayḍāʼ, the Arabic interpretation of the Spanish Casa Blanca.
In the nineteenth century, the zone’s populace started to increase as it turned into a noteworthy provider of fleece to the thriving business of textiles in Britain and the transportation movement expanded. By the 1860s, there were about five thousand occupants, and the populace increased to around ten thousand by the 1880s. The city continued as a meager sized harbor, with a populace stretching about twelve thousand in a couple of times of France’s rule and coming of French colonialists in the city, at first government in a sovereign sultanate, in 1906. In 1921, this rose to a hundred ten thousand, generally through the improvement of small crudely built houses.
In 1907, France endeavored to construct a light railroad close to the harbor, going through a memorial park. The local people protested resulting in riots which caused some soldiers to be injured and one general to be executed. Accordingly, the French responded by ship, attacking Casablanca from the shore, which brought about serious harm to the area leaving fifteen thousand killed and injured.
The popular classic movie “Casablanca” featuring Humphrey Bogart emphasized Casablanca’s impressive standing at the time, portraying the city as the setting of a battle for control among contending European forces. The movie has a multinational line of actors.
Europeans made up a large portion of the populace. During the 1950s, the city was the main center of the anti-French revolt. A rebel act on Christmas of 1953 brought death to sixteen people.
World War II
The American-British attack of French N. Africa amid the N. African campaign of World War 2 called Operation Torch began on the 8th of Nov. 1942. The US assaulted at 3 distinct areas in French N. Africa, included 3 being the landings at Casablanca in light of its significant harbor and the main admin centers. The city was an essential key harbor amid World War 2 and in 1943 facilitated the Casablanca Conference which Roosevelt and Churchill talked about the war development. Casablanca has been the spot of a huge US airbase, a platform space for all US air jets for the European Theater of Operations amid World War 2.
In Oct. 1930, Casablanca facilitated a Grand Prix, organized at the new Anfa Racecourse. In 1958, the competition was conducted at Ain-Diab circuit. On March 2, 1956, the Kingdom of Morocco obtained autonomy from French. In 1983, the city facilitated the Mediterranean Games. Casablanca is presently advancing its tourism sector. The city has turned into the financial and business center of the country, while Rabat is the political capital.
In the early months of 2000, sixty plus females planned protests in the city proposing changes to the legal status of females in Morocco. Around forty thousand females went, requiring a restriction on polygamy and the presentation of law on divorce being religious process only around that time. Even though the counterdemonstration pulling in .5 million who participated, the advancement for change began in 2000 was persuasive on King Mohammed VI, and he ordered another family law, in 2004, taking care of women’s rights activists.
On the 16th of May of 2003, thirty-three regular citizens were murdered and a hundred plus individuals were harmed when the city was battered by numerous rebel acts made by Moroccans who according to others are connected to feared rebel groups. A sequence of violence threatened the city of Casablanca in 2007. These groups have brought fear to the community.
In 2011, when cries for reformation stretched through the Arab region, Moroccans participated. However, concessions by the ruler prompted to acknowledgment. In any case, in December, a huge number of locals protested in different areas of Casablanca, particularly the downtown area close la Fontaine, craving more noteworthy political changes.
Casablanca Climate and Topography
The city is situated in the Chawiya Plain which has in the olden times been the breadbasket of the country. Aside from the Atlantic coast, the forest of Bouskoura is merely Casablanca’s natural attraction. The wood was sown in the twentieth century and comprises for the most part of eucalyptus, palm, and pine trees. It is found halfway to the city’s international air terminal.
Oued Bouskoura is the only waterway in the city, an occasional little brook that til 1912 extended the Atlantic Ocean close to the harbor. The vast majority of our Bouskoura’s bed has been sheltered because of urbanization, and just a portion of the south of El Jadida street is seen. The next stable waterway to the city is Oum Rabia running at 43.50 miles to the southeast.
Weather of Casablanca
The city of Casablanca weather has a hot summer Mediterranean atmosphere. The chill Canary Current off the Atlantic shore controls temperature variety, which brings about an atmosphere strikingly like that of seaside LA, with comparable temperature ranges. Casablanca has a yearly ave. of seventy-two days with huge precipitation, which adds up to 412 millimeters every year. The maximum temperatures documented in Casablanca are 40.5 degrees Celsius and −2.7 degrees Celsius. The most elevated measure of precipitation recorded in a day is 178 millimeters on 30 November 2010.
The Grand Casablanca area is viewed as the engine of the advancement of the Moroccan economy. It pulls in 32 percent of the nation’s generation units & fifty-six percent of industry work. The locale utilizes 30 percent of the country’s power generation. With 93 billion Moroccan dirhams, the district adds to 44 percent of the industrial production of Morocco. Around 33 percent of national manufacturing exports, 27 billion MAD originates from the Grand Casablanca; 30 percent of the Moroccan banking system is centered in Casablanca.
A standout amongst an essential Casablanca export is phosphate. Some sectors incorporate angling, canning, sawmills, furniture making, construction materials, glass, fabrics, hardware, leather, sodas, and cigarette.
The activity at Casablanca & Mohammedia seaports speaks to half of the global business flows of the country. Practically the whole Casablanca waterfront is being constructed, primarily the development of big amusement centers amid the harbor and Hassan II Mosque, the Anfa Resort close to the business, amusement and living center of Megarama, the shopping and amusement center of Morocco Mall, and also a total remodel of the beachfront walkway. The Sindbad park is designed to be completely transformed with games, rides, and amusement services.
Regal Air Maroc has its main workplace at the Casablanca – Anfa Airport. In 2004, it declared that it was transferring its main office from the city to an area in Province of Nouaceur, near Mohammed V Int’l Airport. The consent to construct the main office in Nouaceur was marked in 2009.
The most fabulous Commercial Business District of Casablanca & Maghreb is seen in the North of the city in Sidi Maarouf close to the mosque of Hassan II and the most enormous venture of high rise buildings of Maghreb & Africa Casablanca Marina.
Historical Background of Casablanca Morocco
Casablanca’s existence started being a Berber community sometime past 3,000 years, way earlier than when the Romans claimed the territory soon ahead of the passing of Emperor Augustus. They had effectively built the port of Anfa for some time and would keep on operating around Casablanca until the fifth century.
By the eighth century, the Berber empire of Barghawata had assumed control of Anfa, succeeded by the Amoravids in the eleventh century. The community got to be essential again under another Berber empire, the Merinids, who utilized it as a critical port.
The Portuguese dominated and demolished it in 1468 AD because of its connections to piracy, then created a fortification in the sixteenth century. The community that built around it was known as Casa Branca. However, the Portuguese were under continuous assault from nearby tribes and are thought to have surrendered the town after a seismic tremor in 1755.
The medina was constructed by Casablanca’s new leader, Sultan Sidi Mohammed Ben Abdallah, during 1770. It was believed that the Spanish people had supported the development of the fortifications. In the nineteenth century, Casablanca progressed by means of trading with Europe, until France’s invasion at the beginning of the twentieth century.
Under the French territory, Casablanca expanded into a metropolis of 100,000 in the 1920s. The ambition of French service leader Marshal Lyautey started a monstrous half-century task that re-constructed Casablanca and its offices until they surpassed those of Marseille, the port that had been the motivation.
As romanticized in the well-known movie featuring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, Casablanca was a crucial vital port town in WWII. In 1943, the acclaimed Anfa Conference occurred here, where Churchill and Roosevelt talked about the advance of the war.
In 1956, Morocco obtained its freedom from France. However, Casablanca kept up its royal flair and is acknowledged as one of the nation’s most European urban communities. It has developed into the economic center of Morocco, where most trade is carried out and has as of late tried to build up the tourism business. This has, to a limited extent, prompted enormous redesign labors on the medina.
Interesting Facts about Casablanca
- Despite being set in Casablanca, none of the eponymous 1942 movies was shot in the Kingdom of Morocco.
- Due to the era under France’s regime, Casablanca features many of the most world’s exceptional craftsmanship deco structural design. In the meantime, the Habous area was an endeavor by the French to join Moroccan style with French standards, making for a lovely artificial Madina.
- Built somewhere around 1986 to 1993, Hassan II Mosque is maybe the finest contemporary case of Islamic engineering. It was to a limited extent, considered to give work to a large number of conventional artisans.
Architectural Tour of Casablanca City
The city was a center of present-day engineering amid the twentieth century. During the 1900s it turned into the world’s 2nd city, following New York City’s 1916 zoning law, to take on a thorough master plan for city improvement. Til, the 1950s different versions of the modern & Art Deco designs, were actively adopted by Casablanca’s designers and tenants alike. Back then, the metropolis was promoted as a French America, an adaptation of Chicago, a place of hasty innovation which hurled high rises.
While Casablanca’s advanced contemporary city plan & engineering were absolutely molded by colonialism, the design created amid that time ought to likewise be regarded as a significant aspect of Morocco’s cultural legacy. Part of the targets of Casamémoire, a civil society based on Casablanca, is to cultivate a familiarity with this legacy, and a few individuals at Al Akhawayn Univ. were glad to take an interest in the current year’s Journées du Patrimoine.
Volunteers from Journées du Patrimoine conducts tour guides of Casablanca’s heritage buildings. Shows, exhibitions, film viewing and meetings on architectural arts are additionally held over the city. Said Ennahid, a professor and archeologist who lectures Islamic art history at AUI, was resolved to engage students.
The walking tour began on Place Mohammed V, previously called Place Administrative, which name has changed frequently. This vast open plaza was the presentation of the architecture style supported by Resident Lyautey, a design lately called neo-Moroccan. Lyautey himself supervised the construction of structures positioned around the plaza, and he persuaded the planners he employed to think past the case of Orientalist engineering up to this point used in French North Africa. Moroccan themes, plans, items & artistry were to be re-evaluated inside the application of the design function then developing in Europe. The outcome, on Place Administrative, is a phenomenal show of the best quality design structure. The extravagantly supported community structures are produced using the best building materials and were planned to a lavish extent and with a keen concentration on the elements. At present, entry to these structures is minimal, so the yearly open house presents the main chance to see them, and snap great photographs!
The Hôtel de Ville (City Hall) is currently the Wilaya, the headquarters of the Regional Administration. It was planned by Marius Boyer and was finished in 1927.
The outside border of the Hôtel de Ville is a native gray sandstone. A broad frieze of green zellij denotes the rooftop line. A clock towers over the structure. This has been Casablanca’s 2nd clock tower, after the Tour de l’horloge. Keeping the appropriate time was an essential piece of the colonial agenda.
The Hôtel de Ville has arranged around 3 gardens. Artworks by Majorelle (1859-1926) displayed in its marble stairwells. Royal rooms on the exceptionally grand upper floor incorporate the chairman’s office and Hall of Honor, where civil unions are done.
The nearby Palais de Justice (Court House), constructed in 1922, has a colossal exterior on the plaza, with an incredible focal entrance prompting to two sectioned displays on the core floor.
The next building is the city office of the Bank al-Maghrib, the government bank drafted by Edmond Brion and was finished in 1937.
In the middle of the 1930s, the neo-Moroccan venture had carried on with planners working in the city’s private division. Earth-tones were substituted with brilliant greens and blues in the zellij work. Everything was expensive; halls adorned with beautiful marbles, others in costly wood framing with stunning Art Deco marqueterie.
Bank al-Maghrib indicates the edge amid Casablanca’s civic administrative center and its’ Central Business Area. As non-public division benefactors of splendid engineering, the banks accepted the soul of the official neo-Moroccan style. Vast numbers of their structures were absolute contemporary, with no citation to traditional European or Oriental designs.
Other business structures, offices, retail chains, and movie theaters, embraced the neo-Moroccan themes to Art Deco.
Casablanca’s business district is a living exhibition of Art Deco, modern, Mediterranean, French, and Moroccan. Firm as these structures, many need renovation, or if nothing else of repairs.
Strolling downtown Casablanca takes you to Passage Sumica, included in the city’s celebrated pedestrian galleries. Constructed in the ‘30s Passage Glaoui, Passage Tazi, and others go through city community, connecting the walkways of the bustling business boulevards on every side. They permit road level foot traffic to enter directly through the community, giving extra access to structures above, and expanding the business area and facade. They were modern facilities for the developing city. Aside from stalls, passages have coffeehouses and offer access to inns, films and other anchors of the sort of walking customer flaneur modernity Casablanca got to be well known.
The Asayag Building was the embodiment of present-day urban living. City planner Marius Boyer got rid of the wet internal courtyards that exemplified thick urban blocs. Dilapidated as it seems, the Assayag Building must even now be a fantastic spot to dwell. The penthouses at the highest point of the building start on the 8th floor and ascend in patios two extra levels. Flats were outlined with the new customer in view, a young professional or couple with no kids. They were not intended for families. They had open multilevel plans and extended in size from studios to multi-story penthouses. In that capacity, occupants may have automobiles, the Asayag, and other huge condo buildings in the central neighborhoods had basement parking.
For the ancient city tour, take a sight of Dar al-Makhzen. The adjacent mosque is said to be the oldest working mosque in Casablanca. You can also check out Friday Mosque, called the Old al-Hamra Mosque, and to the neighboring Residence of Lyautey. The Residence is presently the home of the Casablanca division of the Union Marocaine du Travail, one of Morocco’s biggest and most established labor unions.
A volunteer guide may take you to the Ettedgui Synagogue, a private synagogue which even now belongs to the Ettedgui family, also if the family is not residing in Morocco. You can continue the tour to the Spanish Church, which the government of Spain lately turned over control of this congregation to Morocco. The Church structures are being renovated and will serve as a center for the community.
Habous and the Mahkama
The Habous neighborhood was constructed during the 1920s to accommodate the city’s developing common laborers. It was put up alongside the new Royal Palace. Albert Laprade led broad field investigations of Morocco’s urban architecture before he embarked to outline the vicinity in 1917. The actual construction of the area, which proceeded into the 1930s, was done by Laprade’s associates Auguste Cadet and Edmond Brion. Moroccan spatial compositions and themes guided each size of the plan. This new community is an excellent set of conventional structural devices: rear ways, entryways, curves at every turn. It is vivid and exceptionally tasteful. Furthermore, it is extraordinary engineering. Made from sturdy materials at the human scale, everything about urban planning was painstakingly outlined and carried out.
Comparatively with Essaouira (otherwise known as Mogador) in the utilization of sandstone trim on white walls. However, Sidi, Mohamed b. Abdellah forced straight wide boulevards on eighteenth-century Essaouira, Laprade impressed beautiful viewpoints in Habous.
The Habous neighborhood is an exciting display of end of century craftsmanship. The model made no replicas. But, the industrial grounds for innovation won over the artists. Minimalist lodging built-in bulk described most succeeding neighborhoods for laborers, like Habitations Carrières Central. Additionally, the technocratic, top-down down preparation approach, in charge of the outline of each and every corner and crevice in Habous, was inconsistent with the kind of customary building procedures which “naturally” created the corners of Morocco’s genuine urban design.
The Habous district did not achieve its proposed social gathering. Instead of working families getting reasonable lodging, Habous turned into the must-have address of the Moroccan nobles, and of the Fassi high society specifically, who acknowledged access to a Friday mosque and to the adjacent palace. The center point of Muslim Casablanca amid the colonial period, with its cafés and book shops, Habous is still viewed as the embodiment of the modern Muslim urbanity. The souks composed by Laprade are experts in the most beautiful Moroccan arts. Habous is the place Baydawiya brides go looking for all their wedding things.
Habous is additionally renowned for other amazing features of artworks and crafts, the Mahkama, or “tribunal.” The Mahkama is an incredible urban royal residence which took ten years to finish. It’s one of a kind. Based on an incline, it seems to rise over Habous area. It can be accessed through massive door gateways.
In Mahkama, the pasha’s “offices” are considered as an Alhambra. Sunlit courts glimmer with white stucco creation. Similarly, as with the stucco work, the craftsmanship on the cedar wood roofs is detailed correctly. Everything is genuine! The best-skilled workers were employed as well as the highest quality items were utilized. It’s an uncommonly refined restoration of Alhambra design, at life-size scale, with the supreme items.
It’s questionable if Mahkama ever filled its use as the workplaces of the Pasha of Casablanca, or what legislative office it serves today. But good thing, in Journées du Patrimoine, people, in general, may take a glance at this gem.
From Habous the tour for the bildi (common laborers) area of Hay Mohammadi. Included in the biggest companies in this area was the butcher house, Les abattoirs. The city office by the rail yards was constructed by Georges-Ernest Desmarest and Albert Greslin in 1922. It was intended to the best standard of sanitation and for industrialized efficiency. It shut in 2000. In 2008 a union of arts and cultural affiliations, like Casamémoire, acquired the privilege to reconvert this brownfield site.
From 2009 the Abattoirs are a fabric Culturelle or culture factory. The key building comprises of a large lobby. Light passes through rooftop openings and inside partitions are short. The foundation of the columns and the divisions are adorned in sturdy white tile. Given its initial intention, the office is furnished with modern pulleys, power, braces, and pipes. There are additionally substantial outdoor sections and numerous building subsidiaries. The Abattoirs present ideal creation and exhibit areas for visual & theater performers. Until further notice, just a little part of the large office is being utilized.
Aside from the bistro set, another design component seen in the Casablanca film isn’t right. The Casablanca offered to the U.S. film viewers by Warner Bro’s. in the fall of 1942 was shot totally in three distinctive Hollywood studios. Doesn’t have anything to do with the bold developed city. Differentiate the Hollywood adaptation of the city w/ Jean Vidal’s “Salut Casa” of ten years after. The film for “Casablanca” and the sets called for Tangiers. The film was hurriedly edited again to correspond with the US arrivals in North Africa and the Casablanca Conference of January 1943.
However the movie, Casablanca, & that period are currently the stuff of legend, a modern romantic war frayed times. Furthermore, Rick’s cafe delightfully lets its customers experience classic romance. The genuine Rick’s Café is in the best tradition of between-wars languor, lavish yet personal, and altogether soaked in jazz. Kathy Kriger’s restaurant, which began in 2004, is a tasteful addition to Casablanca by night, & may be comfortable in the city of grandma’s time.
Years ago, wandering photographers would take photographs of people walking on the streets. Photographers then gave a paper with their contact information. The individuals who want a copy of the pictures went to the picture taker a couple of days after and paid for the photographs they needed. It’s difficult to envision such politeness between outsiders on the walkways of any big city today.
The photographs taken by these photographers are very much familiar in the photo albums of the people of Casablanca during that period, as was showcased in VH magazine where it dedicated an issue to the Golden Age of Casablanca. Casablanca’s present-day architecture has been highlighted Royal Air Maroc’s in-flight magazine and other glossy prints as well.
Starting in November 1942, Casablanca was flooded with Americans. The Americans adored the city and the feeling was mutual.
The Colonial Architecture of Casablanca
The city’s center adorned with many French influences surrounding the downtown area and its proper, provincial structures as of now appear to have a place with an alternate and far off age. The design of government structures is explicitly referred to as Mauresque, or at times as “Neo-Moorish,” basically a French admiration and “improvement” on conventional Morocco style, with loads of horseshoe curves, and also the strange touch of darj w ktaf, initially an Almohad theme.
Numerous private structures of initial colonial era from 1912 until the mid-1920s were intensely impacted by the flowery Art Nouveau of fin-de-siècle Europe. After the 1925 Exposition des Arts Decoratifs in Paris, a fresher, bold style, termed Art Deco following the Exposition, started to grab hold, enlivened by numerous sources, including traditional Moroccan pattern. A stroll on Casa’s downtown boulevards, appreciating in the Casablanca’s Deco legacy – make sure to look up, as a large portion of the better highlights look better up high and can present fulfillment.
Casablanca: Short History
The report has it that Anfa (the first name of Casablanca) has been in a practically constant cycle of advancement since the early Middle Ages when its revenues were gotten from trade and piracy.
Casablanca was built on an area of a pre-historic city called Anfa. It became part of a significant role in Morocco’s historical timeline at the later part of the seventh century and in the start of eight centuries. A thriving city because of its agricultural environs, Anfa was likewise in the past a fish port.
The founding of Anfa
According to research and archaeological discoveries, this city is stuck in history, with extensions stretching back two hundred thousand years. A human mouth was found in a mine near the tomb of Sidi Abderrahmane in 1955, dating back 200,000 years.
Hashem al-Maaroufi, who passed away in 1987, spoke in the book “Abeer Al-Zuhoor”, which was issued by the local scientific council of the workers of the province of Ain al-Shaq in 2013, about the fact that the areas of the said shrine are considered archaeological areas.
A number of researchers disagree about the founding of Anfa, the name given to the city before it became in the present era called Casablanca, but the most likely is what historian traveler Marmol in his book “Africa”, where he pointed out that “among the cities The Phoenician built by Hanoun according to the Carthage Court, it is in the best position in Africa surrounded by the sea on the one hand, and fertile plains on the other.
According to Maaroufi researcher, Casablanca / Anfa is likely to be founded by the Carthaginian Phoenicians, as most of the cities it constructed were on the seashore, such as Beirut, Tripoli, Levant, Sousse and Bizerte, not to mention that the Phoenicians were displaced from Syria and Lebanon. On the seaside in Lebanon called above.
The first to open the city of Anfa and then introduced its inhabitants into Islam was’ Uqba ibn Nafi al-Fihri, according to Muhammad Bujandar in his book ‘Chellah and its Archeology’. At the hands of her people for the first time, and they became a religion of Islam, but they soon returned and turned to Christianity after his return.
Trade and science
It is no coincidence that Casablanca is an economic capital and a major commercial destination in North Africa. History speaks of the fact that this city has been inhabited from time immemorial to trade, especially with Europeans, and has special regulations in dealing with traders abroad.
According to the same source, citing the book “Description of Africa” by its owner Hassan Al-Wazzan, “the city’s inhabitants were constantly connected with the Portuguese and English merchants, so their lives were organized and scientists.”
Wheat, barley, cowhide, goat, sheep, wax, wool, almonds, etc., among other commodities that were exported from the port of Anfa, according to Piccolotti, correspondent of the banks of Florence. And the largest in the country then.
It was not only trade, but the city had an active scientific movement and found a number of schools and scientists specialized in Islamic sciences, who were known at the time, including Ali bin Ibrahim bin Ali Al-Ansari.
In 1469, Portugal ruled over the city, coming back a hundred years later to assemble strongholds around the province of white-washed houses they called Casa Branca.
Due to its port, the city, little by little, became more linked to other countries. It initially caught the European’s interest, who was driven by trading. For this reason, it affirmed itself as Europe‘s counter for Northern Africa and turned into the number one from Morocco’s export port. The development of steam navigation as well as the progress of the fabric market pushed the port’s traffic, making it among the wool provider forerunners as in the Mediterranean Sea.report
A standard marine connection was formed in 1862, between Casablanca and Marseille. Constructed in 1912, the port of Casablanca, Morocco’s first major modern-day port, paved the way to the city’s bigger economic activity, and has drawn in a lot of workers and investors in the region. It, therefore, shaped the future of the tiny city of Dar al Baida, making it the country’s biggest financial capital and economic center.
The years 1910 to1950 was a booming period for the city as big projects were carried out such as the construction of huge city buildings, the expansion of large avenues, the founding of regular maritime lines. In fact, this was also the period of the automobile industry’s launch in 1920 alongside the Casablanca Euro-automobile Rally.
In November 1942 when the Allied invasion of Northern Africa, especially the time the Americans in Casablanca termed Operation Torch, that moment continues to be a clear memory for the elders of Casablanca, and it became a turning point during the Second World War. After 2 months, the leaders of the Allied powers (Giraud, Churchill, Roosevelt, and de Gaulle) gathered in Casablanca to plan for their after war approach in the popular Anfa Conference in 1943 in January.
Casablanca is a city that resisted. Defiance to the French Protectorate ignited in Casablanca. Fighters from communities sacrificed their lives for the cause. When Sultan Mohamed V was deported (1953-1955) by the French government, Casablanca the Resistant was aggravated. When the Sultan returned, the females left their shelter to welcome their leader.
A solid nationalism sparked in the 1975 Green March, a nonviolent march that involved thirty-five thousand volunteers, an epic from the plea of King Hassan II to free the Sahara against Spanish control. Coming from Operation Torch, the Protectorate, and Germany’s response that followed, the citizens of Casablanca suffered, pushing the people to escape to the hinterland.
The defiance, the rebellion of the citizens of Casablanca in opposition to Sultan Mohamed V’s deportation, the protests and riots of 1965 and 1981 united the community spirit of this population that built a solid connection to the monarchy, the Kingdom, and Casablanca.
The city was the foundation of defiance to the protectorate. The Habous the old medina, Derb Al Kabir, Derb Sultan, were the environs of armed rebel fighters, battling to get back Morocco’s political independence.
Huge avenues in Casablanca remember this period and put up a tribute through their names. Al Fida Boulevard intersects the vicinity of the resistance fighters. de la Résistance boulevard which spans to Zerktouni (leader of the resistance) boulevard frames the whole city.
They left in 1755 when the town was harmed by a similar extraordinary seismic tremor that annihilated Lisbon. Anfa was later re-populated by neighborhood clans who called it by the Arabic name Darel-Beida. The name stayed being used until the mid-nineteenth century when Spanish merchants changed to the now well-known Casablanca.
Toward the start of the twentieth century, Casablanca had a populace of around 20,000. In the year 1927 – expanded by many French immigrants – this number had increased to 120,000 and achieved 682,000 by 1952. At this point, most of Casablanca’s significant Jewish people group had left, yet just about five years after autonomy, the overall populace had passed the million point.
At present, covering an enormous swathe of the seaside plain from Mohammedia to Sidi Abderrahmane, including many rural areas and numerous bidonvilles occupied by the country poor, Casablanca’s current populace surpasses 3.5million.
Presentation of Casablanca’s Architectural History
CASABLANCA, LABORATORY OF MODERN URBAN PLANNING AND HOUSING
The Universal aura of the economic capital of Morocco is based on a film of which it is physically visible. The importance of this film will not have been affected since 1946 all the irony of Groucho Marx to debunk the Warner Bros, producer of the film of Michael Curtiz, and who wanted, interceding to the Marx to name their new film One night in Casablanca, arrogate a definitive property right over the city. The unexpected film resonance of Casablanca redoubles the echo met by the city in the innumerable and edifying sagas that inspire French companies in Morocco since 1912. Provided with everything that the modern industry can provide, this spontaneous phenomenon of the French energy, according to Pierre Mac Orlan, provokes innumerable literary commentaries, while the concrete transformations of the city make it one of the mythical crucibles of architecture and, especially, of twentieth-century urbanism.
It is true that the dazzling emergence of Casablanca at the forefront of the cities of North Africa is enough to awaken the observers and artisans of the imperial expansion of France, the imbalances and the conflicts linked to its growth remaining always present in the naive cynical tables of this Eldorado of the developers. The extent of the social, cultural, and physical transformations that occurred during the short half-century of the Protectorate (1912-1955) was not to date only in a very limited number of overall analyzes. The concrete knowledge of the social stratifications in the city and their relation to the urban form remains incomplete, and the architectural form of Casablanca is, at first, grasped only in its most superficial configurations. Some general remarks can, however, be made.
Casablanca is one of the major urban creations of the 20th century. Certainly, the ancient historical core, originally named Anfa, existed for centuries, Muslim, Jewish (mellah) and European. But it is done, with extensions that he knows after 1912, the only real new agglomeration created in areas of French influence, metropolis included, before the new cities prescribed by the SDAU of the region Paris, 1965. Outstanding teams of technicians and professionals contributed to the outbreak and the economic capital of Morocco, in command of French and Moroccan customers committed to the innovation and modernization of the country and the city, thus making Casablanca one with its development response to the field of experimentation in the regulatory, technological and cultural fields. When Léandre Vaillat noted in 1929, not without a hint of spite, that what is not allowed to the extent and the soil of Paris is to the gigantic and the rock of Casablanca, it indicates well the ambition devolving to the city to propose a new form of metropolis able to remake it to the capital of the Empire.
Far from being a mere French town overseas inscribed in an exclusive metropolis-periphery report, Casablanca is, from the outset, and for reasons that are as much about the specific policy of the Protectorate as about the particularity of the population who live there. It transports an international and Moroccan city at the same time, a mixed city where the different national and regional geniuses are composed. Alongside an effective segregation policy that will take both the refined face of the new medina and the cruel, shantytowns, very early here, a certain social, national, cultural mix will emerge.
At the crossroads of Mediterranean cultures, mixing during the first years of the Protectorate the arrivals of Tunisia, Algeria, Italy and elsewhere, will be added a creeping Americanization – Vaillat also reports the impression of an American city (. ..) felt when arriving at Casablanca, strengthened in a striking way by the allied landing of 1942. After the war, Casablanca will be for ten years the most prosperous city of the French Union, and a new cycle Modernization will see the US influence become with unexpected Scandinavian influences.
Unquestionably brief in its duration, the history of Casablanca is however sharply punctuated at the same time by the cuts peculiar to the policy of the Protectorate and by episodes determined as much by the economy of the city and the rhythm of a tumultuous real estate investment that by the transformation of the ideals and techniques of professionals. It would be somewhat futile to propose in the pages that follow a definitive analysis of the major directions of urban planning and architecture in a city as complex as Casablanca has become, especially since the urban strategies of all and the diffuse network of operations carried out in the field of housing are not formed in a rigorously parallel way. We have therefore chosen to define, on the one hand, the major moments that are identifiable in the urban regulation of the growth of the city and, on the other hand, to identify the cross-over transformations of domestic architecture and the uses of housing. No doubt some actors are present simultaneously terrains. However, the very nature of the archives consulted and the documents analyzed, and the extreme dilation of project scales from studio to the region called for a more precise look at each of these on each of these issues.
CASABLANCA: FROM THE CITY OF ENERGY TO THE FUNCTIONAL CITY
When Michel Ecochard joined in 1946 his post of responsibility for planning in Rabat, he was still, by his own admission, under the influence of the illusion that Morocco was the homeland of town planning, that everything was regulated, organized and that cities and countryside developed in the most perfect harmony ‘. But the discovery of Casablanca, a mushroom town without urban planning, in which the elites have lost the race, will make evident to him the incapacity of the Protectorate, which is able to foresee, control and control the growth of the big cities. Three years will have to pass before the team of Ecochard can finally engage in background work on a city that for almost thirty years has been a model of planning rationality.
The City of Energy
The construction of the myth of the exemplary urban work carried out in Casablanca is part of two reforming companies: the creation in 1912 of a Protectorate to, inter alia, regenerate France and the legislative institution and technique of town planning in commonly accepted discipline, and on which Lyautey will rely on his design to return to France a “lost or dissipated” energy.
Conversely, during the preparation of the reconstruction of the devastated regions, the discussion and the first moments of the application of the law of 1919 on the planning and the extension of the cities, it is in the French action in Morocco and in particular Casablanca that a bunch of irrefutable examples will be gathered. For Victor Cambon, who proposes a program for the post-war period in 1916, Casablanca, which had started so badly, will be a healthy French town, well organized and comfortable. For his part, the engineer of the Roads and Bridges Edmond Joyant, active in the technical services of the Protectorate and author of the main urban planning manual used in the preparation of the plans prescribed by the law of 1919, will make since 1922 of Casablanca the one of the references usable by city planners of the metropolis. In its Treaty of urbanism (1924), Joyant exposes in detail the passage from Casablanca of the state of small Moorish town asleep to that of big modern commercial city, operation regulated by the implementation of a rigorous zoning, still unknown in the metropolis, except in Strasbourg, where Joyant praises the pre-1918 German rule.
But the evocation of Casablanca is far from ceasing with these first episodes. The city will retain its initial aura during the Colonial Exhibition of 1931 and until the end of the Protectorate, the strong institutional position of its initial planner Henri Prost undoubtedly weighing on this public destiny. Casablanca will return to the scene in the 1970s when a certain nostalgia for the pioneers of “urban art” will emerge.
HENRI PROST AND THE PLAN OF 1914
The idealized image of Casablanca is however not an illusion, even if the city is in no way a pure urban creation of the Protectorate. When it was set up, the Lyautey administration inherited an agglomeration whose growth was already strongly underway. It should be remembered that this is an incident related to the development of infrastructure in the capital of Chaouia – the construction of a railway – which will serve as a pretext for the bombing of the city, and the investment of Morocco, which Germany had been disinterested in the agreement signed Algeciras in 1911.
Despite the poor conditions of maritime access, the ease of the terrestrial links will impose the choice of the city as the commercial pole, then industrial, and thus like the place of real estate investment. The process of occupying soil in oil stains from the port, but also housing estates focused at a few points on the periphery, is initially beyond the control of the French administration. In 1913, Paul Tirard, Secretary-General of the Protectorate, future author of the Dahir of April 16, 1914, on the management of cities, invited the Conservator of Promenades of Paris, Jean-Claude-Nicolas Forestier, to go to Morocco to consider the issue of open spaces. Forestier focuses on existing cities but draws quite clearly the orientations of a new neighborhood policy. On his return, he shared his impressions with the Urban and Rural Hygiene Section of the Social Museum, which is at the forefront of action to pass a law on management plans. On the advice of the section, Henri Prost is recommended by Georges Risler Lyautey to work on the whole of Morocco while another member of the section, Donat-Alfred Agache, is ordered by the local defenders of “French interests » The first plan for Casablanca.
Prost had the opportunity to take an interest in the Roman architecture of the Orient during his stay at the Villa Medici, but, above all, had begun an early reflection on urbanism, which was to lead him to win in 1910 the contest for the development plan of the fortified enclosure of Antwerp. In addition, he had begun, with his comrade Léon Jaussely, the preparation of a book on town planning, for which he had been led to compare the planning regulations of German, French and Italian cities. Established in Morocco from 1914, Prost encounters, in the case of Casablanca, a problem very different from those posed by the other cities of the country where he applies the doctrine of the separate development of communities advocated by Lyautey. It is a city already very built and parcel without a general plan, that Prost begins to try to arrange somehow.
Three levels of reflection constitute the work of Prost, effectively engaged in March 1914. It is a question, at first, of regulating and straightening the subdivisions engaged, by the implantation of a new hierarchical and ambitious system of highways; secondly, it is a question of defining rules of land use differentiated by the use of templates and hygienic servitudes. Finally, it involves cutting out large functional areas, according to a practice inaugurated by German planners. In a multipolar city, since its development is committed both by the eastern and southern edge of the medina, by the industrial district of Roches Noires, in the north, and the villa district of Anfa, at the west, a unifying device is set up to vertebrate the growth, associating radial tangents to the medina and two rings of boulevards. The opening of these lanes will, on occasion, involve the cancellation of current subdivision projects, or even the questioning of the initial projects of the military to make the routes of their camps and infrastructures sustainable.
Although some of the shots left are treated with care, the plan of 1914 takes the status of restructuring, based on circulatory models like those of Eugène Hénard, more than that of a true urban foundation. The hierarchy of the channels is transcribed in particular in the definition of their differentiated profile, whereas a consequent frame of places and free spaces are established, based in particular on the bipole constituted by the place of commerce the place of France – for which Prost imagine at first a Canebière of Casablanca, and the administrative place where will take place among others post of Adrien Laforgue, the court-house of Joseph Marrast and the town hall of Marius Boyer, place prolonged by a large park drawn by Albert Laprade. These two homes are connected by an arcaded street which participates in a fairly extensive system of ways to which a principle of architectural orders conferring a treatment unit on the ground floor and facades will be imposed. The establishment of district by-laws, associating various morphological servitudes, will make it possible to act not only on the right of the tracks but also in the depths of the islets.
THE SHADOW OF NEW YORK
Contrary to a generally accepted cliché, the three decades following Prost’s departure are not simply a cycle of peaceful implementation of his plan. It was during this period that the city became, in a fairly controlled manner, a very varied architecture, typical as in its forms, remaining contained within the defined main lines, thereby confirming the initial orientations. Some large-scale projects emerge, such as a voluntarist affirmation of the center of an industrial and port agglomeration whose growth continues in stages. Prost’s initial projects were confronted with the impenetrable obstacle of the Sidi Belyout cemetery, located between the new shopping center and the port. At the end of the 1920s, the relocation of the tombs became the sine qua non for the realization of a project that would mobilize most of the planning energies, while the blocks defined by the plan of 1914 were gradually filled up. The new district projected between the Place de France and the sea then takes the status of a business center, which will give a city, booming port, a face consistent with its ambitions. Prost himself remarks that the panorama of Casablanca, when one arrives at the sea, is rather despairing, it is a horizontal line without any effect and, if five or six large verticals came to erect on the landscape, there is It is hoped that the appearance of Casablanca would be much more satisfactory than at present.
In search of a new image for the city, the reference to New York will not fail to prevail. As early as 1914, the impetuous development of Casablanca made her think like an American-style city, while the president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Paris, Walter Berry, breathed a Yankee atmosphere in the early 1920s. This comparison becomes a cliché under the pen of General d’Amade, for whom before the end of the century, North African France will be the United States and Casablanca New York. For her part, Leander Vaillat almost expects a group of skyscrapers to emerge in the heart of this city of conquerors, with a violent soul.
It is true that, as early as 1920, an entrepreneur had proposed service plans of the city an American-style building, containing only business offices, this unique monument of this kind in Europe still reaching only eight floors. This early theme takes on another dimension when the creation of a denser and more complex center is discussed in the late 1920s, the hypothesis of a relaxation of the regulation of heights around the Place de France is already acquired. It is now the doubling of this one which is decided in 1928, while the municipal commission is seized in 1930 of a more ambitious project of the city, whose high constructions would fill this scattered view which surprises, this lack of order, apparent imbalance, drawing an expressive decoration of the character and the will of this city, an affirmation of its power and its will. While Prost continues to send directives enough then Paris, Antoine Marchisio, Edmond Brion, and Marius Boyer draw, each on their own, architectural transpositions of this new ambition.
During the Second World War, Casablanca is, more than ever, the hub of relations between France and North Africa, at least until the allied landing of 1942, which will ensure prosperity to last until Independence. In this last golden age, the city knows an Americanization much more marked than in metropolis, and which is strongly reflected in the architecture of the house. In charge of the Protectorate in 1944, Alexandre Courtois established in 1945 the first plan proposing an extension of the device imagined by Prost thirty years earlier, on a scale of a city whose population now reaches 500,000 inhabitants. The station is moved south, road access is consolidated, and a highway is proposed around the city to the south and east, while new green spaces are connected by continuous walks. At the edge of the medina transformed and curetted, the center of European affairs, implanted in buildings with recent, would redefine a place of France enlarged and dominated by a skyscraper. Several buildings corresponding to this ambition will be made in the early 1950s by Courtois himself.
THE SAGA ECOCHARD
With the second wind brought by the prosperity and the modernization of the post-war period, Casablanca sees its architecture being transformed. The first architects trained in France, such as Jean-François Zevaco and Elie Azagury, come back, while a new generation of professionals acquired functionalist theses take control of urban planning and several major sectors of construction. Moreover, the policy of the Protectorate is bending somewhat towards a more comprehensive and more concrete consideration of the aspirations of Moroccans through more ambitious and less symbolic public actions.
The urban transformations of the years 1945 to 1955 will be made under the influence of two distinct devices: on the one hand, the planners of the Protectorate, at the head of which Michel Ecochard works from 1946 to 1953, propose a new approach to the urban structure; on the other hand, young functionalist architects of very different origins, among whom ATBAT-Africa is the closest team, radically transforms the approach to the question of housing, but also of hospital architecture. , schools, cinemas, or industrial buildings. The technical culture of public works and the building is also changing under the influence of the processes brought by the U.S. Army Engineering, giving new tools to builders.
Michel Ecochard addresses the development of Moroccan cities with the baggage of his also under the experience of the Levant, but the influence of the principles of urbanism resulting from the experience of CIAM, that other teams strive to implement at the same time, like that of Marcel Roux and André Sive in Saarland. However, it is not until 1949 that he gets the green light to begin the study of the development plan and extension of an agglomeration. For Ecochard, the gigantic, almost monstrous character of Casablanca’s industrial boom, in comparison with that of other Moroccan cities, poses the case of excessive concentration.
The draft plan was drawn up in 1951 concerns an agglomeration perimeter broadening the framework defined by Courtois, in which three different forms of the extension are proposed. To the west of “Greater Casablanca”, the European districts are destined to develop in the form of large vertical units and suburban areas; in the south, new Muslim neighborhoods must cover a substantially equal surface, according to new morphological modalities, while the east is thought within the framework of a regional policy of large industrial and infrastructural equipment, relegating the commercial and real estate first decades to oblivion.
The fundamental contribution of the Ecochard team to reinforce the productive skeleton of the city, the industrial linear city stretching from Casablanca to Fédala, a parallel principle to the Three settlements on the shore, borrows his humans from Le Corbusier, themselves strongly inspired by the problems of Russian Nikolaj Miljutin. This industrial band, divided into “satellite cities”, is studied in its detailed arrangements, from factory subdivisions to drawing railways or feeder roads. Another Corbusian establishment, the farming units remain out of the field, while the city of radio-concentric exchanges, which exists since 1912, sees above all the realization of part of the business center of Sidi Belyout, discussed since 1930, in the form of a large radial road lined with large bars of offices and hotels.
In a general way, the ordering precepts of the Athens Charter are projected on the territory of the extended agglomeration, the traffic being restructured in connection with the highway leading from Anfa to Rabat, parallel to the ocean. It is laterally to the highway that the new Muslim neighborhoods are studied and, in part, built. For the first time since 1912, an attempt is made more to carry out operations-showcases like the Habbous, but to lay the foundations of housing policy for the greatest number.
The first major operation, conducted in 1953-1954 at the Central Quarries, combines the three levels according to which Ecochard intends to structure the Muslim home: a horizontal fabric of houses with courses, on which are located three collective buildings demonstrative of ATBAT-Africa and which is prolonged by the setting up of the sanitary frame (8 MX 8 m), a minimal device allowing regulation of the most economic subdivisions, and supposed to be able to accompany their densification.
Michel Ecochard will give his work on Casablanca a strong public impact, staging his fight against the forces of routine and bureaucracy, both during his stay on the spot, by a film and, after his eviction, by a book.
While France abandons a protectorate now untenable, and against which the Moroccan population of Casablanca is particularly insurgent, the policy of the team Ecochard will continue on the ground, and its main orientations will frame or “cash the development of the city for almost two decades, which will see the “weft” fill and become denser little by little.
In all, both in the built matter of Casablanca and in the disciplinary space of French urbanism, with its oscillations between aspirations to universality and inclinations to contextually and local specificities, the experiments carried out by successive urban planners the Protectorate is a first-class contribution. Against so many great final plans remained a dead letter, they will indeed cease to be reformulated and adapted, as they were, from the outset, forced to ensure a permanent and fragile arbitration between social classes and cultures national.
Casablanca: from the apartment building to the housing unit
As in the field of urbanism, three times may be distinguished during the period from 1912 to 1960. At the time of the constitution of the center of the new city, types of canonical dwellings develop in France, but who know here new perspectives. They are buildings with projections, corner buildings, buildings-1lots similar to their Parisian models, but where also reveal phenomena of cultural hybridization in the distribution and the decor, as well as in the modalities of the opening towards the ‘outside. The interest given to the intermediate spaces between interior and exterior is obvious. From the terrace to the large balcony through the pergola, a whole vocabulary is put in place. The loggias, the patios, the laundries with claustra, the | semi-private courses, describe in a very particular way the relation to the house which then has an internalized exterior, daily practiced, sometimes shared.
The 1930s were marked by the emergence of a domestic architecture where hygiene, salubrity, and comfort are interpreted in a specific way, both in the European city and in the new medina. The white buildings, with smooth facades, show the taste of architects for a clean aesthetic that allows however to maintain a certain monumentality. In the 1950s, theoretical and ideological discourse became more radical, especially those concerning an ideal art de vivre or the relationship between housing and solving social and inter-ethnic problems. The villas showcase their Californian or Scandinavian sources when Casablanca becomes embroiled in luxury and American household appliances, while the popular buildings show the efforts pursued in the field of social housing with the conceptual tools of Ciam or Atbat created by Le Corbusier. This experimental dimension of the city will be found in many operations. To the French or international doctrines to which the architects explicitly or implicitly associate themselves are the particular climatic data and the culture of the inhabitation which will be, at the beginning of the period, particularly well studied by the entourage of Lyautey, as testify it the innumerable books on traditional Moroccan architecture written then.
REFERENCES AND ADAPTATION, 1912-1930
Proud of the construction of each building that appears as modern, proud to see their city become a city of the avant-garde, Casablancais follow the race to the most modern, the most comfortable because the housing crisis is rife, but also because the idea of participating in the creation of a new city is valued by many pioneering inhabitants. All types of buildings will be represented, from tall buildings with porticoes and downtown passageways to small apartment buildings in outlying areas reserved for the middle classes.
The idea of decision-makers supported by architects is to create a particular style, adapted to avoid pastiche and not to reproduce the “mistakes” made in other North African countries, The French administration sets up a particular policy vis-à-vis the natives. They will stay in their hometown while the new neighborhoods will develop independently. We know that Marshal Lyautey wanted to respect and value local traditions.
Architects, sponsors, and inhabitants
The first architects building in Casablanca immediately after the 1914-18 war, import their doctrinal position, their know-how and the styles of the metropolis well those, already transformed, of their place of formation, Algiers, Tunis, or even Italian architecture schools. Some, like Bousquet, Boyer, Balois, Cadet and Brion, Cormier, Gourdain, Hare, the most numerous, are d.p.l. and leave the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris. Others like the Pertuzio brothers were born in Algeria and were trained in Tunis. The Suraqui brothers born in Oran are members of the Professional Society of French Architects. Jabin, Arrivetx, and Cottet were born and trained in Algeria; the last is a laureate of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Algiers. Manasi is Curton, French, no graduate of the Milan Academy while was trained in Berlin. The theories, currents, and doctrines to which they refer, are, with a few slight variations, those which are in progress in Paris. Eclecticism and freedom are claimed and the rationalist position is associated with it. According to the date of arrival of the architects, the effects of the theoretical debates are read on the facades and in the plans of the buildings. They strive, however, to integrate the Moroccan dimensions; they observe local conditions, and imported references are transformed by contact with a different urban civilization. Architects seek to take advantage of the specificities of the country’s production at the same time as they remain attentive to demand. Entrepreneurs of Italian origin (Ferrara, Selva Brothers, Biagio, Battaglia, Pappalardo) or French (Baille, Gouvernet and Lorentz), arrive, via Tunisia or more often Algeria, with an experiment of lifestyles and climate of the Maghreb countries. The know-how of the Moroccan master craftsmen and Italian masons are quickly recognized and exploited. Teams set up, mixing formations and ethnic origins.
The sponsors are, as elsewhere, institutional investors, for example, the big insurance companies, and the State represented here by the Protectorate. But private investors, in a country where land speculation and demand for housing only increase over time, play a predominant role. The rich or enriched Europeans, the big bourgeois Jews of North Africa, will join the Moroccan aristocrats and will make build on the one hand villas they will occupy and on the other hand buildings of reports, often by associated French architects to Italian entrepreneurs like Liscia, Ferrara or Selva. Housing demand is, over the entire period studied, more important than supply. In the early years of the Protectorate, the shortage is great and, from the hotel to the barracks, the solutions found to this question do not satisfy anyone. When the first buildings are built the question of their unsuitability to different population groups is raised. The influx of immigrants will make the issue of single housing crucial. Casablanca, at the beginning of its development, is indeed a city of singles, the hotels are numerous there and the first buildings, in spite of their size often imposing, shelter rather small apartments. Many buildings in the city center will be transformed into hotels. The French newly arrived after the First World War, remain cautious at the beginning and settle first in the small apartments of the city center but order quickly, for those who get rich, comfortable villas in the beautiful neighborhoods which are divided. At the same time, settlers, members of the middle class, or inhabitants of the towns of the interior arrive with their families or bring it in after having made sure of their situation. Some seek to rent large apartments while others settle in a precarious habitat, quickly called slum.
If the French represent the majority of Europeans, the characteristic of the Casablanca of the years 1920-1960 is the mixture of populations of various origins (Spanish, Italian and to a lesser extent Portuguese, Russian, Polish, Swedish, British and American, especially after the Second World War), as well as the influences between populations, the uncomplicated borrowing of different lifestyles. The French themselves, in addition to differences of regional origin, belong to two major groups: those who come from the mother country and totally ignore the lifestyles of North Africa and those who come from Algeria or Tunisia, often Jewish. The architects trained in the French schools, the entrepreneurs, the customers, belonging to this group, are very dynamic and contribute to creating habits of life, tastes for certain types of habitat that they communicate to the metropolis.
Socially defined neighborhoods
At the moment when the French landed in Casablanca, the city was restricted to the medina where the Muslims live and the mellah, the Moroccan Jews.
The new city is in fact forbidden to the majority of Muslims. The medina remains the place of life of the working classes who work there or join businesses in the eastern districts. The favored social groups have like the other groups the same ideal, to live a villa in the residential districts preference for Anfa. The trading bourgeoisie begins to settle in the new city that is developing. She prefers to live in the city of large apartments close to her business, rather than villas in them with remote residential neighborhoods. But some residential neighborhoods are very close to the city center. Rural people newly arrived in the city first practice small trades and live in shantytowns before finding a more decent home. The new medina, built from 1918, and the beginnings of management of cheap housing by employers, will allow some of these newcomers, or displaced residents of the old neighborhoods of the city. city, to stay.
If the low-income Jewish population originally inhabits the mellah, populated mainly by those who come from cities ruined by the very existence of Casablanca (the port having monopolized the activities of other city-ports), the limits go by the following be less sliced for the better-off who will settle in the center but with a preference for the residential area of boulevard d’Anfa and Place de Verdun, near the mellah, places of worship, schools and the cemetery.
If in the imagery, the rich French “big colonists” dominate, the reality is much more complex. The French live in the city center or residential neighborhoods with high-value sites, but a large number of middle-class members live in low-income neighborhoods, modeled on the stereotype of the Basco-Béarnaise hybrid house or, more suburban Parisian pavilion. Leander Vaillat, a prophet of regionalism, pinpoints in this respect the petty-bourgeois taste of the colonists: In the French countryside, these tiles (red, mechanical) would indignant me. Here they symbolize, in a touching manner, the colonist’s attachment to the even mediocre aspects of France as he left it … and implacably transposes on a neutral ground the appearances of the departmental style.
Italians offer their automotive expertise, dominate as entrepreneurs or construction workers, and live in the center of the city. The Spaniards are the largest foreign population after the French, and a district is developing where the less ortunate of them gather, that of Maarif.
From the island-building to the neo-Moorish houses
Adaptation to the particular conditions of a country in transformation and mixing several civilizations is seen through the establishment of specific housing programs. Court buildings on large islets that made a shy appearance in Paris before 1914, either in the context of cheap housing or in rare speculative transactions, seem to be considered models here. We observe the transformation of known types by displacement and adaptation to local conditions. This building with a large courtyard is spread over several streets, still, a nascent model of Paris HBM is revisited here to create homes, often luxurious, on very large plots. The recovery at the turn of the century corner building, a monument of domestic architecture that has the advantage of structuring the city, to organize the places, is added to form a type of building that diffuse and whose external monumentality (domes, turrets, decorated pediments, belvedere) sometimes hides the mediocrity of small apartments organized in a rather traditional way. Large block-buildings often have several marked angles
In modest buildings, rent, or report, the distributive principles of the beginning of the century in France are faithfully resumed but associated with local devices, adaptation to the climate but also to a country where domesticity is numerous and is part of the art of to live even poor settlers. The services are well separated from private parties and reception. Some of these downtown buildings have only two levels above the shops with a roof terrace with balusters, waiting for an elevation.
The question of low-cost housing and employers began to arise and achievements emerge, such as the housing that the Compagnie des Chemins de Fer has built in the station area, east of Casablanca, for its employees, hierarchical habitat that goes from the house-double, sheltering two families, to the apartment building. Worker neighborhoods are developing, far from the center, that of La Foncière is an example.
The first colonial villas, built-in residential neighborhoods. west of the city, are very similar to those of the Côte-d’Azur which are obviously a pregnant model. However, the profusion of terraces, verandas and especially the attention given to the place of each one, to the dissociation of the service and the other parts of the house – the numerous local domesticity lives in the house – also appears to the eighteenth-century mansion house with its wings and courtyards, its well-appointed reception rooms and its differentiation of male and female spaces.
The project of a new city, reserved for Muslims of modest incomes, aimed at decongesting the unsanitary medina, located near the port, and to reduce the “slums”, will be entrusted by Marshal Lyautey to Albert Laprade who, in 1917, passes this responsibility to the architect Auguste Cadet then associated with Edmond Brion. It is a native city or, more exactly, the city built by the French architects for the natives, die, of their scruples, and by adding what our hygiene can add to it.
The knowledge of the traditional Moroccan houses is at the base of the plan of the houses built in this district of the Habbous, which differ from their model only by elements of comfort increasing the salubrity: entrance in chicane to protect the intimacy, rooms around a courtyard, as the customer requires, but also “all in the taste” and ceiling of reinforced cement rather than wood. Albert Laprade took as a model the poor houses of Rabat and Salé. The 257 houses were drawn one by one and the different sizes are mixed to find the variety of the original model. Intended for Moroccans arriving slums, they were quickly invested by wealthier families, often by neighborhood traders who had the means to live and maintain them.
Whether they refer to Art Nouveau, neo-Renaissance or neo-classical style in the 1910s or to Decorative Art in the following decade, architects collaborate with craftsmen, mosaics, ironworkers, furniture makers, decorators, and so on. The overloading of some facades and the purification of some others echo the debates found in the main French magazines of the time. However, knowledge and local taste are known and reorganized. It is at the level of the decoration that the phenomena of hybridization are the most obvious. Thus the meeting of Moroccan decorative art and the movement of Decorative Art will produce original decorations where ornate elements (colored earthenware or balconies made of cedarwood), friezes, or well-defined panels, embellished white and bare facades.
Albert Laprade, telling about the houses of the Habbous that the German sculpted capitals or painted bouquets of flowers on the shutters, gives one of the keys to the understanding of the taste of the moderns for this architecture (the m’allemin) put the little note of art, stung from time to time in this voluntarily modest, archi-simple, supremely “cubist” set, one could say but realized with cubes where one felt the hand of the man, life.
The decoration of the façades of the first large buildings in the center differs, at first glance, from that of the Parisian buildings of the same period than by borrowing from the zellige tradition. They replace the flamed sandstone, used by modern architects in Parisian buildings a few years ago (Jules Lavirotte, Auguste Perret, Andre Arfvidson, Paul Guadet). They satisfy those looking to decorate the facades but also to put on the concrete. The zelliges, frescoed or decorating the pediments, are used by architects who want to take advantage of a local resource and know-how and wish the fruitful encounter between the decor adapted to the concrete and an aesthetic choice. They allow local variations of art nouveau style or decorative art using, as is traditional in Moroccan craftsmanship, geometric play, and letters.
About the hotel of the military command of Casablanca built by Albert Laprade, Georges Rémon gives at the same time the definition of a style and an attitude which characterizes the architecture of the beginning of the development of the city: Laprade, while refraining from reproducing the archaeological details in abundance, has nevertheless preserved, on the whole, the lines that prevail in the countries of the sun, and discreetly transposed the data specific to the Andalusian-Moroccan style. But if the essential rhythm of the building is of local inspiration, the general formula is modern: big nudes without ornaments, large loggias, large longitudinal bays wherein the shadow projected by the projections in the canopy, can read delicate delicacy.
A material, granito, will meet a success that will not be denied at any time. One can speculate, given its appearance after the arrival of Europeans in Casablanca, and because it is a rather particular technique, that Italian entrepreneurs have proposed their know-how and have adapted here the “Terrazzo Veneziano” forming the floor of Venetian palaces for several centuries or the “batuto genovese” (or napoletano). Most of the floors of apartment entrances, ramps, window sills, and the floors of apartments and villas are covered and can thus be washed out.
The goal that most architects arriving in Casablanca have set themselves seems to be to build a modern architecture that takes into account the particular climatic conditions, benefiting from the latest comfort data, demanded by the customers, and using adaptation to the country, decorative styles, and local materials.
BETWEEN DECORATIVE ART AND FUNCTIONALISM 1930-1944
This second period sees other architects enter the Casablanca scene (Desmet, Renaudin, Balois ..) while the references of some are transformed and the Viennese building of the 30s is reinterpreted. It differs from the first two decades by the abandonment of the neo-Moorish style in favor of a clean aesthetic and moderate modernity, where, most often, work on volume takes precedence over the decor. But the most important thing is not there. These buildings, whether they are traditional investment buildings or low-rent buildings, are at the forefront of the modern design, hygiene, and comfort of the times: their basements are equipped with garages reserved for tenants, most have garbage incinerators; equipped bathrooms are installed even in smaller apartments, dryers, and laundries are considered essential and it seems impossible to avoid at least one elevator, often doubled by a service lift. In the new neighborhoods where the lanes are wide, ten-story buildings begin to appear.
As in France at the same time, in bourgeois housing in the city center or in nearby residential areas, two types compete with each other: the villa and the large, very modern apartment, signed by an architect, in a neighborhood valued by its central position or for its calm and its greenery), provided with the last elements of comfort (elevator, bathroom, kitchen and office, oil central heating). The omnipresence of domesticity (while in France at the same time, it tends to disappear) implies a particular distribution structure that resembles that of the luxury home of the beginning of the century: double entry into the dwelling, a second toilet Often located in a courtyard outside the apartment or opening on a service bridge, clear separation of service areas, private and public parties.
Marius Boyer will be the architect who, having understood the part he could draw from the experiments of Henri Sauvage, but also projects not realized in Paris, will work on the adaptation of the type of the building with terraces conditions Casablancaises. First of all, there is a strong demand from sponsors who know that they are going to meet the desire of the inhabitants and uses included in the Moroccan culture. The terrace or rooftop terrace supports both the domestic and the relational life of women. In Casablanca the climate is very humid, it is cool in winter; if the sun is welcome a good part of the year, we know how to defend it in summer. Eating on the terrace, sleeping there sometimes is readily practiced. Then, the plots on which the Casablanca building is set up are much larger than the Parisian plots, the richer and always voluntary sponsors when it comes to showing their modernity.
Small apartment buildings often have them-if all these elements of comfort (garages, incinerators, elevators). On the roof terrace accessible to all, often equipped with a common laundry room, an area is reserved for drying clothes of the various tenants. This does not prevent the presence of a particular laundry room at each apartment, often claustra. The cloisters have an equivalent in the local culture: Moucharabieh which adorns the windows of the traditional houses and allows to ventilate without questioning the intimacy, to see without being seen. The corridors, very present, do not seem to be criticized here.
Until then the single apartments were the result of chance, the remains of the adjustment to the plot, or parts separated from an apartment to be rented. At this period, they become a prestigious program, the Hare bachelor and duplex studios of Marius Boyer, the most stripped modern building, built-in 1933, are seen as the avant-garde of the time.
Housing public service employees and helping the French or European working class to find housing became an emergency in a crisis situation; H.B.M appear. It seems that the standards of surface and comfort are higher than in metropolis and the programs adapted to local standards. Thus the apartment building at low rents built-in 1935 by Marcel Desmet, Boulevard de la Gare, includes ten floors with studios and a large covered terrace on the top floor. The main staircase and a service staircase. It benefits from the same services as the rental properties mentioned above. The living room and dining room form a large room with a loggia opening onto the living room. The equipped kitchen opens on both a small courtyard with a service WC and on the dining room.
Full and empty facades
The facades are stripped, a new aesthetic plays on the horizontal, the drawing of the full and empty, without overload decorative. The “beautiful, quiet nudes” evoked by pre-war critics in Paris dominate there. It is, as a critic remarks, the evolution of an architecture which after being held to the type known as “box of rents” and to the pastries Louis XVI passed by a kind of neo-Arab style … for to come to a style that draws its beauty only from the perfect adaptation to the climate and to the local mæurs. The dominant decorative dimension for the facades of the preceding period gave way to the play of volumes, to rational reflection; the décor is based on interior distribution choices: bow-windows and balconies that enlarge the rooms, terraces that allow daily activities outside, corbelled loggias, structure the building and its facade. The style liner is wreaking havoc and oculi and bridges are not counted anymore. The materials used are usually local: gray vein marl of Oued Yquem, with the red vein of Oued Akreuch for entrances to buildings and luxury housing; mosaics, zelliges, glass paste, terrazzo for floors and walls, wrought iron for doors are used for most types of homes.
THE PERIOD OF THE SPECIFIC HABITAT, 1945-1956
In the 1950s, an even more elaborate reflection on the program, following experiments on the collective housing of Le Corbusier and the Charter of Athens, is based on socio-ethnological research. It is based on the differences observed between the lifestyles of the three populations present, to design the habitat according to habits related to the country of origin, what Ecochard names secular habits. These populations are very roughly defined, according to a differentiation that may seem today at the limit of racism and especially according to heterogeneous criteria: religious for Muslims and Jews, nationals for Europeans perceived, oddly enough, as having a unified culture. Under this differentiation in terms of race lies a differentiation in terms of social class: a Muslim or a Jew Moroccan and rich are considered Europeans with a western way of life, and one makes suitable habitat only for the poor. On the other hand, the different age classes or marital status will be taken into account, as far as the economic situation of the inhabitants the buildings will be conceived for example for Muslims with very small means, for young European households, for singles
Galloping demography “and habitat for the greatest number
The serious housing crisis that began with the development of Casablanca still lasts in 1955 despite the effort undertaken to build large cities, or even the creation of peripheral neighborhoods combining small single-family houses and buildings. The rural exodus of Moroccans and the arrival of Europeans fleeing their country before and after the Second World War makes the situation extremely difficult, especially since, as early as 1937, the urbanization program was halted by the war. After the war and under the direction of Michel Ecochard from 1946, it will be, as elsewhere, to build the habitat for the greatest number, especially to remove shantytowns that recreate as soon as shaved. Casablanca, which has nearly 700,000 inhabitants in 1952, appears to be one of the islands developed in a largely underdeveloped country. Its population increased by 85% between 1921 and 1951, a period that saw many nomads settle in coastal towns.
The editorialist of the special issue of Today’s Architecture on North Africa published in 1955 reveals the anxiety created by this situation, but also shows a real premonition of future judgment when he writes: We are obsessed with the “number”, blinded by notions of quantity and economy, and our concern to endow each with a minimum social dwelling, would sometimes lead us to forget that men have requirements that dominate purely material functions.
SPECULATION AND SEGREGATION
In carrying out the proposed routes, the introduction of a very extensive expropriation procedure will make it possible to carry out the new roads very quickly, both through the administrative acquisition of certain parcels and by means of urban consolidation. Land reclamation technique experienced in Germany for the piercing of the arcade boulevard linking the center to the railway station. Speculation, therefore, is judged by taking into account the collective interest that gives everyone equal opportunity to profit. Prost also has to face the rapacity of certain technicians and administrators of the Protectorate, to whom he opposes a daily and fierce resistance.
But the new element introduced by Prost is, without question, the definition of a set of zones, according to the practice inaugurated in Germany, then diffused to America, and that the Section of urban and rural hygiene of the Social Museum had long discussed. Four main zones are defined: the indigenous city, whose constructions are limited to two floors, the central area of housing and commerce, the industrial zones, reserved for unhealthy, inconvenient or dangerous establishments and the pleasure areas for the villas or private dwellings. The methodological scope of Prost’s work is evidenced by his ultimately unfulfilled wish to establish a specific urban planning manual in Morocco. Looking back at the development of Casablanca, on whose destiny he will continue to consult his 1923 until the beginning of the 19
30s, Henri Prost evoked the limits of land consolidation and the way it was done, because the application of this difficulty was insurmountable when the surfaces required by the road network of the main arteries absorbed almost entirely the private domain compensations elsewhere. The fact remains that the realization of the architectural orders and the good enough.
The average quality of the buildings has given the city exceptional continuity and diversity, notably the quality of the public spaces in the center, branching out into arcades and covered passages and the marking of the streets by public buildings.
Finally, the road plan realized in Casablanca is undoubtedly one of the first to fully take into account not only the infrastructural and industrial problems, which still remain, in metropolis, to the state of fantasy when Leon Jaussely develops his extension plan for Paris in 1919, but also the requirements of an extremely early auto mobilization throughout Morocco. Carved around the size of the cars, the main arteries make it possible to quickly connect the rather distant pleasure districts, the shopping center, and the factories, while the garages take their place among the first great monuments of the city.
When Prost leaves, the main part of the city’s road structure is defined, with very distinctive entities, whether reserved for the luxury residence, such as the villa district of Anfa, whose development begins. by the upper part of the hill, or business, as the center, or conceded to the Muslim population, as the “new medina” of the district of Habbos.
In reaction against the filthy agglomerations, the infamous derbs where the army of workers mobilized by the colonization is concentrated, the hypothesis of new and well-established native districts, allowing the transfer of the workers and destroying the slums, is formulated by Prost of 1914. In the neighborhood of the palace built by the Protector for the Sultan, and of which Forestier will draw the gardens in 1916, dozens of hectares will be ceded by an Israeli landowner, Mr. Bendahan, Habbous or property ligeux. Voluntarily closed to vehicular traffic, the neighborhood includes a market, a mosque, a hammam, fondouks, arranged according to a system of streets and squares lined with arched porticoes, hemmed with pergolas with wooden lattice, as in traditional cities Moroccan. This tasty meditation on the theme of Eastern life pursued by European artists, in the words of Léandre Vaillat, is the result of a patient work of analysis and survey of ancient architectures, undertaken by Albert Laprade, the first architect of the city, which will succeed Auguste Cadet. Later, Cadet, associated with Edmond Brion, will realize in the neighborhood of the Habbous the reserved area, a closed city where, since it is impossible to suppress the debauchery, he will at least be tempted to stem it and (to) prevent it from rot in the shallows.
But these few urban fragments, carefully designed and cleverly presented to the metropolitan public, will, whatever their qualities, be far from sufficient to shelter the working-class population in continuous growth. It will find its place in an unplanned district and called Bidonville because, as Pierre Mac Orlan says, this capital of the mouse is built-in oil drums and corrugated iron.
Economic housing “adapted” to culture
Michel Ecochard’s ideas on the design of a habitat-specific to each culture meet those of modern architects, such as Candilis, Woods, Bodiansky from the Atbat-Afrique study office, or Gaston Jaubert. It is a question of trauver a type of dwelling respecting the traditional habits while allowing the progressive transformation of the way of life.
For Muslims, the goal is to create different types of habitats that allow on the one hand the resettlement of slum dwellers (who then completely surround the city center), on the other hand, to offer them traditional houses on the ground floor. floor with the rooms opening onto a patio, finally to offer high-rise European design with the opening to the outside of traditional design with patio openings bunk. The Atbat-Afrique team (V. Bodiansky, G. Candissis, and S. Woods, architects, H. Piot, engineer) proposes, as part of his reflections on the economic habitat, an experimental city reserved for slum dwellers who follow these principles. One of the two-storeys closed-patio buildings and another facade with protruding walkways … is for the people who have remained most attached to Muslim ethics.
Jean Hentsch and André Studer are building, for the Moroccan land group, eleven four-storeys buildings (studs and tower), with pilings supporting patios where the water block is located. The patios are supposed to preserve to the habitat its cultural dimension: Maintenance for each dwelling of the “patio” in its traditional conception, that is to say in the open sky, closed to the foreign eyes, and remaining the center of the housing, on which give all the pieces23. However these apartments, from one to four rooms, are organized and built in a very modern way since they are through, the rooms are glazed and the “wet rooms” grouped together. The buildings are built of reinforced concrete with bricks, coated with plaster and granito floors. Michel Ecochard had very rightly planned that the superimposed patios will certainly be used as living rooms that we can observe today. This good idea of the reinterpreted patio does not take into account its communication function between neighbors: in its suspended patio, today’s woman is like a bird in a cage, notes André Adam.
The housing of the Israelites living in the old unhealthy medina will be studied by Michel Ecochard. But not all of them should be relocated to cheap housing because a noticeable change has occurred: The rise in the standard of living of a certain number of these inhabitants will make them relocate to neighborhoods close to the Mellah while the inhabitants of these latter districts will seek to emigrate to areas of residence further to the west. It will choose, to relocate the poor Israelites, the district of the lighthouse of El Hank, then desolate district, empuanti by the arrival of the sewers and where the winds carrying spray make life difficult, even if only the services will be installed The Israelites, including the very poor, will refuse to live in large numbers. This “adapted” habitat is modeled on the current H.L.M. stereotype, to which patios have been added. Michel Ecochard justifies it as follows: The habits of the Israelite population in Morocco are getting closer and closer to that of the Europeans. However, some traditions have remained alive. They respond to ancestral customs and rules of life peculiar to the African climate. The building also has an open double-height patio extending the living rooms. The accommodations are on one level with exterior traffic by passageways.
“European-type” housing poses less difficult questions to solve as metropolitan models of economic housing exist and are easily adaptable to climatic conditions. Moreover, the growth of this population is slower, and all the more so as the feeling of insecurity, linked to the Moroccans’ claim for independence, is increasing. The idea applied is, by referring to theories defended by Le Corbusier, to make buildings freely oriented, on a free ground too: We managed to implement simple volumes, oriented, releasing the ground and fixing between facades the distances compatible with a burst of total sunshine, and to provoke by a judicious distribution of the volumes, a phenomenon of microclimate.
The specification by status
If in 1955, the decision-makers announce and write that they try to mix the types of habitat and give as an example the Beaulieu district where one finds strip villas and small buildings from three to five floors, in a park, With the ground a commercial concentration, it is perhaps to try to palliate segregation by quarter quite cynical.
The districts of Casablanca are not only structured by religious belief or country of origin, they are well defined by social class and economic level: Beausé day or Beaulieu for the European middle class, Maârif for the poor Spaniards, Anfa for the Europeans and the possessing Jews, the Polo for affluent Moroccans, the new medina for the modest Muslims, the districts of the center of the city for the tradesmen and the craftsmen, all origins confused, but always excluding the Moslem Moroccan traders who arrive from the districts which are reserved for them to work in their shops in the center.
On the other hand, a division by age and status has also appeared: youth housing, for young households, are added to single housing, as well as housing for civil servants, etc.
Functionality and adaptation to lifestyles
Faced with this punctilious specification, another trend is strong, more related to a reflection internal to the discipline and which, lowering the characteristics of the different cultures of the living, puts forward the universality of the needs of the man, and hence the internationalization of architecture. The same architects will paradoxically defend the two points of view, often dissociating temporalities: they propose an adapted architecture, but which should nevertheless lead gently to the inhabitants to adopt modern lifestyles, notably by the effect of example or ‘influence. The architecture advocated is, in fact, modeled on a model, certainly ideal, but especially from the rational and functionalist stream and not centered on architecture as a fact of culture. There would be basic needs shared by all that could serve as a basis for reflection.
Between archaism and modernity of the human species, they do not choose and sometimes refer to one or the other, just as they call on the one hand to culture, to make a habitat adapted to the uses of the country and on the other hand to modern civilization, to make everyone live in the same type of space: for all needs in light, space, hygiene, rest, education and work.
While in metropolitan France the direct relationship with the client is rare, the order of luxurious villas, functional and adapted to the country, by customers both rich and open to modern architecture, is common in Casablanca in the 50s. The war did not as in the impoverished metropolis the country but revived the economy, or at least enriched some social groups, those who can then access the luxury housing. The privileged areas are in the west: Anfa, Upper Anfa, and Val d’Anfa, as well as all those who surround this area, close to the sea without having the drawbacks of the spray, but also to the south, as Le Polo and Les Crêtes.
Customers who want to build a luxurious villa at the end of the 40s have in front of them, thanks the cinema, a range of adapted models. American cinema, and the American film capital, with a climate similar to that of Casablanca, the two cities being located on the same parallel, provides in the dream the haves. Los Angeles appears to many as a place of interesting experiences for the future of their city. The Americans themselves are your presence in the city. The base of Nouaceur, installed a few kilometers away, makes it possible to equip oneself with avant-garde household appliances, to listen to the broadcasts of the American radio, and to read the decorating magazines that make the bourgeois dream. On the other hand, architects are particularly interested in the luxury homes of Neutra, Bruce Goff, or Schindler as the programs requested by customers where oceanfront sites are often similar. Despite their sometimes provocative formal modernity, luxury villas still use their program in mansions or apartments, equipped with all the modern comforts of Parisian buildings in the beautiful neighborhoods at the turn of the 20th century, despite the modern aesthetics of the 1950s. open reception, smoking room to the lingerie, the hall to the roof terrace, nothing is missing.
Elie Azagury reinterprets the patio of the traditional Moroccan house in a villa on the hill of Anfa with an exceptional view of the city. Critics note the evolution of the local device adapted to a different way of life, that of Europeans: The patio abandons its traditional character in Morocco to participate widely in the reception rooms and opens widely on the terrace overlooking the garden and the garden. city.
Large speculative operations, as well as small buildings commissioned by private owners, continue to offer the poorly housed residents of Casablanca, very comfortable apartments. In this category, the duplexes made a remarkable entrance. The Morandi Liberty building offers the Casablancers a solution, the seventeen storey tower building, which amazes them. The newspapers of the time testify to a question widely shared: can we live with pleasure so high, having so many neighbors? The pride of living in a city with the tallest building in Africa will not remove some people’s doubts about the quality of life in a tower.
Casablanca represents a set of different currents of modern and contemporary architecture. Here good ideas have been developed, others, which have sometimes proved otherwise catastrophic, have been adopted. Some elements of architectural modernity have been successes here. Coating, for example, does not age as quickly in this climate as in Europe; terraces, loggias, roof terraces, patios, piles are welcome because, while aerating and sanitizing the house, they are part of cultural practices spread quickly among foreigners. Some of these devices have always been parts of Moroccan culture, such as the rooftop terrace and the ancestor of the cloister, Moucharabieh. The successful alliance of the traditional little cottage, sparingly decorated white cube, and a modern vision of architecture is patent. The tall buildings of the early development of the city bear witness to a moment of architectural thought; they are also indispensable elements of the urban structure. The attention paid to the comfort of their apartments makes them, even today, pleasant to live in. An object of study that is valuable for the sake of understanding. Casablanca is an extension of urban planning and architecture, both French and international, insofar as it is well established in a multipolar field and not in the only metropolitan / Protectorate dialogue. On the other hand, the urban policies put in place, the mixed architectures have created a process of interaction between the old city and new city, the architecture of progress, and architecture of the tradition which deserves to be better explored. Highlighting this complex story that allows us to assess the quality of these architectural achievements can also be useful in defining and understanding an exceptional heritage, at a time when public preservation strategies are extending to the architecture of the 20th century.
FRENCH ARCHITECTS WHO BUILT MODERN MOROCCO
Societe Generale Maroc, a building designed by Edmond Gourdain in Ville Nouvelle (New Town) of Casablanca, Morocco, showing a combination of Hispano-Moorish and French Art Deco styles.
HISTORY – When he arrived in 1912 in Morocco, the resident general Hubert Lyautey already has plans for the new Moroccan cities: they will be in the withdrawal of the medinas, said “native” cities, will be real laboratories of experimentation and will be inspired all the same from the local culture.
And who better to manage this large site than Henri Prost? Recommended by the landscape architect Jean-Claude Nicolas Forestier, he is appointed the head of the Department of architectural and urban planning services of the jurisdiction.
Born in Saint-Denis on the 25th of February in 1874 in a northern suburb of Paris, He began his studies at the Special School of Architecture and was admitted in 1893 to the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, in the Lambert studio. After having been a logistic three times, he obtained the first Grand Prix of Architecture in 1902 on the program “A National Printing Office.” Pensioner of the Academy of France in Rome, he stays at the Villa Medici in Italy. He chooses for his fourth-year regulatory dispatch the reconstitution of Hagia Sophia of Constantinople in Turkey.
Returning to France, he won in 1910, the first prize of the international competition for the extension plan of Antwerp. In 1911, his drawings of restoration of Hagia Sophia were exhibited at the Salon of French artists who awarded him his medal of honor.
The same year, he founded, with Agache, Auburtin, Bérard, Forestier, Hénard, Hébrard, Jaussely, Parenty and Redont the French Society of Planners (SFU).
In 1913, on the recommendation of G. Risler (Urban and Rural Hygiene section of the Social Museum), he was called by Marshal Lyautey to direct the architectural services of the Protectorate in Morocco. In this capacity, he draws up the master plans of Casablanca, Rabat, Fez, Meknes, Marrakech and elaborates the project for the General Residence of Rabat
A French urban planner and architect, Prost was best known for his job in Turkey and Morocco and, where he designed several large urban plans for Casablanca, Marrakech, Fes, Rabat, Meknes, and Istanbul, that includes transport system as well as boulevards with plazas, buildings, squares parks, and promenades.
Prost brought a group of urban planners, architects, and landscapers who will make large Moroccan cities a real lab experiment. Together, they’ll perfect the Art Deco style, a resolutely modern architecture, using the latest materials and an oriental touch, without sinking into pastiche.
A colonial medina in Habous
In 1923 New Medina was created, the Habous quarter, to be able to build a definite separation between the Moroccan quarters and the European and offer immigrants more space in Casablanca’s traditional structures.
Prost lived for ten years in Morocco, and later the city was glorified as a triumphant tale upon applying the principles of urbanism. In 1923, he left Morocco but will continue the work begun since the metropolis.
“l’Institut d’urbanisme” and the Special School of Architecture “l’Ecole spéciale d’architecture” with a course entitled “Art and technique of the construction of cities”.
In 1928, Prost was charged with establishing the master plan of the Paris region, which the law of May 14, 1932, made compulsory. The plan it presents in May 1934 shows agglomeration perimeters around cities, to limit the anarchic development of the individual habitat and limit the consequences in terms of degradation of sites and landscapes. The plan also puts in place a structure of rapid communication routes.
In 1932, Prost animated, with its founder Jean Royer, the first issue of the journal Urbanisme.
In 1933, he is responsible, with the engineer Marcel Rotival, to establish the development plan of the Algiers region.
Henri Prost was elected a member of the Academy of Fine Arts in 1933 and president of the Central Society of Architects in 1936.
Between 1936 and 1951, as part of the reforms initiated by Mustafa Kemal former president of Turkey to modernize Turkey, Prost was appointed urban planner of Istanbul and charged to establish the master plan. The aim is to adapt the ancient city, with its three sectors of the Golden Horn, Beyoglu, and the Asian coast, to the conditions of modern life. It establishes recreation parks, protected areas around historical monuments, clears mosques for scenic effects, and advocates safeguarding habitat and traditional activities.
He passed away in Paris on July 16, 1959.
In 1947, Michel Ecochard succeeded Henri Prost and continued this project, which will give birth to modern Moroccan cities as we know them today.
Also an archeologist, Michel Ecochard studied at the Beaux-Arts in Paris from 1925 to 1931. He worked in Syria and Lebanon from 1931 to 1944. He was appointed Director of the Urban Planning Department of Morocco in 1946, a position he held until in 1953. It carries out the plan of development and extension of Casablanca, 1949-1952, as well as those of most other cities of Morocco.
In this role, Michel became the lead in big expansion programs, usually in Casablanca. Initially, Ecochard together with his team of planners and architects from France examined cityscape and the informal lodging in Morocco which is severely laid out on the territory. From there, they try to look for fast resolutions for the lodging scarcity in a nation were countryside areas were being left in favor of the major industrialized cities. In this setting, Ecochard created a decisive urban planning survey tool to be able to review the foregoing conditions and the cultural, social, and commercial settings.
Fez, Marrakech, Meknes, or Casablanca were mainly built by French architects whose mission was to imagine the Moroccan city of today.
Marius Boyer, the master of art deco
Among the instigators of this architectural revolution is Marius Boyer. In Casablanca, the very austere Vox cinema and the discreet and yet meticulously decorated Hotel Volubilis, it is him. When talking about the colonial architecture of the white city, the name of Marius Boyer is inevitable. It is one of the architects who have most marked the modern city of Casablanca with his stroke of a pencil.
Marius Boyer graduate from the Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris in 1904 and was one of the precursors of the art deco style. He landed in Casablanca around 1919 and joined forces with the architect Jean Balois from 1925 to 1929.
It did not prevent the architect from diversifying the composition of facades, to juggle between buildings overloaded with ornamentation and purely functionalist buildings. Some of his notable works: Hotel Volubilis (1920), Town Hall (1927-1936) now Wilaya, Hotel Anfa (1938, destroyed), Glaoui building (1922), Atlas Hotel (1922-1923), Building of the Comptoir des Mines (1923), Commercial Bank of Morocco (1930), Building Asayag or Assayag (1930-1932), Military Circle, Cinema Vox (1935, destroyed) at the time the largest cinema in Africa, Villa El Mokri
Jean Balois, the functionalist architect
Although he has long been in the shadow of his partner Marius Boyer, Jean Balois has nevertheless shone on the Moroccan architectural scene. Arrived in Morocco in 1919, this architect graduated from the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Dijon, initially practiced in the architectural services of the General Residence before opening his office architect in Rabat. He then collaborates with Boyer with whom he installs an office in Casablanca. His most outstanding works? The Jules Ferry school group and the Glaoui building in Casablanca, as well as a building on the corner of Mohammed V Avenue and Alexandria Street in the new city of Rabat.
Edmond Brion studied at the Paris School of Fine Arts in the Paulin studio and in 1911, he went to École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. He built the Tasso building in 1931 and that of the Commercial Grain Corporation.
Its two major buildings are the Bendahan courtyard building in 1935, which borders the 16-November Square then called “Place Edmond-Doutté” and the Bank al-Maghrib. After 1935, the date of his separation from Cadet, Brion moved away from the neo-Moroccan and art-deco styles characterizing their common achievements. It asserts itself in a modern, luminous, and stripped writing, of which the Bendahan building is an exemplary illustration. Built on a trapezoidal plot, the building offers, on a ground floor reserved for businesses, four levels of housing, including three with apartments of three to four rooms.
It also realizes the building of the Moroccan Company of distribution of water, gas, and electricity (1919-1920), that of Grand Bon Marché, Boulevard of the Station, and the building Baille in Bouskoura street, place Edmond-Doutté (1930). He is the author of the trade passage SUMICA and the building of Grand Socco Boulevard de la Gare (1929).
Arrived in Casablanca at the end of the First World War, Auguste joined Edmond Brion until the mid-30s, plays a decisive role in the realization of the new Medina Habous district, based on an initial project of Albert Laprade.
Some of his important works include Habous Quarter, Semi-Detached Villa in rue Rouget de Lisle, Villa Capt, Moulay Youssef Mosque, 1925 Ministry of Health “Ministère de la Santé” (Central Pharmacy) in rue des Ouled Ziane, Michaut building, streets of the Post Office, Poincaré and Clemenceau, Villa Gras in rue Voltaire, Alexandre Bouvier building and the Moroccan Metallurgical Society “la Société marocain métallurgique”, Building and passage of the Grand Socco, Villa Goulven in rue de Nieuwpoort, Villa Theil in rue Defly-Dieude
His masterpiece, specially Mahkama Pasha of Casablanca, bordering this new medina where the highlight of his career takes place.
Auguste and Edmond created what represents today one of the most atypical neighborhoods of the economic capital. Associated until the mid-30s, they planned the district Habous. A community mixing residences and businesses bringing its soul in the Moorish identity, but which conceals in its details a spirit of modernity. Together, they also design estate banks in Morocco, including Marrakech, Jamaâ El-Fna, El Jadida, and Oujda.
In 1956, he passed away in Casablanca.
Jean-Claude Nicolas Forestier, the defender of plant heritage
Forestier will make Marrakech and Rabat garden cities. In the 1920s, this French landscape architect is responsible for thinking the very spirit of the Moroccan capital. He then implements a series of parks following a “special plan of free spaces.” An action he undertakes to preserve and enhance the plant heritage of Rabat. In Marrakech, the network of parks is already existing, but the landscape architect is busy integrating it into the planning of new European neighborhoods.
Henri Tastemain, the architect of the reconstruction of Agadir
Tastemain is one of the last arrivals, and certainly one of the youngest French architects who arrived in Morocco towards the end of the jurisdiction. Graduated in 1950 from the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris, he came with his wife to Morocco to found his firm. It is to him that we entrust the construction of the leading Moroccan faculties. Thus, he draws the buildings currently hosting the faculties of the science of Fez, Marrakech, Rabat, and Casablanca. Tastemain is also known to have been one of the architects of the reconstruction of Agadir, following the earthquake that struck the seaside town in 1960.
Henri Tastemain was born in Paris in 1922 and died in Paris on March 6th, 2012.
He studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts from 1940 in workshops Perret and Lods and graduated in 1950 (Guadet price). He collaborated with Paul Nelson in 1947. He worked as an urban planner in Morocco under the direction of Michel Ecochard and Jean Chemineau in 1948 and 1949. He moved to Rabat, in association with his wife Eliane Castelnau, in 1951. In 1959 and 1960, he is the consulting architect of the French Cultural and Academic Mission in Morocco. In 1967, he received the 3rd prize at the Pessac monetary institution. Henri Tastemain teaches at the National School of Fine Arts in Paris in 1969. In 1970, he is the chief architect of the ZAC of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray near Rouen. In 1971, the company Matra named him an architect consultant. In the years 1975-1980, he built several faculties of science in Morocco.
Pierre Jabin, the intellectual architect
Born in Blida, Algeria in 1894, Jabin moved to Morocco after the end of the First World War. First in Casablanca, where he opens his offices, then in Agadir, where he retires. It is to Pierre Jabin that we owe the art deco cinema Rialto, one of the first places dedicated to the seventh art that was born in Casablanca, in 1930. The French architect “used the pencil and the feather with the same ease,” as the quarterly magazine Notre Maroc wrote in 1950. Jabin took the opportunity to contribute to several national media to expose his vision of architecture, city, and urbanism.
In 1919 when the war was over, he settled in Morocco. He was active in Casablanca and was associated with François Pénicaud.
He is the author in Casablanca, among others, of the Villa Cohen (1931), the Moretti-Milone building (1934-1935), the Rialto cinema (1929), the brasserie Le Petit Poucet (1929), and the Liscia building and Lux cinema (1937).
Pierre Jabin died in Nantes in 1967.
Adrien Laforgue, the architect of the State
Born in 1871, Adrien Laforgue practiced in Rabat from 1912 until his death in 1952. In Casablanca, he is the author of the Central Post Office (La Poste) which was built at the same time as the current French consulate and took as a model, the Grand’Poste of Algiers, made a few years ago. He is also the man behind the Office Cherifien des Phosphates and the Rabat city station, which The opposite of the place still occupied by military encampments at the time. He died in 1952.
Albert Greslin, the architect with luxury tastes
Casablanca said thank you for having designed its municipal slaughterhouses, become one of the typical places of the underground culture of the economic capital. Greslin, who arrived in Morocco two years before the First World War, was passionate about big-budget projects, where he could create luxurious places where comfort is required. One remembers, in particular, the building of the Imcama, which cost not less than 8 million francs at the time of its construction in Casablanca. He is also responsible for several renowned villas on the outskirts of Casablanca and the church of Maarif, in the same city.
Edouard Delaporte, the concrete lover
Born in Paris in 1909, Delaporte began painting in 1929 when he was 20 years old. He went to school at the Paris’ Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux-Arts and came to be an architect in 1937, recognized by the government. He was called to serve in World War II in 1939. When the war was over, Delaporte left France in 1946, and transferred to Rabat, Morocco. For a decade he built several villas, government buildings, and private homes. Upon Morocco’s independence in 1956, he returned to France and settled in Antibes. He transferred to a small town in the interior of Nice in Saint-Jeannet, in 1978 where he devoted himself to painting. He died at his home, Place sur le Four on 6th of July 1983.
It is to him that we owe Villa Delaporte to Casablanca, bearing his name. Nowadays an art gallery, this building is distinguished by the clarity of its spaces, its resolutely modern design, drawing its ornamentation in the Moroccan culture. The architect and painter Edouard Delaporte, who arrived in Rabat after the Second World War, also built several emblematic buildings in the city of Rabat using concrete as a material of choice. Among them, we remember including the gymnasium of the Foch stadium or the Ben Kemoun building in Rabat.
Delaporte arrived in 1913 in Casablanca. He signed with the Perret brothers Paris-Maroc stores which was inaugurated in 1914 became the Moroccan Galleries, demolished in the 1970s.
He is also the author of the Excelsior hotel, the Maret building, and the small villas of the rue du Parc.
The Excelsior, decorated with a whitewashed colonial frontage and Spanish tile, was designed by Hippolyte-Joseph Delaporte, a French architect in 1916.
Albert Laprade (29 November 1883 – 9 May 1978) was a French architect, perhaps best known for the Palais de la Porte Dorée in Paris. Attached to the general residence of France in Rabat Morocco, where he is the deputy of Henri Prost, the urban planner of Lyautey. He participates in the construction of the indigenous city of Casablanca and has conducted extensive field studies of Moroccan urban architecture before he set out to design the neighborhood in 1917
Albert Laprade is the architect of the General Residence of Rabat and the lighthouse of El Hank also called Phare d’el Hank, as well as the French consulate in Casablanca built-in 1922.
In 1928, called the new architectural style that was developing in Morocco as a “synthesis of the Latin spirit and love for autochthonous art”. He saw the vision as combining “values of ambiance” with a “whole way of life”. Albert knows that architecture was alive, and “should express a sentiment.”
Born on March 7, 1914, Leonard Morandi is a Swiss architect and putative descent a great-grandson of Napoleon III. He arrived in Lyon in 1933 to learn about architecture, studied at the National School of Fine Arts of Lyon in 1936, where he continued his schooling under the leadership of Tony Garnier, Grand Prix of Rome in 1899, then with Pierre Bourdeix, his successor.
In later part of 1946, Léonard made a prospective trip to Morocco, as suggested by his father-in-law Henri Lumière, and started constructing condominiums. He settled permanently in Casablanca in 1947 and later was asked to work on a large building of houses and offices on behalf of three entrepreneurs from Lyon, Grenoble, and Marseille, the 17-story Liberty Building, the first skyscraper in North Africa.
Some of Leonard’s works include the 1950 Pélissard Offices in El Bakri Street, Villa du Dr. Blanc, the 1949 Villa Dar Lugda in Anfa Supérieur, the 1952 Villa Fleureau in avenue de Boulogne, and the 1954 Chapel in city Ohana in Bd Moulay Youssef.
Léonard Morandi built many luxurious buildings and villas in Morocco until 1956.
Born on the 19th of February 1881 in Marseille, Paul Tournon was a French architect who studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris in 1902. He heads several national palaces and French civil buildings and a part of the Academie des Beaux-Arts.
He is recognized for his reinforced concrete religious’ buildings like the Church of St. Therese of the Child Jesus in Élisabethville (Yvelines). Tournon was famous for designing 15 religious buildings in reinforced concrete, including the Church of the Holy Spirit in Paris.
He built three churches in Morocco, that of the Sacred Heart in Casablanca (Cathédrale du Sacré-Cœur )- whose Marshal Lyautey wanted to make the cathedral of Morocco, St. Joseph of the Ocean in Rabat, and the small sanctuary of Ifrane, summer resort settlers from Morocco.
He died in Paris on the 22nd of December 1964.
A Casablanca-born French architect in 1916, often referred to as the Moroccan Oscar Niemeyer. He studied at the École Nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts and graduated the year 1945 before starting a private practice in Morocco.
Aga Khan Award for Architecture was given as recognition to Jean-François Zevaco during the 1978-1980 cycle for the 1965 Courtyard Houses he built in Agadir. He devoted his career to establishing the very principle of modernity in Moroccan architecture. He’s the architect who designed several buildings that are now part of the daily lives of Moroccans. Witness the busy Zevaco villa, initially designed for the family Suissa, which bears his name, which for several years has been home to the bakeshop Chez Paul, specializing in catering.
In 1947, the architect Zevaco produced a stunning villa on a corner lot in Casablanca’s affluent Anfa district. Nicknamed Villa Butterfly (Villa Papillon) due to its cantilevered balcony and canopy, this three-bedroom house displays an exciting mix of the Parisian bourgeois arrangement of domestic programs and innovative formal vocabulary reminiscent of Brazilian lyric Modernism.
Concrete was certainly Zevaco’s favorite material. New material at the time that he exploited all the sauces conferring an austere, imposing, and strict to his buildings, but paradoxically organic. For example, the current Crédit Agricole facing the Rabat station, where fluid shapes soften the brutalism of the varnished concrete in architectural details such as Moucharabieh incorporated into the main facade. It is a building that has aged but remains timeless.
Jean-François Zevaco died in indifference in 2003, in his villa Casablanca, following a long illness. He did not have much in his last days and even managed to sell his furniture to survive.
Wolfgang Ewerth is an architect of German origin who practices in Casablanca from 1954 to 1975 where he realizes villas, including the famous villa of Doctor B. in the form of slab which has become a landmark for Casablancais who call it familiarly the “Camembert”, as well as that of Serge Varsano, the California aesthetic.
Originally from Pau (Pyrénées Atlantiques), Lendrat was initially a grocer at a shop in the Provost (Mohamed el Hansali) street in the old medina. Having bought the wreck of a boat stranded on the beach of Ain Diab, it gets rich, which leads him to buy the land of Roches-Noires, having learned of a military construction project there.
After the project once abandoned, he seeks to sell his land in lots, to no avail. He then decided to build a new district, launched a brickyard to build houses, and sells the sand from the beach to the company Schneider for the construction of the port. He will also embark on journalism before ending his days ruined in the 1930s
Pierre Bousquet is an urban planner, graduated from l’École d’urbanisme de Paris. He is present in Casablanca since 1914 and he practices there until 1952. Also the architect of many important buildings such as the Lyautey Lycée, the Civil Hospital, the Institute Pasteur, the Post Office, the Bourse, and the Martinet building. He built the Casablanca’s Central Market in 1917.
CASABLANCA’S CLIMATE AND ARCHITECTURE
The architecture under the Protectorate is often presented as an experimental laboratory where the builders from France have tested various and varied architectural solutions, to export them to the metropolis.
But this architecture is also part of a very particular environment, Morocco, a country with both Mediterranean and Atlantic climate, with a dry and hot season that precedes a cold and wet season.
In what way does the climate mark this architecture of its imprint and influence the solutions adopted by architects to shape their buildings?
We will first see that the architecture of the Protectorate is the heir to a long tradition of adaptation of buildings to climate, adaptation which, in a second time, results in particular arrangements of which it is possible to establish a short typology. But these climatic elements are also an unsuspected resource for architects and their works.
A “climate” architecture of ancient tradition
French architects are inspired, in their constructions, by solutions already experienced in traditional Moroccan architecture.
Indeed, in this one, the blind walls of the houses of the medina, their orientation and their building materials, the alleys that wind between them, the patios – called in Arabic “wast-ed-dar” – sometimes surrounded by colonnades, tiled and trimmed with green plants, the cloisters over the doors or at the top of the walls to circulate the air, the brise-soleil … are all visible signs that show the “climate” concerns of the architects of the historic city in the Middle Ages.
Historic buildings in Habous, Casablanca
But this architecture has been extensively studied by French architects landing in North Africa in the early 20th century, curious to learn more about local buildings: including Albert Laprade who carefully draw the details of the vernacular architecture of the medina, sketch that we find reproduced in The Arab House of Jean Gallotti. There is no doubt that the French architects knew how to retain these lessons and draw an interesting part of these construction processes, even if the European cities, “new cities”, contiguous to the medinas do not have much more to do with them and perhaps do not have the ecological dimension, terribly current today.
But we can go further still: the patio, the colonnades, this mixture between outside and inside refer to the Roman architecture, which developed on several Moroccan sites (Volubilis, Lixus, Banasa) in the first centuries of our era. Here again, we find this intimate entanglement of the interior and exterior, in this case of well-known sections of the Roman villa: the atrium, whose cover is pierced by an opening – “impluvium” – which lets the rainwater flow in a “compluvium”, a basin located in the center of the room. ; the peristyle, colonnade surrounding a garden (and sometimes a “piscina”) at the back of the villa, outdoor dining room or “summer triclinium.” It is true that Italy is a country where the temperatures can be quite lenient as well.
It is quite likely that the medieval architecture of the Moroccan medinas is partly to blame for this older antique architecture.
It is, therefore, to adapt to this climate that the French architects integrate into their buildings many developments quite impressive in a country where heat can be significant.
ELEMENTS OF COLONIAL BUILDINGS
When we walk to Casablanca (and other urban centers in Morocco) and wander through the streets of the new city by looking up, we can easily spot some of these developments, such as:
- The Belvedere – It could be defined as a 360 ° balcony, since, as its name indicates, its vocation is to allow those who stand in this small building or pavilion to enjoy a beautiful view of what surrounds them. It can take the form of a kiosk perched at the top or corner of a building.
- The terrace – The terrace is probably an extra space for the inhabitants of a building, where they can dry clothes of course, but also take the cool at dusk after a hot day. The buildings in terraces of Marius Germinal Boyer allow to clear such spaces and associate them (as on the Assayag building in Casablanca) to “bachelor.”
- The pergola – The pergola, made of horizontal beams, shaped like a roof, supported by columns, is a raised light structure that allows obtaining shade, that we grow around a climbing plant or that we put down over a wicker cane. The profile of this small building is quite recognizable, even from a distance.
- The hanging garden – The luxury brought to individual prestigious buildings of the time led the architects to build gardens suspended at the top of their buildings, for example, that of the building “Liberté” on the last floor, sheltered by a pergola.
- the balcony – The balcony allows you to enjoy the outdoors from your apartment, which is an extension projected outward: we find a substantial quantity and all forms in the new cities.
- The spinning balcony – The balcony can also be spinning: it runs horizontally all along the facade, often on the penultimate floor as on the Haussmanian buildings. It sometimes fits into a larger ensemble, such as a corbelled bow window.
- The loggia – The loggia, a word of Italian origin, is a variation on the theme of the balcony. In the loggia too, one is both a little inside and a small outside at a time. It corresponds to a recess in front of the building, protected by a parapet, sheltered from the sun and rain at the same time. It is sometimes embellished with columns. The loggia and the balcony often alternate on the facades, in a skillful filling game to which the architects devoted themselves.
- The gallery – The gallery is a variety of loggia which, like the spinning balcony, develops on the whole of a floor.
- The veranda – Extension of the building, the veranda plays on the ground floor a role similar to that of the balcony or loggia, protected and mixed space, combining versatile indoor and outdoor.
- The sunshade – The purpose of the sunshade is to limit the inconveniences associated with violent exposure to light rays falling on a bay or opening: smaller than an awning, it overcomes windows or cornices.
- The canopy – Like the sunshade for the window, the awning comes off the wall over a door to bring shade.
- The porch – The porch is still an intermediate space, outside but sheltered, between the building and the outside. Often with a small roof, it is supported by columns or pillars and is sometimes extended by a flight of steps.
- The portico – The porticoes or covered buildings that seem to support buildings at their base create a path for pedestrians and walkers away from heat, sun, or rain.
- The external staircase – It often looks like a helix attached to a corner of the building.
- The cloister – The trellis is a perforated wall, often embedded in a bay, allowing either the circulation of air in the upper parts of the walls or to see without being seen when it plays the role of the window. Of course, the ajourance gives rise to a particular design, more or less vegetal or geometric, whose interest is also aesthetic.
Of course, all these elements can be combined: balcony or loggia?
These are the most visible elements, often on the front. But architects have worked for this purpose (adapting to the climate) also in the structure of buildings. So Marius Boyer also landscapes of cold air columns in its premises to cool parts. It does not leave courses closed inside, conducive to the installation of cold and humidity, but opens and directs these buildings to collect the best and hottest rays of the day conveniently.
However, this “climate” dimension, useful as it may be, does not have only one purpose: the contemporaries of these architectures had the fine game of putting forward another advantage obtained by the presence of these elements.
“Climate” elements at the service of the decorative
Sometimes, architects like to arrange scholarly and rhythmic balconies and loggias on the same facade. This is because they immediately identified all the aesthetic and decorative elements that they could draw from this constraint that pushes them to find solutions to the need for the freshness of the inhabitants.
So these climate elements are often the support of decoration, like the zelliges or the bas-reliefs, the balconies in wrought iron too, in any case until the years 1930, at the moment where the facades “purify” and stripped of their ornaments.
But later, on these same “functionalist” surfaces, the layout of the various components – windows, balconies, loggias … – becomes an aesthetic issue that is echoed in the literature of the time: Jean-Michel Cohen and Monique Eleb quote Henri Descamps, in French architecture in Morocco, introduction: “Moroccan creation”, pp. 911-912: “In the European house, the climate is manifested by a profusion of porches, canopies, balconies, and terraces, through the creation of porticoes along the shopping streets. This succession of arcades manages to give a certain cachet to Casablanca which, without it, would have a rather banal aspect of a big modern city. ”
It seems that adaptation to the Moroccan climate has been a real concern of French architects who worked in this part of the world and at that time.
When we walk in Moroccan cities, we also quickly realize that contemporary Moroccan architecture is a significant part of the architecture that preceded it: very often indeed, the facades of current or recent buildings digging loggias or rounding balconies.
If it is true that knowing an architecture can identify it quickly and correctly in the varied architectural landscape of a city and appreciate it better, this article may contribute to the recognition of this shared heritage that constitutes the colonial architecture of the Protectorate, and therefore its protection and conservation.
CASABLANCA: AN EXPERIMENTAL LABORATORY OF THE 2OTH CENTURY ARCHITECTURE
From 1920, in the very heart of the roaring twenties, the beginnings of art deco, pioneers and settlers will encourage Casablanca to become the locomotive and symbol of a future Morocco: modern, dynamic, and open.
Thus, Casablanca, a laboratory of urban planning and innovations where, decorative pluralism, latest trends, and use of new technologies, such as in 1917 that of reinforced concrete, will be tested and all these currents, will make the city what it represents today.
We find all styles: Arab-Andalusian revisited to the French, art nouveau, neo-classicism, art deco, neo-Moorish, functionalism, cubism, hygiene, building redans, and brutalism.
Curved lines, symbols of art nouveau, geometric shapes and art deco features, decorations and ornaments of cherubs, fruit baskets or lion heads, all elements and mixtures that, with harmony, with friezes of zellige, stucco and carvings of cedarwood, form, in particular, the interests of the numerous administrative buildings of the city center, or as also the Hotel Excelsior, give a particular tourist attraction, very representative of these times with the surprising visible creativities at Casablanca.
Casablanca, which was also the capital of modern architecture under the influence of the building “Levy Bendayon” of 1928 of the architect “Marius Boyer”, the building “Moretti-Milone” of 1934 by “Pierre Jabin” before giving way to the ultra-modern style of villas with Californian accents and the first African skyscraper “freedom building” of “Leonard Morandi” 78 meters high, designed in the 1950s.
- Arab-Andalusian style– is noted for its decorative elements. This includes wrought iron gratings, Azulejo (painted ceramic) tiles, and lavish landscaping.
Examples of Arab-Andalusian buildings in Casablanca – Palace of Justice and the fountain visible on the Mohamed V square.
- Art Nouveau style: is an international style of art, architecture and applied art, especially the decorative arts. It was most popular between 1890 and 1910. A reaction to the academic art of the 19th century, it was inspired by natural forms and structures, particularly the curved lines of plants and flowers.
Examples of Art Nouveau buildings in Casablanca – the remains of the facade of the Lincoln hotel of 1917, part of which collapsed in 2009, the post office building of Avenue Mohamed V built-in 1918 by Adrien Laforgue, the first building of this district, Bank Al-Maghrib of Casablanca
- Art Deco style: called style moderne, movement in the decorative arts and architecture that originated in the 1920s and developed into a major style in western Europe and the United States during the 1930s at the end of the world war. The distinguishing features of the style are simple, clean shapes, often with a “streamlined” look.
Examples of Art Deco buildings in Casablanca – The villa of arts, the old church of the Sacred Heart, The district itself which was at the time of the French protectorate the European district of the city with the administrative square, the Arab League Park, the wide boulevards
- Neo-Moorish style: also called Moorish Revival is one of the exotic revival architectural styles that were adopted by architects of Europe and the Americas in the wake of the Romanticist fascination with all things oriental. With the 1930s, the time is stripping, comfort and modernity are the keywords or architectural creations thus sweeping the neo-Moorish style and ornamental profusion. The new generation of architects who landed in Casablanca at the end of the 1920s had only one obsession: to put into practice the modern theories learned on the benches of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris. From then on, the work on the volumes replaces the one on the decorations which give way to the balconies, to the bow-window saving space; the facades of the buildings, which are constantly gaining height, are bare. Luxury buildings, or those of current production, take into account the concern for comfort that animates the Casablanca bourgeoisie and all are equipped with elevators, garbage incinerators, garages, and bathroom apartments. Real works of art, luxury buildings in the city center will be named after their sponsor, thus making reference to monuments in this “new city”. But it is in the villas that the architects leave all their ingenuity where they experience the latest discoveries in terms of housing and comfort. Highly impressed by the profusion of constructions, international critics will all agree to describe Casablanca as the capital of modern architecture. Examples of Neo-Moorish buildings in Casablanca – the Bessoneau building of 1930 before its destruction in 2011, the building erected in 1925 the “Piot-templier” a work of Pierre Ancelle.
- Functionalist style– the modern Cubist movement recognized through constructivism in the USSR, then Bauhaus in Germany has been represented in Casablanca beginning the 1920s. The bare facades of these buildings will shape the modern impression of the city.
Cubist architecture thrived primarily in the 1910-1914 years, however, the buildings in the cubist style, or at least influenced by it, were constructed too after World War I. When the war was over, an architectural style called “rondo cubism” flourished in Prague. It was a blend of round shapes and cubist architecture.
SHOULD CASABLANCA’S COLONIAL HERITAGE BE PRESERVED?
The biggest city of Morocco, Casablanca is far from the remainder of the nation’s real urban areas that were established between the 17th – 15th C. The history of Casablanca is just as of late.
The city was among the five newly arranged urban areas in the country after the foundation of the French dominion in 1912. The political choice went for the production of present-day urban centers in the nearby walled medieval urban communities of Morocco. A French urban planner and architect, Henri Prost, was named as the leader of another office accountable for the improvement of the new urban communities. In 1915, Prost displayed the principal improvement strategy for Casablanca. The architect’s work turned into a reference for planning the city’s development in France after World War I.
Casablanca turned into a center point for famous European architects. The city became free to have experimented without any confinements or stylish limitations. The city has the greatest fixation to date of compared Art Nouveau, Neo-Classic, Neo-Moorish, Art Deco, and present-day structures, and is viewed as a live reference in design history.
The specific history of Casablanca makes a debatable discussion if its colonial buildings and urban condition ought to be saved as a component of Moroccan legacy. The discussion was begun by a little gathering of Casablanca occupants, who in 1995 made an affiliation known as Casamémoire to support, protect and classify the downtown area’s structures on the national rundown of historical structures and spots. The classification shall shield these structures from theorist ravenousness in a metropolis where lands intended for development is rare.
But then, national authorities don’t think about the conservation of colonial buildings as a primary concern. Until this point in time, just 49 structures are recorded and numerous others are essentially destroyed for safety reasons (because of their faulty construction) or to pave an area of new improvements. The tale of the Lincoln Hotel, a deserted 1916 Neo-Moorish structure, is descriptive of this encompassing carelessness.
In the midst of this circumstance, Casamémoire composes educational tours, happenings, and indications where local people of Casablanca gather to explore their city. “Les journées du Patrimoine” (legacy days), a 3-day occasion of free guided visits, is presently a yearly custom. The affiliation has likewise distributed a guide highlighting Casablanca’s diverse design styles and historic layers.
An ever-increasing number of individuals from Casablanca are getting to be mindful of the nature of their structural setting; however, progressively political commitment is required. Another improvement plan that moved Casablanca’ prime central avenue toward a pedestrian-friendly one and presented a platform for streetcars has given structures on this road an upgraded look, the same number of proprietors got involved with a façade reclamation program recommended by the latest strategy. Aficionados for architectural buildings are in any case, hanging tight for progressively auxiliary choices and activities that will concede a superior future to these structures.
Morocco: Casablanca, a remarkable architectural heritage but threatened
famous café and hotel “Excelsior” in Casablanca, Art Nouveau houses, colonial buildings, and Art Deco buildings, the architectural heritage of old Casablanca, the economic capital of Morocco, makes it a museum in the open, but it is threatened by negligence and real estate speculation.
On Boulevard Mohamed V, one of the oldest of “Casa”, the construction site of the future tramway, which will unclog the first metropolis of the Maghreb, does not prevent art lovers from admiring the architectural diversity of dozens of buildings dating, for the most part, from the beginning of the 20th century.
“One of the peculiarities of Casablanca is that it was, throughout the first half of the twentieth century, an architectural and urban laboratory, “said heritage defender of this mythical city.
“We can find buildings of the Art Nouveau style, buildings like the building, Maroc-Soir, behind us, made by the French architect Marius Boyer and which is of neo-Moorish style”.
Building for settlers in the 20s and 30s, then the local bourgeoisie, the international architects, mostly French, were inspired by the Art Deco and Art Nouveau currents in vogue in Europe, adding traditional Moroccan ornaments, zelliges, stucco or cedar wood carvings, creating an original style.
“The peculiarity of this medina is that it was inhabited by Muslims and Christians, besides the Jews, of course, among the Christians, there were Spaniards, Italians, Portuguese, French … and also fishermen, artisans, masons, traders, “he explains.
Casablanca is called Dar el Baida (“White City”) by the Arabs, according to the name given to it by the Spaniards at the time of its construction at the beginning of the XIX century, on an older site.
But the architectural heritage of Casablanca is today threatened by destruction, abandonment and real estate speculation.
The apartments are often occupied by tenants who pay “derisory rents”, which range from 500 to 2,000 dirhams per month (45 to 180 euros), according to a member of Casamemoire. Neither the owners nor the tenants maintain the buildings that are degrading. You have to pay up to 50,000 euros to get the tenants away.
Preserving urban landscapes
The absence of a heritage preservation policy allows real estate developers and speculators to destroy old buildings and replace them with new, higher and more profitable buildings, or to add floors to old buildings at the expense of unity. architectural.
“Rebooting is done to the detriment of the heritage and the city,” said a member of Casamemoire, whose association wants Casablanca to be classified in UNESCO’s heritage “as soon as possible” to end the excesses, a task which is the responsibility of the Ministry of Culture.
But register with UNESCO “a recent heritage as is Casablanca, which dates back to the 20s, is more complicated than if it were an old city.”
“Moreover, as it is the economic capital, the Moroccan authorities may not want to adopt measures that could curb the economic dynamism and real estate activity” of the city, says the French architect.
One of the symbols of the threat to heritage is the Lincoln Hotel, an architectural jewel designed in 1916 by the French architect Hubert Bride a few meters from the central market.
Crumbling historic Lincoln Hotel in downtown Casablanca
The Arabesque Art Deco building was used by American spies during World War II.
Closed in 1989, the hotel fell into ruin twenty years later, arousing great excitement among the locals. According to news, the Lincoln, a 1917 Moorish-Deco attraction that had for quite some time been vacant and disintegrating, is being revamped as a five-star property.
“Casamémoire has identified some 4,000 old buildings to protect,” says a member of architect order in Casablanca, the young and energetic vice-president of this association.
“But for us, the problem is not so much to protect each building as to preserve a cityscape: there is no Eiffel Tower in Morocco, there are urban landscapes whose architectural harmony must be protected”, he nuance.
“We must act quickly, we warn against the dangers of speculation, there are buildings that are in a state of disrepair very advanced,” said another famous architect of Casablanca, recognizing however that local authorities are more in addition sensitive to this question.
“There are different seminars, different heritage roundtables, people from the urban agency, from the town hall attend (…) Now we ask for action, and we see very few, we do not see not enough yet, “he concludes.
CASABLANCA’S MUST-SEE ARCHITECTURAL SPOTS
A visitor can still get that explorer to feel when traveling in Casablanca. Commonly missed by voyagers regardless of being Morocco’s most crowded city, it’s a city of that will surprise curious wanderers, even those who get lost. Its verdant lanes are fixed with lavish colonial buildings, and its marketplace is loaded up with fortunes culled from old estates.
Art Nouveau houses, colonial buildings, and Art Deco buildings, the architectural heritage of old Casablanca, the economic capital of Morocco, makes it a museum in the open. It’s a haven for art and history lovers for admiring the architectural diversity of dozens of buildings dating, for the most part, from the beginning of the 20th century.
Appreciate Morocco’s Colonial Past
Jean-Louis Cohen, a prominent history specialist and co-author of the book Casablanca: Colonial Myths and Architectural Ventures stated that Casablanca was the most innovative of the considerable number of urban communities of France’s domain. It was spread out as indicated by an inventive arrangement, with lovely parks and stunning engineering, from late Art Nouveau and Art Deco to the present modern period.
Imperial Casablanca Hotel and Spa
Architect: Marius Boyer
Gradually, a large number of these once-dismissed sweets are being recovered and renovated. The milestone 1934 Shell building, on the central avenue Mohammed V, has been changed over into the lustrous Imperial Casablanca Hotel and Spa.
During the 1930s, the progression of Art Deco Style and the decorative profusion gave place to simplicity. At that moment, Shell, the renowned oil company, assigned Marius Boyer a world-famous architect to design what then became branded as the “Shell Building”. Architect of several buildings which includes the headquarters of the Wilaya, Boyer designs ad innovative project utilizing the techniques still uncommon even in Europe.
The modern and sleek building used as Shell’s head office since its construction in 1934, turned out as Casablanca’s main landmark. Throughout World War II, the building was seized by the American army ad headquarters to a lot of operations headed by Gen. Patton. Upon restoring peace, the building recognized by its Shell decors frequently welcomes HRH Queen of the Netherlands and her husband, unconsciously contributing to the fortune of this building, presented nowadays as a hotel by its new owners.
Currently, a 4 Star Boutique Hotel that is a World War II site and once served as General Patton’s headquarters, the Imperial opened in 2013, joining the fantastical Hôtel and Spa Le Doge, a six-year-old boutique property in a reestablished manor. Notable manors are being renewed as restaurants and exhibitions, and a reclamation of the old Medina has started. Casamémoire, Morocco’s primary safeguarding association, which leads architectural visits, is initiating endeavors to have portions of Casablanca assigned as UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Bank Al-Maghrib building
Architect: Edmond Brion
Designed by Edmond Brion (1885-1973) and was completed in 1937, the Bank al-Maghrib located in on Blvd de Paris marks the limit between Casablanca’s civic government center and its Central Business District. As private-sector patrons of grand architecture, the banks welcomed the spirit of the official neo-Moroccan style, and of the times. Several of their buildings were totally modern, with no orientation to the classic Orientalist or European styles.
Banque al-Maghrib’s façade puts on carved stone replacing tiles, a classic technique in neo-Moorish style. Its monumental door weighs 5 tons when opened and the art deco interior’s grandness is designed with zellij patterns in modern rose and blue hues. Italian marquetry is utilized to form Amazigh patterns in the board room of the building which signifies the flourishing Casablanca at that time.
Architect: Léonard Morandi
Located on the Boulevard de la Liberté, the Liberte residential tower is the work of the Swiss architect, Léonard Morandi. Designed in 1949, it became the highest residential tower in Africa when built (1949-1951). The Liberty building stands 78 meters (256 ft) tall in Casablanca, the 17 storeys building is the symbol of resistance, freedom, and novelty.
The first African building to exceed 16 floors at the time, the Liberty building was quickly renamed “17th floor” by the Casaouis.
Everything is done to keep the atmosphere of the 50s. From the decoration to the furniture, through the switch buttons, the visit of the building takes us back to the time when it was built.
Architect: Pierre Jabin
The brightly colored Art Deco theater cinema Rialto seen on rue Mohammed Quorri was built in the 1930s by Pierre Jabin and has an Art Deco red and white facades. The cinema, during that era, has played host to music legends like Josephine Baker and Edith Piaf. It was here that, in April 1943, Josephine Baker presented a recital to the American soldiers who came to Casablanca to help the allies.
It is said to be the most beautiful cinema in Casablanca with its typical 1930s art deco façade, its bright colors, the boldness of its skeleton and cupola in reinforced concrete, a hall with 1350 seats, a vast entrance hall, a sunroof, moldings, stained glass, and art deco lighting.
Hassan II Mosque
The city of Casablanca is home to the famous Hassan II Mosque, built by Michel Pinseau, a French architect. It is located on a promontory that looks directly to the Atlantic Ocean and can be seen through a giant glass floor with room for 25,000 faithful.
The staggering Hassan II Mosque is a standout amongst the most popular tourist spots in Casablanca. Built during the 90s, it honors the sixtieth birthday celebration of the nation’s previous king. One of the greatest mosques on the planet, the photogenic structure sits close by the coast. Even Non-Muslims can get inside at specific occasions of the day, enabling guests to respect the wonder both in and outside. It was constructed utilizing the best materials and the abilities of the absolute best craftsmen throughout the nation. Respect the dynamic tile work and carvings. In fact, it is a standout amongst the most alluring structures in the entire of Morocco and is frequently said to be a standout amongst the most amazing mosques in the whole world.
The Accomplishments behind Hassan II Mosque
One can’t in any way, edify such a significant landmark as The Hassan II Mosque without being entranced by the possibility of the flawlessness of structures. To reach this flawlessness, you will require, precision, reasonableness as well as the fertile the shock of indestructible cultures, the vastness of horizons, a taste for eternity, the experience obtained through hundreds of years and condensed in one moment, gathered on the charming spot where the work twinkles and emanates the modes and images of magnificence.
The Hassan II Mosque appears to come from the most personal understanding with the very nature of materials. The engineering they are typified into, the design drenching them vouch for the imaginative pressure which interweaves, at different scales, materials that were crushed to emanate all the light they can give.
Casablanca, presently known as the City of the Hassan II Mosque, accomplishes the profound established desire of imperial cities, in Morocco and elsewhere, to tell the Islam whose memory will live on forever in the human mind. This Islam is no longer today only the culture that passed on the compass, powder, irrigation methods, rational algebra, bright marbles. The Book of Songs, the Hanging Gardens, or the legendary Quest of the Grail. It is first of all the religion which contributed to added to the liberation of man from his antique stupor. To declare these lights which anchor our history in our hopes, those that consolidate us in the solidify us in a hard time through a specific thought of the higher forgiveness.
The Hassan ll Mosque has its inherent qualities and those innate to its setting. Morocco, the land where Averroes, the missionary of tolerance and reason and where thousands of ingenious artists, kindled and educated by the Koran and by the Greeks’ geometry, artists all allured by polygonal developments, makers of the arabesques and so many other stylish qualities. They don’t interpret just the assets of a vast region, the long history, the sustained and enthusiastic exertion of several generations but express the high and popular determination as well. The mysterious and irresistible commitment to be present in the world, to mold history, to receive and give, to partake in a word the components that illustrate the stamped perseverance of the beings we are, dedicated to the creation and God, so limitlessly little in the endless space that is reminiscent of Him.
The Hassan II Mosque, launching from a rigorous faith, consecrates the renewal of Islamic arts, breaks with the visible world, and multiplies the images of the immeasurable. Its dimensions are reminiscent of the infinite, of the sidereal distances that the strange sculptures of cathedrals strived to express. It embodies the peak of the sacred art of all times, sparkling on the edge of the immense water stretch.
It corresponds to the moment when the life of nations and history became more intense, united, and back one another to generate a significant action or a work of art. The Hassan II Mosque means to prove and suggest, through anti-phrases, and in relationship with a world where all decisive conflicts are mainly part of the invisible border, the origin of the desire to last in the challenge of the unshakable faith faced to the strained shapes of the wave, recurring and renewing forever. In this privileged situation, the action and the work of the creator of the Mosque seem to be intimately linked. This was tangible on that day of 11th Rabi Thani of the year 1414 of the Hegira corresponding to August 30th, 1993 in Casablanca when The Hassan II Mosque was solemnly dedicated by the Sovereign of Morocco.
The choice of the date is not fortuitous. It corresponds to the eve of the anniversary of the birth of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) that Muslims celebrate in worship shrines by the reading out of psalms invoking the glory of the Creator of Worlds and that of His Messenger.
The site of The Hassan Il Mosque is unique. It is expressive of today’s Morocco. Cities of various ages had already confirmed the continental bent of the Islamic civilization. And today, it looks to the sea that is shared with the neighbors of the north. of the south, and of beyond the Atlantic. The structure built at the western tip of the Islamic world, fronting the sunset, the fog, and the waves of the open sea is at the uttermost edge of a world that is born in the Orient and whose farthest west is Morocco. The Extreme Maghreb (al-Maghrib al-Aqsa in Arabic) generic name of Morocco, for which the land roads and sea roads stick out from the nights and seas that unite forever.
One would willingly say that this construction, whose foundation is soaked in the water and whose head is craning towards the sky represents the bright hope mounting from the Mediterranean Orient, from Athens and Ispahan, to be offered to the whole world. Hence its dimensions and especially its crystal clear a message whose significance is free from any ambiguity. The roots of its pillars, ceaselessly beaten by the waves of the Ocean have required the construction of an eight hundred meters long pier that did not give up to the unfurling tides until the end of works.
The Mosque, being a shrine of prayer and devotion, recalls, after 14 centuries, Oqba Ibn Nati, the man who spread the Islamic faith, who bridled his horse only when the latter reared and dipped its nostrils in the Atlantic waters. Oqba then dismounted and shouted, “Lord, had not it been for the ocean, I would have continued on Your path to preach Your unlimited word.” Islam, the word of peace, has at last acquired this sign of the exchanges of the spirit that is proper to it, according to Christopher Columbus.
The magisterial echo! The far-reaching echo heard throughout Casablanca and heard at a 30 km distance in the ocean! The day and night echo spread by a laser ray emitted by the minaret arrowhead, which indicates the qibla. The symbol of a unique mosque, all those that preceded it is part of a time that is indeed inspiring, but that does not provide a similar model.
The use of modern technology naturally imposed itself in this architecture rich in renewed forces as the only way to master a 9-hectare building, a place which, after 7 years of sustained work, was to yield a prayer hall that can welcome more than 25 thousand devotees; a hall supported by 78 pillars were granite, marble, and onyx harmoniously interlace and cross their gleams. A huge hall capped with ceilings all wrapped with emerald green tiles. The green, the natural color in the land of Islam symbolizes goodness and spiritual abundance.
The technological feats were carried very far to help the building industry better and the Moroccan handicraft in a centuries-old experience, knowingly renewed. Handicraft alone has superbly revived because of the most modern ingenuity. The one and the other proving sometimes failing before the scope or the requirements dictated by originality. A lot of innovations were made that the world’s tallest crane was specially manufactured to achieve the heightening of the minaret that is topped by a skylight and by a Jamour made of shining copper — culminating at 200m. The concrete was made four times more resistant than necessary, not to consolidate the euro tunnel under the English channel but to erect a genuinely unique minaret.
The minaret of the Hassan II Mosque
The form and structure of the MAGHREB MINARETS were inspired initially from the square-shape northern tower of the Grand Mosque of Damascus (beginning of the VIIIth century).
This form, coming from the east was affirmed in the minaret of Kairouan (first half of the Village century), surmounted with two towers and a ribbed lantern and considered since then as the western prototype of minarets in North Africa.
This type of minarets will be reproduced in Andalusia, with The Grand Mosque of Cordoba. It will be adopted by the Giralda of Sevilla (566H/1171) and the Hassan Mosque of Rabat (593H/1196).
The minaret of Hassan II Mosque of Casablanca recalls by many aspects the height that reaches two hundred meters, and that makes of it a unique wonder. It is undoubtedly remigration, the square shape whose ratio is of 1 to 8 between the basement and the summit. But it was fleeing towards the infinite and of course on account of its neatness which is in itself a way to pay tribute to contemporary civilization.
The carved ornament covering the facades recall, by the composition of its interlaces, the Merinid achievements and by its chrome, with green as the predominant color, the Alaouite minarets.
The major innovation lies in the use of Stitches of Roudani travertine on a 100,000 M2 surface this decorative material has replaced here the bricks used in the construction of the Civilian minaret and even the cut stone of the minaret of the Hassan Mosque in Rabat.
Thus, it is undeniable the originality lies in its exceptional thrust towards the sky in its marble finery and the integration of varied elements.
III-THE OUTLINE OF ORNAMENTAL ARTS
Let’s see now how these great ornamental sets that spur life in materials as varied as zellij marble, plaster, wood or brass have expressed themselves in so majestic and imposing a space as that of the Hassan II Mosque.
One must stress these unusual dimensions where the ornamentation had to use, in higher and larger proportions and at the same time incorrect and balanced proportions designs that had for centuries been used to occupy a smaller space.
The “m’aallmi,” who were well aware of this, told us that they had to go over three hundred meters backward, perched in a sufficiently high building to observe, calculate, asses and re-assess for several weeks how their designs, even if excessively enlarged, would keep their shape and consequently their raison d’etre.
The minaret, which is eight times higher than its width at the base (a twenty-five-meter square base) and which is two-hundred-meter-high, is the undeniable proof of their success.
The primary ornamentation that of the square frieze of the top of the first tower, reflects far away from the two shades of its zellij, the green, and white whose symbolic will be expounded here below.
The main design is a big star with sixteen tips (settachiya) that leaves room in the filling in zones to a swirling of other circular designs. The beautiful symmetrical frieze which is provided to the viewer has in the middle of each side a full star and half a star at each angle of the tower.
This same zellij, whose raw material is a glass paste more resistant to the corrosion of the heights are repeated in the form of foils in the archways topping the series of windows of the tower and is similarly used in the diamond-shaped frieze on the top of the lantern.
Marble masons were thus allowed to take revenge in decoration matters and to achieve this vast diamond-shaped network that in the 12th century made the Hassan Tower of Rabat surge up.
Here again, the white (the mat marble stone) and the green (the zellij) harmoniously combine to draw in the depth of the interlacing, flower-shaped ornaments. They symmetrically run in diamond-shaped sets, up to the height of the four façades of the tower and of the lantern. The whole set bestows on the minaret a rare elegance.
On the other hand, the traditional ornamentation materials are found again in the vestibule of the minaret where a high ribbed dome is decorated with stucco, marble, copper, and zellij and topped by archways of plaster hanging like stalactites. Starting from the tambour, the alcoves grow higher and form in the top decorative lambrequin archways that are supported all along the hemicycle by elegant small columns of pink marble. The basement is covered with green zellij and the median wall embellished with a covering of carved and pierced yellow copper super imposing ornamentation of geometrical interlacings (tastir) topped with a long calligraphic frieze in cursive “naskhi repeating the formula consecrated to divine power “oua la ghaliba illa Allah.”
The epigraphic decoration of this shrine actively participates in the ornamentation of the whole monument. We find it again in the stucco, in the wood of the gates as well as in between the alcoves and in the copper openwork coatings; the same geologic formula fills in at regular intervals the decorative archways of paneled stucco; the letters alif and lam draw under the stalactites, lines that shape of the curves of the archways where they are inscribed forming thus a geometrics that is knowingly integrated in the whole.
Finally, an intersected frieze at the top of the stuccos, just over the archways of the alcoves repeats the formula of God’s omnipotence “ALLAHOU AKBAR The formula is written in Cufic and the grey-blue of the letters subtly stands out in the whiteness of the plaster.
The external façades
In its general layout, the Hassan I Mosque appears in the form of a large complex, two hundred meters long. one hundred meters large and sixty meters high, all built in reinforced concrete coated with marble stones where the artists-craftsmen intervened to decorate it with zellij, brass, titania, stucco and green and black marble for the columns of the madrassa which tops with its hemicycle the whole eastern façade.
We do not claim to make a detailed description of the elements making up its ornamentation, but we will try to highlight the main characteristics to underscore the spirit of order, symmetry, and unity marking it.
The southern façade
The visitor standing opposite the peristyle and arriving from the esplanade sees it as if cut in two by the minaret. It has on each side of this vertical line two monumental gateways, each of them is flanked by two gateways of smaller dimensions that are on their part flanked by two smaller gates.
Along with the basement of this line, such as is the case for the western and northern façades, runs a zellij where the predominant colors are the green and the white distributed on two figures of unequal dimension: a frieze, the largest, repeats at regular intervals stars with eight tips embellished with circular geometrical designs. And rightly above, runs a narrower frieze with a somewhat linear design, where lozenges of the same color are fitted and repeated.
All seems to have been conceived so that the background of the large frieze appeared green and that of the narrow frieze white. This chromatic atmosphere is the replica of that of the inaret and of walls of the façade where the balustrades are ornamented with interlaced circles coated with green zellij framing stars with six tips that are pierced and that let in the prayer hall a mellow light.
The ellij continues its symphony in major green and white in six panels forming fountains that are as many jagged, protruding archways that are ornamented, at the level of the tympanum with large six-tip rosacea and smaller stars. Besides, at each extremity of the façade, two fountains with the same dominating shades occupy the floor, forming a double line of star tips.
In the gateways of the southern façade, you have in opposition to this regularity in the repetition of the zellij coating, a subtle sense of architectural and decorative symmetry. Here again, the artist-zellijer intervened to discreetly underscored the curves of the archways and the long and narrow claustra topping them.
Finally, the brass of the primary and secondary gates is finely chiseled with star-shaped designs where the luster of the metal contributes to bringing out the yellow tint conveyed by the whole building.
The western façade
It is different from the previous one by the number of its gates that is reduced to three. The middle gate, the most solemn of the whole mosque, is reserved to the Sovereign. It enables him to have direct access to the mihrâb.
The brass ornamentation is identical to that of the gates of the southern façade. The only difference is that the Royal Gate is embellished with three big rosacea with twenty-four frame spaces.
Another characteristic outlines its solemnity. The gate is shaped like a horseshoe arch, topped with a high tympanum where the fan-shaped lozenge network sparkles on the whole surface. The lozenges interwoven in the base are progressively raised to give an impression of quasi-circular movement that is rarely found in the ornamentation of monumental gates. The yellow gold of its zellij contributes to making of the whole gate a unique work of art of the kind.
The memorial plates are pinned on both sides of the gate. The inscriptions are carved in golden letters in a spaced out writing:
– the plate on the left side recalls the date of the foundation (5 dhu-l-qi’da 1406/july 12th 1986)
– and the plate on the right side commemorates the dedication day(11 rabi’al-awwal 1414/august 30th 1993).
The northern façade
Parallel to the south, it includes nine glazed gates with jagged. protruding archways, each being flanked by two small gates that are equally glazed, the whole being framed by interlaced toils and topped by big semicircular arches ornamented with green zellij designs and with a six-tip stars openwork. The panes of glass and the open works contribute to lit the prayer hall with a bluish mellow gleam, a combination of the sky and the sea.
The median gate is surrounded by two big forts where you find again this perforated marble whose designs imitate the turned wood of the moucharabiehs.
The whole façade is covered at regular intervals with green and white zellij and with ten “fake fountains” identical to the fountains of the previous façades.
The eastern façade
The eastern scheme of the building of the Hassan II Mosque ends in a madrassa that is built in a semi-circular shape. Here, the artists-craftsmen have changed the style to show that this is an annex with a pedagogical aim.
Let’s, however, mention that its hemicycle is supported by little columns in black marble sheltering a porch whose base is coated with a beautiful yellow-orange tinted zellij. The ceilings are finely ornamented with stucco of mellow colors combining the beige and tints that represent circular designs.
The prayer hall
One the Sun-Bathed Shores of the Atlantic, the esplanade of the Hassan II Mosque can accommodate eighty thousand faithful. The prayer hall, located in the core if the building, can, however, host twenty-five thousand. This hall, triangular plan, has three naves perpendicular to the qibla wall. Its depth is greater than is width like the mosques of Kairouan and Cordoba like the Almohad shrines in Rabat (towards 1195) the Almohad-Merinid mosque of Taza(1292) and the Merinid mosque of Fez Jdid (towards 1276).
The orientation of this type of naves follows a layout called “basilical”. So was the layout of the Grand Mosque of Kairouan deemed as the pattern on which the mosques built in North Africa were conceived, with the exception however of the oldest mosques of Fez: the Qarawiyyine and the Andalous Mosque.
Hassan II Mosque’s center nave is larger (forty meters) and higher (thirty-eight and sixty-five meters) than the side aisles (twenty and ten meters large, twenty-seven meter high).
It is undulated by a succession of varied domes where are suspended glass chandeliers shipped from Murano and has a roof which, once open, change the part of the prayer hall in a magnificent sun-bathed courtyard.
This form and courtyard are inspired by a pattern of Kairouan. However, on account of its special location and of its dimensions it breaks off with the layout of the Kairouan Mosque.
On each side, two mezzanines reserved for women are suspended. They are built at over two meters from the level of the soil of the side aisles.
Besides the movables roof (three thousand and four hundred square meters), the prayer hall is lit by a series glass gates of the northern wall, a large triptych marble partition with openwork and a center window bordered by 2 smalle side windows on the wall of the facade. These panels draw, when seen from outside, geometrical openwork based on rectilinear interlaces. They are inscribed within multiple-lobed arches whose voussoir is historiated with a brilliant sculpted floral ornamentation.
The use of marble bars to decorate the gates and the use of fake voussoirs interchangeably sculpted or smoothen, makes one think of the Andalusian Omeyyad art (The Grand Mosque of Cordoba). The imposing dimensions of the pillars (thirteen meters high), the variety of their form (a square with engaged columns, cruciform hemming a series of pillars) and the multitude of domes widen the scope of the work.
The whole space is surfaced with polychromatic geometric shapes zellij, with etched plaster whose ornamentation is derived from flora, geometry, and epigraphy, with marble and finally with pained, carved, assembled and turned wood.
In this ornamentation, there is no surfeit. And the resort to simplicity, achieves, at the monumental scale, that special grace of a new archetype in the arts of Islam.
Contribution of the Moroccan handicraft to the edification of the Hassan II Mosque
After The Edification of the HASSAN II MOSQUE, Casablanca is from this time blessed, exactly like Marrakesh and Fez, the city of culture and art. Beyond the architecture and technique, the economic metropolis of Morocco owes this new status to the unmatched role played by handicraft in the ornamentation of the impressive surfaces of this beautiful monument.
The prayer hall, which reflects the external building, which is lit by the mellow gleams of its ornamental perforations, its glazed gates, and its movable roof, and which is the throbbing heart of Islamic rite, is rectangular.
Crossed from the east to the west by a large central nave and two side naves, it is punctuated by polyfoil archways surmounted with high walls, the whole structure is set on pillars of solid granite.
From the viewpoint that is of concern to us, this imposing structure articulates decorative sets were stucco, wood and zellij form symphony of forms and colors that are all as many rhythms and harmonies.
Let’s try to give an idea about this hall by describing its main features:
The art of stucco has never before achieved such a perfect balance between the solid and the void as it did in the prayer hall of the Hassan II Mosque.
It makes the most imposing decorative whole and dominates from the height of the pillar to the ceilings and domes: you find it again on the level of the base in zellij. It caps the claustra of zellij (shemmachat) as it ornaments the mihrab with its stalactites (muqarnas) and jags the tympanum of its arch. Let’s mention the most outstanding elements that constitute architectonic connectives whose order and symmetry remain a major concern:
-Without being capital columns, strictly speaking, the stalactite-shaped bells which ornament the top of the pillars are repeated at regular space all along the naves of the prayer hall. These bells show alveoli coated with small foiled archways supported by small columns around the pillars. The small alcoves they form superimpose geometrical and calligraphic decorations while the upper part is supported by festooned archways and is decorated with checkered geometrical designs. The voids of the stalactites are ornamented with calligraphic inscriptions where the name of Allah in Cufic letters is repeated. The stucco interplay in the voids particularly underlines the downstrokes and upstrokes of the letters which lengthen to form interlacings where the letter disappears so that the whole forms cartouches framing geometrical ornamentation.
The naves of the prayer hall are crossed by two kinds of arches: big poly foiled arches and smaller lambrequin arches supported by two closer pillars.
The foils are double and ornamented at the level of the consoles with an S-shaped design whose volutes are curled on a madder-colored background. The double foils leave room to intrados decorated with escutcheon shaped designs, the color of honey.
All these arcs form a raising of two archings: the first is a zigzagging lambrequin and the second which is higher is a semi-circular arch. This set which runs on the two sides of the central nave provides a privileged space where are opposed, without any clashes. plain surfaces and ornamented surfaces; there is a repetition of panels, rectangles and calligraphic circles with turquoise, white and honey as the predominant colors.
The top of the small wainscotted arches is decorated with lozenge-shaped geometrical designs while the spandrels of the big polyfoiled arches display ornamentation in circular boss imitating the dorsal of fish or small waves, a decoration that m’aallem Houceine Lamane says having used for the first time to suggest the sea universe. All the spandrels display in their middle a circle of inscriptions, in Naskhi calligraphy, of divine omnipotence. You find another decorative innovation on the surface of the internal walls where the lozenge-shaped designs suggest in their display a ribbed line called by the m’aallem “Eddliye lemchettet”, which literally means scattered ribs”.
Finally, at the level of this gigantic structure, epigraphic festoons reproduce Koranic verses, while on the square abacus of the small decorative columns you find again religious formula such as “ALLAHOU AKBAR or “BARAKAT MOHAMMAD forming beautiful geometrical interlacings.
Painted wood opposes the comforting warmth of its polychrome to the pastel tints of stucco as if it wanted to suggest their intensity. It covers spaces as large as the movable roof above the central nave. the mezzanines reserved to women as well as the domes and ceilings of the side naves, without forgetting the retractable panels of the royal maqsoura and the archway-shaped gates on the eastern wall on both sides of the mihrâb.
The cedar and beech wood used in the building had been treated against the various types of perishing and pinned onto the domes, for example, thanks to stainless iron shanks on a frame made out of the same material.
Here again, artists-craftsmen surpassed themselves and succeeded to integrate this kind of the ornamentation to unusual spaces while introducing new forms, new colors and new dsigns. Maallem Bellamine told us in this respect that he spent two years (between 1987 and 1989) over preliminary works before conceiving his work which includes a dome that he achieved for the first time and that he baptized “Hassaniya after the name of the Moroccan Sovereign who suggested its general layout. This dome runs over the side naves at irregular intervals in alternation with another dome called “Settiniya” because the stars drawn on its four spandrels (rkan) have sixty tips. This second dome combines for the first time geometric (tastir) and floral (tauriqg) designs. The square tambour of the “Hassaniya” is supported by a frieze of consoles (lizar bel oqban) and decorated with new designs such as the rayonnant rib symbolizing the sun and immediately below them the interlaced foils “kharsnat, that are a kind of alveoli forming a honeycomb.
The red tint dominating the whole is, given the specificity of its luster, deepened to garnet red, called by the m’aallem the Casablanca red”. The ornamentation of ceilings enables to make a distinction between the Fez and the Marrakesh styles.
The movable roof is painted with the same colors of predominantly red, carmine and garnet red. Besides the proximity of geometrical and floral designs, the ornamentation here is underlined by a big rectangular frieze where the names of divine qualities (asma Allah alhousna) are repeated in beautiful writing of the Maghreb.
The prayer galleries reserved to women which are raised on two side naves between the fourth and seventh pillars are coated with wood painted in green tints and carved with star-shaped designs It would be worth mentioning these long and narrow panels ornamented with friezes of blind archways with paneled arches whose designs repeat the interlacings that are so many frames at the center of which the name of God (Allah) is inscribed in Cufic writing where the letters lam are crossed in a perfect geometrism.
The retractable panels of the maqsoura and the gates of the eastern wall radiate a particular warmth thanks to the shield-shaped designs framing decorated double branches and curved stems. When seen from a far away distance, this pale wood neatly comes out from the red ocher of the mahogany wood giving thus to the eye an impression of gilding.
The minibar which is the preacher’s pulpit and which is made of mahogany and beech wood is assembled by registers (bet-terbi’at) forming a semi-circular entrance; its stairs are decorated with openwork and its other parts are ivory inlaid and decorated with star-shaped designs.
The Zellij. although it covers smaller spaces, has its own importance within the prayer hall. It is actually found in the form of high decorative semi-circular panels (shemmachat) around the four walls of the shrine. The eastern wall includes four high panels. The tw0 side ones are topped by big stucco-decorated arches.
The northern and southern walls bear six big panels each. Two of them are included in each of the two galleries reserved to women.
The western wall provides four semi-circular panels deployed on both sides of the “royal gate”. A “haati frieze of red zellij runs all along the base of the walls.
Now, if external façades radiate green and white tints, if the walls of the madrassa radiate yellow tints, the prayer hall, on its part, privileges the red and white.
According to m’aallem Moulay Hafid. two techniques had been used:
The technique called “ferdaoui” which uses isolated designs forming a star, lozenge, square-shaped geometric layouts. It is reserved for the big semi-circular panels (shemmachat). And the second technique called bulletin (with sticks). Its designs are ringed and it is used to decorate the friezes of the base.
Let’s mention the last innovation that the m’aallem said he used for the first time: long vertical voids that separate the gores of the mihrab alcove and where you find red, blue and green-tinted enameled terra-cotta. Beige-tinted fragments whose enamel has been scrapped (mqachchar) contrast with the enameled designs.
The semi-circular floor of the mihrab alcove is covered with green and white zellij forming a big star with twelve tips so ingeniously fringed with the frame spaces stemming from the eight-tipped star (mouthamman).
- RENAISSANCE OF TRADITIONAL ARTS
The Moroccan handicraft which covered the mosque’s unmatched minaret with so beautiful designs, as well as the whole internal and external spaces including the mihrâb which is oriented towards Makka and at the same time open onto the Atlantic Ocean, has achieved here, more than ever before, the renaissance of traditional arts. Here, ancient arts are brought up to the highest perfection.
The sculptures on wood, marble or plaster, the smart layout of the zellij, the engraving of copper or brass, the carving, and painting of timber bestow on this prestigious monument an unprecedented dimension which is the honor of the Islam of the 21st century.
The Moroccan handicraft which was born in a melting-pot wisely elaborated throughout ages, and which made a synthesis of the Libyco-Berber, Mediterranean, Eastern, African and Andalusian contributions, has generated, thanks to the Hassan II Mosque, a new dynamic, while deriving the essence of its aesthetic from Islamic art.
Indeed, modern Morocco, out of concern for balance, has not privileged the industrialization fashion to the detriment of these other cultural and socio-economic activities handicraft is part of. If geography locates this country in the farthest Muslim West, art and culture insert it in the happy medium of things as wished and ordered by Islam, the religion of the “golden medium.
To be sure of this, let’s listen to The King of Morocco warning us about the pitfall of over-industrialization: “We have achieved an industrial revolution, but we continue protecting handicraft, this school of humbleness and this other symbol of the originality of Morocco. The handicraft family works in silence and is characterized by its pure heritage, its uprightness and its attachment to its sacred values which are only equaled by the faith of the elderly”. In this respect, Morocco’s cultural and artistic heritage is dependent upon any action requiring the intervention of learned artisans whose know-how and skill are a significant factor and valuable element in this dialogue between cultures which is characterizing the present era. This know-how, which is constantly renewed without however deviating from the gains of tradition makes of the handicraft a national value opens to all possibilities of innovation and creativity required by the end of the current century. Handicraft, which is one of the fundamental aspects of the Arab-Islamic culture of this country had it on itself to be open to the fertile contributions of the outside world while marking them with its indelible stamp. This tolerance that is one of the characteristics of secure and free peoples asserted its perennial character. It was also thanks to its spirit of independence and freedom, of research, innovation, and audacity in creation that Moroccan handicraft was initiated to the rank of Aesthetic, and at the same time launched its promoters and foremen to the status of artists and creators.
We can say that these new masters (m’aallmin, sing. m’aallem) have re-interpreted while mastering it, the whole set of ornamentation elements bequeathed by the art of the Muslim West and this in a bid to revive them while preserving their secular splendor. Thus the geometric, the floral and the epigraphic which have been used in unusual spaces, where one would have been inclined to think they would lose all their essence, have on the contrary generated such a dynamism and such a sense of preadaptation that today in Morocco, we can rightfully speak of a genuine renaissance of traditional arts.
A renaissance similar, while taking everything into consideration, to that of the Christian art which re-created its images and icons, with the only difference that here, as it is excluded to reproduce human figures, Islamic spirituality enabled a larger overture of minds to aesthetic expressions whose abstraction brings up this art to the highest degree of perfection.
THE STAMPS OF THE FOUNDER
After this short descriptive survey of the ornamentation of the main parts of this religious complex, namely the minaret, the external façades, and the prayer hall, we would like in this last chapter to highlight, while referring to the appreciations made by m’aallmin, the active contribution of the Sovereign of Morocco to the edification of the Hassan II Mosque of Casablanca.
This contribution materialized in a large number of interventions which enabled to bring here, and there changes, improvements, and to give to the whole work further style and refinement.
His perspicacious opinions, His directives and the subtlety of His intuition in the choice of colors inclined towards pastel colors and warm or strong tints.
His preference for such material has often been the driving force that animated the artists-craftsmen.
His Majesty the King wanted thus that the external aspect is dominated by the white and the green, the colors of Islam and symbols of tolerance and peace, marking, therefore, the whole building with an almost unmatched subtle harmony.
He, on the other hand, recommended that pieces of green and white zellij be inserted to make the golden tiles on the façades contrast with the beige tint of the sculpted marble coating the walls.
In order to underscore the high graceful shape of the minaret which is soaring to the sky. His Majesty the King asked that zellij friezes be introduced on the side string courses. For the prayer hall, the Sovereign opted for the honey tint around which all the components were to be used in harmony. At the level of the floor, the King preferred that the fountains, on both sides of the central nave, be in marble with the insertion of zellij tiles. On the external façades, He opted for a base in green and white zellij. In the madrassa, the green, yellow and Haiti orange contrast with the blue and are surmounted with a plaster frieze where Koranic verses are inscribed.
His Majesty the King has also discarded, among others, to coat the pillars of the prayer hall with zellj and opted instead for a monolithic coating in pink granite. He, on the other hand, suggested that the small columns be interposed between the pillars, the capital columns and the springing of arches to reduce the brutal break between these elements whose upper part is highlighted by a light built-in under the pillars network.
The m’aallmin were so convincing as to the validity of the various interventions of the Sovereign during the construction works and of the significant improvements introduced on this work of art, of refinement and of good taste that we could not help remember “invitation at Voyage” by Charles Baudelaire: “There, all is order and beauty…
The very location of the Hassan lI Mosque was decided by the Sovereign who announced the news to the Moroccan people in his solemn speech of 1986 on the occasion of Youth Day:
“I want a great and beautiful achievement that Casablanca can be proud of till the end of times. I want that a magnificent house of God is edified on the shore of the sea, a mosque whose high minaret shall indicate the path of salvation, i.e., the path leading to Allah, to all the ships coming from the West.
Explaining the reasons for this choice, the Sovereign said:
“I wanted to construct this mosque on water, for the Throne of God was on the water, and I wanted the faithful who will come to pray, to meditate, to praise the Almighty, to be able, while being on the farmland, to contemplate God’s sky and ocean.
When my late father, His Majesty Mohammed V, may God’s mercy be upon him, passed away, I decided to construct his Mausoleum in the city of Casablanca. However, a few weeks later, I thought that His tomb would be far from Me and my kin. Several heads of state who would like to pray for the rest of his soul would equally be compelled to go to Casablanca. I was, therefore, owing compensation to the inhabitants of Casablanca and I thought of this compensation the very day I decided to edify the Mohammed V Mausoleum in Rabat. I thought about this grand mosque whose construction is currently underway on the shore of the sea that will make of Casablanca a unique in its kind with this unique mosque in its kind. I wanted to construct this mosque on water”.
On water and in the light of God which is that of heavens and of earth, as proclaimed by the thirty-fifth verse of the XXIV chapter of the Koran: “God is the light of heavens and earth. Its light is like an alcove where a lamp is burning The lamp is in crystal and the crystal looks like a star of pearl, it is fed by a benediction tree, an olive tree that is neither from the East nor from the West, its oil illuminates almost everything without
The same light seems to give all their brilliance to the frescos of the zellj of the Hassan II
Mosque and to the subtle sculptures of the plaster. Designs and colors were chosen to be in perfect harmony with the rays that filtrate from the glazed doors, the starred openwork, and the movable roof.
The mosque provides a variety of arrangements designed to shed on the praying hall a soft luminosity with zones of shade and light according to the form of things.
The movable roof system and its opening up to the sky, the meticulous study of the location of the praying hall gates and their accurate proportioning enable to change the shades from pure bright light to quiet, shadowy light.
It is this very bright gt it gave its name to the city of Casablanca, and that will today lead the sons of Casablanca towards the terrestrial ocean to extend their hands towards the heavenly sea and to prostrate before the Divine Majesty.
Light and water. Light reflecting on water, turning iridescent in basins, fluttering in the marble bowls, whispering in the fountains of zellij, “spray blooming in thousand flowers.
Water to quench thirst; water, an essential element of the rite that the Muslim performs to present himself purified before the Almighty.
In this regard, the ablutions room located in the basement with its many basins in the Torm of lotus, surrounded by twinned-columns porticos, its galleries, and pillars decorated with green, blue and yellow zellij is a genuine hymn to water and light. Because daylight inundates it as soon as the roof of the praying hall is removed on the same spot where another water in the form of a “menchia runs.
Such architectural and artistic feats confirm and justify the royal options which marked the holy space with their philosophical, ethical, and aesthetical sense.
Before so much beauty and emotion, one can only recall the Koran verses which denounce the false monastic asceticism and order to enjoy God’s gifts and deserve them by going to the mosques in our best costumes:
“O sons of Adam ! wear your costumes in all praying styles (.)
“Say who prohibited finery that God offered believers and other good things of His gifts? Say they belong to the believers on earth; they are bestowed purified on doomsday.
Finally, impatient and solemn comes the hour of consecration. An apotheosis, to the image of this country’s fervor, enigmatic and loaded with symbols, that have but one meaning: the Oneness of God.
That evening, Casablanca, the westernmost point on the Atlantic Ocean offers to the world the monumental expression of an authentic Morocco, deeply anchored in its past and resolutely looking towards the future: The Hassan II Mosque. One of the greatest architectural realizations of the century.
A great civilizational work that His Majesty King Hassan II conceived, initiated and achieved to perpetuate Drive Blessings on the Auspicious Empire.
Today is a day of joy. Moroccans, together with the rest of the world is going to discover this monumental religious creation, built on the crest of the waves to illustrate the Koranic verse:
“And the throne of God was on the water”
They are going to appreciate, through the press and audio-visual media, represented by about one thousand newsmen come from various horizons, the aesthetic and spiritual dimension of the mosque as well as its prosaic dimension which is made to accommodate, in the prayer hall and on the Esplanade, over one hundred thousand faithful.
Today is Monday. We are on the eve a day, unlike all others. The very choice of this date is symbolic: it is the 11th day of Rabia’Thani of the year 1414 in the Muslim calendar, celebrating the birth of Sidna Mohammad, Gods messenger, and Prophets Seal.
No more sumptuous framework could be chosen to celebrate the glorification and adoration of the Eternal in this blessed night. No other day could have been more meaningful to inaugurate a work dedicated to the Almighty.
1414… Should we see in these figures a sacred celestial sign that God, the Creator of the “Seven Heaven and Seven Earths”, wanted this, simple and divisible, so that the memory of time and generation to come should remember them forever?
“The hour of the golden medium”, leading to the meditation and contemplation, has rung. Light and serenity flood and magnify the sublime moment. The magic of a universe dedicated to the glory of the Creator, out of the faith, out of the farsightedness and out of the will of the Sovereign who has marked the present day and has imposed himself to History… A universe is brilliant with splendor, a magisterial work, seal of fervor that celebrates the communion of the visible and invisible.
Time is at its ” Golden Medium”
Time is exhaling the happiness of balance, the balanced of the pink-tinkled twilight reflected on the ocean waves, while on the other side, the paleness of the moon, immobilized as if suspended, interweaves its glint with the shimmering reflection of the minaret. Variegations on the waves and on the Esplanade…
In the twilight of the nearing night, surrounding floodlights enhance the silhouette of the mosque and sweep over a crowd of thousands of faithful dressed in immaculate white jellaba. A compact, silent, meditative, fervent, mystical crowd… Then, the colors that transcend this purity of tints appear: the green of the chromes that harmoniously fits in the sumpuous bluish summer night, and that clearly outlines the whiteness of the site. It also unveils, by contrast, in the background, the city of Casablanca, Dar el Beida, “the White House”. Further away, comes to light the whiteness of the foam over the waves smoothly breaking against the sea-wall: waves with matchless glints that embrace and magnify this Jewell. And the moon, the pale moon… the moon that wraps within its tender glow the whiteness of the human waves constantly filling the esplanade before being engulfed in this islad of faith.
This night of purity sublimates the soul of Casablanca, the high tempered city which has always given privilege to initiative and enterprise.
From that night on, Casablanca is no longer the business capital of Morocco. It now is a cross-road. for cultures, arts, knowledge and thought. It is also the House of God. A city within he city with the minaret as an emblem. It is the image of the eternal tolerant Islam, open into innovation and into ancestral civilizations, into the positive aspects of technology and into the genius of man, creature of God.
On that day of consecration, the whole world is looking towards the Hassan II Mosque And suddenly. attention is called by clamors that tear the silence of the night. The clamors rise while movements on the esplanade announce events to occur. The clamors turn into acclamations and the movement transmutes into a minute protocol. Far off, the crowd is vibrating and exulting. The royal cortege arrives and time suspends its beat. Casablanca focuses on the very spot where the Sovereign is to unveil the commemorating plate. This is the solemn instant that all the Moroccans. the Muslims and the whole world have been looking forward to Since the Sovereign announced the edification of this shrine.
His Majesty King Hassan I, surrounded by His Royal Highness the Crown Prince Sidi Mohammed and His Royal Highness Prince Moulay Rachid, as well as by their Highnesses Prince Moulay Hicham and Prince Moulay Ismail, passes in review, in front of the mosque’s main gate, a detachment of the Royal Guard rendering honor. and salutes the flag at the beat of the national anthem.
The muezzin calls on the faithful for the Ellchaa prayer as the Sovereign enters the large nave where his eminent guests have already settled down: President Haj Omar Bongo of Gabon, President Alpha Omar Konare of Mali and President Lansana Conte of Guinea as well as other visiting dignitaries and delegations from friendly and brotherly countries.
Members of the international press, delegates of the different communities of revealed religions and members of the diplomatic corps who were seated in the Mezzanines spontaneously rise to follow with emotion His Majesty the King and His cortege. Coming through the monumental royal gate, the cortege crosses the axial nave amid thousands of citizens representing the different regions of the Kingdom. Here are the Ulemas, the chairmen of elected bodies. the fqihs, the delegates of the population and of the subscribers as well as the pupils from Koranic schools, all dressed in white clothes, standing full of respect and reverence oneach side of the royal cortege. Floating on the ocean breeze, exhaling from the thuribles. perfumed scents give off throughout the large hall and up to the mezzanines where the distinguished guests, as well as the delegates from women’s associations, are settled down.
King Hassan II and his guests then line up to pray, together with the 25 000 Moroccans attending the ceremony that was, of course, broadcast live on radio and TV.
The intensity of silence. The intensity of meditation.
Once the prayer is over and whilst waiting for the Mouloudia, the journalists whisper their impressions. Their comments are made in a dozen different languages: Arabic, French, English. Spanish, Russian. German. Chinese, Japanese, Turkish. Swahili, Persian, Bahasa. Serbo-Croatian… Their language points out their nationality. Most of them are from the Muslim world, but all of them are interested in Islam.
Later on, their reports on the ceremony will prove rigorous and accurate but they will all be tinged with a sense of admiration for Morroco, for the great work and for its founder, His Majesty King Hassan II.
But where is the child who was made famous by the TV cameras when the foundation stone of the Mosque was laid? He then answered His Majesty’s questions formulated in the m’sids language and terminology. He must be there among 1800 most deserving pupils from Koranic Schools who, as tradition goes, lett their locates in a corner of the prayer hall -on these tablets are transcripted the Koran verses that will be erased once learned by heart-
Seven years went by, is he not at present in this batch of young fqihs who succeeded long ago in the selka? And there again you sense this continuity in tradition and knowledge that makes you meditate on celestial greatness.
The Sovereign is now presiding at the Mouloudia, a panegyric of the Prophet. A moment of fervor. The incantatory songs reverberate all around the Esplanade, harmoniously fanning out, and amplified by the waves, they are taken towards Makka whose orientation is indicated within a thirty kilometer range by the laser ray shining from the jamour of the highest minaret ever erected!
The ceremony continues with the reading of a text devoted to the Hassan II Mosque. The the text highlights the specificity of the location of the monument where the faithful can, whilepraying on firm land, contemplate the sky and the ocean. It also underlines its spiritual, cultural, and educational dimensions while stressing the architectural art and the know-how of Moroccan artists-craftsmen.
Then, three winners of a poetry competition organized to mark the occasion read their poems, inspired by this historical event, before the Sovereign
A special homage is paid, within this sacred place, to the Arab poetess Al-Khansaa, whose poems the Prophet Mohammad liked to hear her reading, as the Sovereign asks a woman winner of the fourth award to read her own poem. What a privilege! What an emotion! The ceremony closes on this reading.
And the world discovers at a time when daily life is full of tragedies, wars and violence, that the achievement of this sanctuary brings a note of optimism and pours balm onto the wounded heart taking the human soul up towards the heights ol spirit. And the world listen to its words of wisdom: “let’s lighten a candle instead of shouting against the darkness of night. Bring to light The large contingent of journalists attending the ceremony have conveyed this message to their public and so have all over the world famous writers, chroniclers, and editorialists. Whether from America or Asia, from Europe or Africa the guests are unanimous in their appraisal of the Builder, the Innovator, His Majesty King Hassan II, as “the advocate of the religion of tolerance enjoying a true popular veneration” and who has been “a comfort to all those seeking tolerance, fraternity, and unity in the human race”.
The international media does not hesitate to proclaim the Hassan II Mosque as “the eighth the wonder of the world. “the achievement of the century, one of the greatest monuments of all times.
Observers are also unanimous in saying that this “high tech” mosque is “the result of the col laboration between the latest technology and the genius of Moroccan master craftsmen”. They also say that ‘this airy and impressive building whose pure silhouette is reflected on the sea, is faithful to the spirit of Moroccan architecture. The building. they say, is meant to “recall the history of Islam, its peaceful achievements and its contribution to universal civilization”.
This monument is “at this turn of the century, the best challenge… to all forms of obstacle rantism and extremism”, will make the mosque recover its role as an educational institution because the visionary King “went beyond the coming millenary, persuaded as he is that any human work is but velleity and piece of self-conceit unless it is dedicated to the praise of God”.
Nations often forget that “they will not recover a peaceful balance unless they devote, at least a part of their tremendous technological powers to non-lucrative works, symbolic works where every member of the community finds a foster job together with a raison-d’être” and in this respect, “the Casablanca minaret is thrusting its laser ray towards the right direction
Victor Hugo, a visionary poet of the past century enjoyed dreaming: “Who will suddenly loom up, who will create there, in some Moorish city, splendid, unheard of, as a sparkling rocker with its golden arrow tearing the fog?
Outside, the moon. Motionless. As if suspended to the shimmering reflections of the minaret… The moon, eternal answer to the questions of man, watching over forever.
The Moroccan handicraft which made the external refinery of the Hassan II Mosque of Casablanca has ornamented it from within with its most beautiful jewels to make of it a work of art with all the brilliance of its diamond and all the purity of its substance. The direct ancestors of these arts are the Kairouanian and Andalusian mosques of the IXth century and the Almoravid and Almohad mosques of the XIth and XIIth centuries.
Some materials introduced in Andalusia and Ifriqiyd were borrowed from Mesopotamian, Byzantine, Sassanid or Hellenistic arts. The arts of sculpted wood and plaster which had since the IXth century a brilliant course of life in the Maghreb were probably borrowed from Mesopotamia, while the mosaic which yielded the famous zellij is undoubtedly a legacy of Antic Greece. The same goes for the architectural elements such as the horseshoe arch that was used during the first Omeyyad period in Andalusia and Aghlabide Tunisia, or the other antic decorations and shapes that were introduced to our region through Egypt. Let’s mention, among other things, the Cufic calligraphy, this angular and hieratic writing which owes its elements to the flora and which widely uses geometric shapes. In this case, the presence of Koranic verses in the buildings asserts the primarily Islamic character of this form of ornamentation.
The most classical floral decorations, even if foreign and remote contributions mark them, have been assimilated, brewed, melted and re-created through ages to become a genuine Moroccan herbarium. Artisans, from generation to generation, have enriched continuously and renewed this collection of floral ornamentations that they deploy before the eyes of the faithful. Specifically, Islamic art was born on account of the materials chosen (wood, plaster, marble, zellij, copper) and of the decoration sets adopted (the geometric, the floral, the epigraphic) and that became classical. In Morocco, this Islamic art culminated in the grand synthesis embodied in the Hassan II Mosque and its minaret which is erected like a gigantic marble finger lightening what was once called the Sea of Darkness, testifying before its waves the faith in divine oneness, a witness of the truth of these Koranic verses:
The cleverness and skill of Merinid, Saadian, and Alaouite artists in the use of these shapes and materials are worth mentioning. Their dynastic palettes were so enriched through generations that they came to use all the colors from the Almohad white to the black, going through all the other chromatic shades.
It is also worthwhile to recall that the Saadians used to import their Carrara marble from Italy, where it was figured in Pisa before being sent to Morocco and bartered for sugar. This marble of immaculate whiteness was used to ornament the two sides of the nook of the mihrab of the Hassan II Mosque.
In his travel notes dated July 1581, Montaigne states that “the mountains neighboring Pisa produce exquisite marbles for which this city has a great number of famous workers. At that time, they were working for the King of Fez in Barbary who was intending to build a theater with fifty marble columns”.
Montaigne would be amazed today to learn that the Moroccan craftsmen have used, to cover the floor of the naves and the external façades, the columns supporting the peristyle, the galleries, the archways, to decorate the gates and the minaret of the Hassan Il Mosque, a local marble extracted in the quarries of the south of the country and sculpted by the “Grandes Marbreries d’Agadir”.
To end this short survey of the history of Islamic art in Moroccan land, let’s say that with the advent of the Alaouite dynasty, this precious floral collection has been entertained, restored, synthesize, enriched and oriented towards new paths. We will only mention as an instance the sculpted plaster and assembled carved and painted wood. After they had been pushed into the background, they regained their due place in several palaces and monuments and especially in the Mohammed V Mausoleum of Rabat and The Hassan II Mosque of Casablanca which is the most eloquent paradigms.
Mahkama Pasha of Casablanca
Architect: Auguste Cadet
The court was built in 1929 by Auguste Cadet, for Muslims, after he had finished building the Habous district. The Mahkama building, located in Quartier des Habous in Rue Ahmed El Figuigui is open for visitors, is an excellent city palace which took from 1941to 1952, of over a decade to be completed.
It’s very much unique. Constructed on a slope, it looks like it towers over the Habous neighborhood. A person can get access to it by means of very large gate portals. It is articulated around a large courtyard and two patios.
Inside, the traditional arts of ornamentation have been taken over: carved cedar ceilings, stuccoed arches, Zeliges frescoes, water features, Andalusian style garden, Sophisticated architecture, Hispano style -Mauresque, that we will take the time to contemplate in detail.
Architect: BOUSQUET, Pierre
Many consider Marché Central as Casablanca’s center, the open-air marketplace in the center of the Art Deco quarter. In this place, antique vendors crowd with food shops.
In 1914, it was decided to move the municipal market then located on the former Place de France (United Nations Square). The new location is the one occupied for two months by the French-Moroccan Exhibition of 1915 wanted by Marshal Lyautey to promote the country’s economic potential.
Casablanca’s main market and get a taste of local culture. The low and bare building takes the traditional style of the markets of southern Morocco. On a quadrilateral with a continuous front, it is punctuated with shops under the arcades along Boulevard Mohammed V.
Marche Central is a charming market with vibrant colored stalls that sell local Moroccan crafts along with a myriad of fresh produce, fish, and shellfish caught daily on both the Atlantic and Mediterranean coasts of Morocco along with other daily items. Inside, the central covered body is surmounted by a large rotunda which houses the fish merchants. The inner street that surrounds it is lined with shops. Freshness and ventilation are provided by traditional Zellijs fountains and narrow, closed openings of cement Moucharabieh.
Marche Central has an exotic spice market and is a popular place where Casablancans dine locally outdoors. Eight accesses allow you to cross it in all directions. The main entrance has been recently highlighted by carved framing and green and yellow Zellijs panels.
Notre Dame de Lourdes
Architect: Achille Dangleterre
Highlighting a high roof, white facade, a lengthened form, and a rare shaped frontage, Casablanca’s Notre Dame de Lourdes was built in 1954 by Achille Dangleterre and engineer Gaston Zimmer and is the second church of Casablanca. It is a great example of European modern structure, and the colorful stained glass is an outstanding contrast to the light walls.
The massive building of Notre Dame de Lourdes Catholic Church in Casablanca, Morocco, holds an imposing white concrete facade and a basic white cross is the mere indication of its purpose. The primary attraction for those visiting is the stunning stained glass windows, the work of a famous French artist, Gabriel Loire. They are cut on a red and blue colored background, similar to a classic Moroccan carpet, and represent various images of the Virgin Mary.
The real spectacular stained glass windows of the cathedral are what take the attention of everyone. The open, airy interior is lightening up by the vibrant beams of light that filter through these stained glass windows which fills up both side walls – giving a window surface area of over 800 sq.m (8600 sq. ft.)
Port of Casablanca
Standing for more than a hundred years, the port of Casablanca located 80 km southwest of Rabat is an infrastructure that has always played an important role in foreign trade and contributed to the development of the White City.
Casablanca’s port developed and in 1916, engineer Perret built the docks. By the time the Lafarge company cement work started producing in the vicinity known as Roches Noires, the poor working-class quarter named Carrières Centrales developed along with it.
Brief history of Port of Casablanca:
- The Port of Anfa carried exportation of wool to Genoa or wheat to Portugal 1572
- Sultan Sidi Mohammed Ben Abdellah in 1785 introduced a new law and agreed to export cereals to a Spanish company “Compana de los cincos Majores de Madrid”.
- Because of some state of affairs that Morocco and the region of Dar El Beida (Casablanca in Arabic) has undertaken in 1805, Sultan Moulay Slimane resolved to close ports of the country including the Port of Casablanca, and so it became dormant for years.
- Sultan Moulay Abderahmane in 1830 opened back the country’s ports to pave way for commercial trades. The second half of the 19th century demonstrated Dar El Beida’s massive city development and its port.
- The maritime line opened between Dar El Beida and Marseille by Compagnie Paquet in 1862
- In 1873, Sultan Moulay El Hassan ordered the port’s renovation as traffic increases over Tangier’s port, turning into Morocco’s first commercial port.
- New constructions of smaller port were carried out in 1904 for ships waiting 1000 or 1200 meters away from the coast.
- “Compagnie Marocaine”, “Schneider” and The Hersent Brothers on March 25, 1913 were chosen for the construction of the Port of Casablanca.
- Sultan officially approved the port’s construction on April 2,1913
- All through his visit of Casablanca on October 16, 1913, Sultan Moulay Youssef, closely followed the ports construction phase
- After eight years, at the middle of the port construction, discovery of phosphate reserves in Khouribga in 1921 affected the building works that is in stand by.
- One year following official inauguration, the port took a significant step in its history by the construction of a jetty in 1924. This jetty is named “Jetty of Phosphate”.
- Ships have easy entry and anchoring after the end of the commercial mole in 1932.
- Mole Tarik started its operation in 1950.
- The Port of Casablanca enters in the container’s era in 1972. The container traffic easily reached 60,000 at the start of the 1980s.
- The East Container’s Terminal started operating in 1996 as it is considered as the real and first container by its features.
- King Mohammed VI inaugurated the extension of the East Container’s Terminal on May 14, 2004.
Royal Palace of Casablanca
The Royal Palace of Casablanca serves as the King’s official city residence. A grand complex, visitors can, unfortunately, only admire the outer gate and walls. The ornate gate gives you a glimpse of the grandeur that lies beyond. Colorful, opulent and displaying fine details, it’s still worth stopping to see the entrance to the palace even though you can’t go inside.
Architect: Adrien Laforgue
Casablanca’s primary postal office situated on Place Mohammed V, the Grande Poste was built by Architect Adrien Laforgue in 1918 during the French colonial period.
The entrance’s colorful tile work welcomes visitors to the still functioning neo-Moorish central post office, inspired by the central post office in Algiers. The medallions on the building’s exterior serve as a reminder of Casablanca’s essence in advancements of airmail. Whereas the outside is impressive, check out its interiors and you can see the original Art Deco design.
Wilaya clock tower
Architect: Marius Boyer
Still another stylish structure located at the edge of Place Mohammed V designed by Marius Boyer and was finished in 1927. The beautiful Wilaya is a government headquarters, built between 1927 and 1936. Formerly Hotel de Ville or City Hall, Wilaya’s most imposing element is the original Art Deco clock tower.
Walk-in and the architecture takes an Arab-Andalusian vibe wherein, from under the arches, local admin officials’ offices oversee a fountain and central patio. Adding also a streamlined interior, massive stair, exterior touch of Venetian style and a modern clock tower, and you have a structure that is a testament to Casablanca’s inventive architectural heritage.
Wilaya is set surrounding 3 garden courts. Paintings by Majorelle (1859-1926) displayed in its marble staircases. Staterooms on its grand upper floor cover the mayor’s office (at the time) and the Hall of Honor, somewhere the mayor conducts civil marriages.
The Sacre-Coeur Cathedral (Casablanca Cathedral)
former Catholic Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus
Architect: Paul Tournon
Built-in 1930 is an architectural masterpiece designed by French architect Paul Tournon, the Sacre-Coeur Cathedral located in Blvd Rachidi is Neo-Gothic in style with Moroccan Muslim and Art Deco influences. The two towers flanking west front is similar to square minarets, and the tiny windows that pierce the cathedral’s upper portion would be at home in any mosque. The outer buttresses alongside the roof have sharp right angles in place of the usual curves.
It’s among Casablanca’s architectural masterpieces. The cathedral was an important landmark in Casablanca during French Catholic rule. After the independence of Morocco in 1956, the Cathedral ceased its religious function and was abandoned. It has since been used as a school, a cultural center and now it hosts exhibitions and fairs.
Palais de Justice
Architect: Joseph Marrast
The nearby Palais de Justice (Court House/ Tribunal de Premiere Instance), built by Joseph Marrast, was completed in 1925, has an enormous facade on the square, with a Moroccan flag on top and grand central portal that leads to two columned galleries on the main ground.
Its huge main entrance, with its stucco and tile detailing, was inspired by the Persian iwan, a vaulted hall that opens into the central court of the medersa (school) of a mosque. Palais de Justice is surrounded by palm trees and elaborate style courtyards.
Architect: Marius Boyer
Located at 22 Rue Abdel Krim Diouri, Hotel Volubilis is one of the beautiful examples of Casablanca’s Art Deco legacy with its recessed balcony, burnished-gold detailing and art nouveau signage. The modest-sized Hotel Volubilis is among Marius Boyer’s first projects when he arrived in Morocco a year earlier.
It is contemporary with Edmond Gourdain’s neighboring hotel “Transatlantique.” It recognizes the writing of Mr. Boyer in the advances framing the arch of the semicircular loggia with four bays on two floors. Above, on the third floor, a pergola of wood granted to green tile roofs, sketches an image of traditional architecture, while the whole decoration of the facade is similar to the Art Nouveau.
The name of the hotel in relief is inscribed in the central arch on a background of the mosaic of blue sandstone, and a carved stone frieze underlines the windows on both sides of the pergola.
The hotel “renovated” four years ago was raised two floors, and decor of fake stones cover the ground floor.
In 1922, when several large hotels were built in the center, Marius Boyer built the Atlas Hotel, Khouribga Boulevard, with 180 rooms, of neoclassical architecture, transformed into apartments.
Architect: Hippolyte-Joseph Delaporte
In the city center, not far from the medina, the famous Excelsior is an old building that has become one of the most popular cafés by the “bobos” of Casablanca, a very mixed city of more than five million inhabitants, hardly recognizable for the nostalgic of Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman.
It was the finest hotel in Casablanca when it opened in 1916 and was the first of the milestones built outside the Casablanca Medina.
The architecture of the Excelsior is sober but subtle: the facade of this café, built by the French architect Hippolyte-Joseph Delaporte in 1916 with the company Coignet, by order of the Grand Vizier Haj Omar Tazi, among a series of buildings currently representing the chronology of the building Casablanca.
The hotel is painted with lime and decorated with green Andalusian zelliges dating back almost a century, with its white marble steps and lobby whose wood-lined ceiling is reflected in a mosaic floor. With its facade that evokes the old buildings of Algeria and Tunisia, its brewery has made him the place of choice merchants and merchants who arrived in the city in the early twentieth century, looking for a business. The reinforced concrete building is covered with semicircular arches (inner curve of a vault), lines of green tiles and azulejos tiles, in addition to concrete guardrails with arched windows, adorned with eight-pointed stars.
The Excelsior was built in front of the main portal of the medina of Casablanca, an old city where “several religions and nationalities” coexisted.
Today, the Excelsior hotel is still one of the favorite destinations of foreigners calling in the megalopolis and despite an early abandonment at the entrance, the place is still cherished by its regulars of yesteryear.
El Glaoui building
Designed by Marius Boyer in 1922, the Glaoui building is located in Rue El-Amraoui Brahim on Mohammed V boulevard
San Buenaventura Church of Casablanca
From the late eighteenth century until 1907, the largest foreign community in Casablanca consists of Spaniards. It is the sector of port activity that was favored by these enterprising Spanish, who undertook the repair of boats, the handling and the export of cereals through various companies such as Compania Los Cinco Gremios Mayores de Madrid, Casa Espanola de Dar Beyda (Cadiz), etc.
Aware of the importance of this community and the dynamic role it played in the local economy, Sultan Moulay Hassan 1 st decided to graciously grant the King of Spain the land of the rue de Tangier, in the old medina: it is there that, in 1891, will be raised the church, San Buenaventura of the Franciscans.
With the Ettedgui Synagogue and the Ould el Hamra Mosque, the San Buenaventura Church is the third pillar of what is known as the “monotheistic triangle”: note that this building is the only Christian church we have identified in the old medina of Casablanca (intra muros).
Quaint church with a tiled rooftop, an airy domed sanctuary & arabesque stained-glass windows.
Al Qods Mosque
Architect: Eugène Lendrat
In the neighborhood of Roches Noires in Casablanca and near the garden Al-Qods stands not the only Gothic Mosque in the world. At first glance, the construction hardly looks like a mosque, its Gothic architecture, its Latin cross plan, its tower surmounted by a stone spire and surrounded by four pinnacles make believe that it is a church, besides it was until the early 1980s, before being transformed into a place of worship for Muslims, today it is called the Al-Quds Mosque.
This Gothic church was built in the late 1920s by Eugène Lendrat, in memory of his mother named Marguerite. It is a replica of the Church Saint-Martin de Pau, built-in 1868 by the architect Boeswillwald.
In the early 1920s and with the aim of making it the economic capital of Morocco, the city of Casablanca saw the beginning of its development and its transformation into an industrial city. At that time, a large European community came to settle in the district of Roches Noires, the old district industrial Casablanca.
The increase in the Christian population of the neighborhood created the need for a place of worship, so that Eugene Lendrat, the main developer of the Roches Noires district at the time, decided to build a church at his own time, fresh and on one of his lands. Lendrat took as a model for his project the church of Saint-Martin de Pau, his hometown. St. Margaret’s Church was inaugurated in December 1929 in memory of the mother of its founder.
Indeed, Lendrat hails from this city. The plan is a Latin cross, with a bell tower at the entrance to the nave, on the Westside. The Tower, on three levels, is topped by a stone arrow whose base is surrounded by four octagonal spires and four gargoyles at dog head (now mutilated). On three sides of the Tower, at the top of the first floor, was a clock. The porch arch broken gives access to the main entrance: the Portal including the Archway are extended by small columns with acanthus leaves tent, reveals, in the tympanum, a representation of what was to be a Christ the King.
After the death of Eugène Lendrat in 1931, a problem of transfer of ownership of the church is needed and remains unresolved for several decades. In the early 1970s and following the departure of a large part of the European population who lived in Casablanca, the Sainte Marguerite church was emptied and coveted to serve other purposes. In 1981, the church was finally ceded to Ain-Sebaa commune, which turned it into the Al-Quds mosque.
The transformation of the Sainte Marguerite church into a mosque has left many questions, the study of its history allowed to answer some without revealing everything. At present, the appearance of the monument has changed slightly, its vocation also, this did not prevent him from remaining a witness of the protectorate period in Morocco.
Carmel Saint Joseph School
Carmel Saint Joseph School, founded for the French in 1937 by the Carmelite Sisters, is located in a residential area called “l’oasis” surrounded by palmiers and green spaces.
It is located in one of the oldest districts of Casablanca: the Oasis which is the extension of Maarif extension, located between Hay Hassani and Maarif. It holds its name thanks to the presence of beautiful palm trees that give it all the charm of a very quiet residential area.
Operation: At the time, the school had a primary cycle and a second cycle with a boarding school which was closed as well as the secondary school before the departure of the Carmelite nuns.
In 1979, the sisters of the Holy Hearts took over. At the handover, the school had 750 mixed students, almost all of them are Moroccan.
St. John’s Church
St. John’s was the first Protestant church established in Casablanca. It was built in 1906. It is the oldest church building in use in Casablanca and one of the historical buildings in the city. It is built on land owned by the British Crown.
Throughout the Second World War, many people from the American Service personnel based in Casablanca attends to St. John. Maj. Gen. George Patton, who regularly attends at St. John’s, gave the pulpit in honor of the people who passed away in this area during WWII. When General Patton died, his family gave the carved frontage for the communion table St. John’s. A lot of devotees turn up to see these historical items.
St. John’s Anglican Church is a thriving English-speaking church in the heart of downtown Casablanca. Built-in 1906, it is the oldest operating church building in Casablanca and one of the few official places of Christian worship in the city. Although regular attendees hail from Europe, Asia, and the Americas, a third of the congregation now comes from sub-Saharan Africa. Services are conducted in English, but between services, the church grounds are filled with conversation in a wide variety of tongues.
Russian Orthodox Church
The Russian Orthodox Church of the Dormition also called The Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin is located at Eglise Russe, 13 rue de Blida in Casablanca. Built by the first wave of Russian immigrants and their families in 1958 was fighting the demolition of a church in economical capital of Morocco – Casablanca. It is one of the only two Russian Orthodox churches in Morocco
Temple Beth El Synagogue
Address: 67, Rue Jaber ben Hayane.
Visit Temple Beth-El, the Jewish Synagogue in Casablanca. Beth-El is considered the centerpiece of a once vibrant Jewish community. Its stained glass windows and other artistic elements are what attracts tourists to this synagogue.
Beth El or “Beit El”, also called the Algerian Temple, is also the venue where the Jewish community celebrates their religious events.
With its stained-glass windows, giant chandeliers and its unique architecture, made of white and gilded plaster, the synagogue is among the city’s best tourist attractions. The temple was completely refurbished in 1997.
The entrance of the famous restaurant Cafe La SQALA
To really understand Casablanca, you have to know the medina, the spot where the seed of the city fell long ago. Marrakech gate is the best entrance, with its impressive clock tower. There are no dependable maps but, with a little twist and turn, you may find your way to an ancient Portuguese fortress that dates back into the old city.
Marked by great iron cannons pointing out to sea, the bastion is known as La Sqala. It’s a restaurant now, offering exceptional cuisine from all corners of Morocco and known for its salads and fish tagines.
The entrance of the Café Maure de La Sqala, a restaurant built in the gardens within the old city wall in Casablanca, in front of the port and at the edge of the old medina.
Casablanca is one of those exceptional gems, a spot with unending intertwined layers. There has been a colossal push by His Majesty King Mohammed VI to make it a genuine culture destination. Indeed, the opening of the Four Seasons Hotel Casablanca, set in the multiuse Norman Foster–structured Anfa Place, is another indication of the city’s rising profile and its quickly improving lodging choices.
Right down the Corniche from the Four Seasons is Cabestan Ocean View, a 1927 standby seafood restaurant that is a most loved of both American Madison Cox, who lives in Tangier, and Paris-based entertainer Gad Elmaleh, who experienced childhood in Casablanca. Locals here, for the most part, recommend heading off to this sort of reliable spot. Artbook distributer Malika Slaoui, for instance, suggests Sqala Café Maure, offering tagines and grillades in a revamped stronghold, and the old-school French spot Le Rouget de l’Isle.
Architect: Wolfgang Ewerth
Nestled on the hill of Anfa Superior Casablanca, the beautiful building, which belongs to Prince Moulay Ismaïl, opens its doors until June 7, the time of a collision mounted in three days and which is finally only a pretext to discover the iconic villa Casablanca. A real architectural experimental space, this villa was designed by German architect Wolfgang Ewerth in 1962. ”
Made in the tradition of Muslim architecture, space is adorned with stucco and carved wood. Upstairs, we change the atmosphere and architectural language. With large openings that overlook the ocean or the garden, the different rooms are communicating. The architect was particularly unleashed on the two bathrooms (one in yellow and the other in pink). Designed in the American style and in blue, the kitchen is hidden.
Established in Casablanca between 1954 and 1975, Wolfgang Ewerth signed this circular jewel at a time when the city of Casablanca had become an avant-garde laboratory in architecture.
Architect: Marius Boyer
The original Hotel Anfa, wherein the 1943 Casablanca conference among De Gaulle, Roosevelt, and Churchill presided is now an apartment compound. In 1938, the “Anfa Hotel”, style liner, is built on the hill of Anfa. This last establishment is the witness of a big page of History. It is in its walls that takes place, in January 1943, the famous conference called Anfa, bringing together Roosevelt, Churchill and de Gaulle. It was in this mythic place that the fate of the Second World War was sealed since it was at that moment that important strategic decisions were made that enabled the Allies to win the war. The reasons for the unfortunate and untimely destruction of the hotel in the 1970s remain mysterious. This historic site could very well have been transformed into a museum. However, Morocco, at the time freshly independent, was not aware of the interest of this heritage and the enormous benefits it would have to preserve it.
Residence and Statue of Louis Hubert Gonsalves Lyautey
Architect: Adrien Laforgue
The bronze equestrian statue was created by Francois Cogné in 1938 and stands in front of the then Residence of General Lyautey and now Consulate of France in 1, rue Prince Moulay Abdallah. The horse is fine and racy, his neck shows the tension of the muscles. His four feet are on the ground; at orders, the flange is released. Svelte and unarmed, Marshal Lyautey salutes the starry staff received in 1921.
A French Army general and colonial administrator, Louis Hubert Gonsalve Lyautey was born in 1854. He was Morocco’s first French Resident-General to serve from 1912 to 1925. He served for a moment as Minister of War in 1917 then became a Marshal of France in 1921. Gen. Lyautey is thought to have been a fitting colonial administrator who sought to balance blunt military force and advocated a vision of a better future for Morocco under the French colonial administration.
Villa Sami Suissa
Architect: ZEVACO, Jean-François
The villa, often cited in international architecture journals, (Villa Papillon) due to cantilevered balcony and canopy, this three-bedroom house displays an interesting mix of the Parisian bourgeois arrangement of domestic programs and innovative formal vocabulary reminiscent of Brazilian lyric Modernism. This villa, designed in 1947 by the architect Jean-François Zevaco is located in the axis of a triangular plot, on the edge of the residential district of Anfa, overlooking the city, is quickly nicknamed “the pagoda” and “villa butterfly”.
The quality of locksmiths, sash guillotine lounges, monumental French windows, and grilles, is due to Ateliers Vincent Timsit. The hall, with its black marble floor, serves the reception rooms with sliding glass partitions. In its center, like a sculpture, the first flight of stairs leading upstairs is framed by glass railings held by bronze pieces.
The plan of the house somewhat rigid, since functions are clearly delineated: all common spaces are placed on the first floor private spaces on the second floor, and servant quarters the basement. Surprisingly both this partitioning and the domestic nature of the house did not impede its transformation into the multipurpose public program.
The reconversion of the villa into an elegant restaurant-tea room (Patisserie Paul) resulted in the addition of two glazed spaces under the balconies, and the leveling of the garden initially sloping gently towards a pool in a semicircle.
Australian architect Andy Martin transformed the house in 2004 into a gastronomic emporium, including a bakery, a pâtisserie, tea lounge, restaurant, a bar, event space, and an exhibition hall. The clear partitions of the initial villa facilitated the inclusion and juxtaposition of these eclectic programs: the café is on the first floor, services in the servant quarters and the extended basement and the restaurant on the second floor. Additional spaces were added to fit the remaining programs: two 100 square meters wings were placed on either side of the main body of the house to accommodate the patisserie on one side and the cocktail bar on other. The additions are built using slate walls reclaimed by the architect from demolished parts of the original villa, was constructed from this material, which is native to the coast of Casablanca.
The large garden of the house allowed also for a fluid integration of the new program. The entire grounds were indeed re-landscaped while responding to the geometry of the house: all exterior seating, pergolas, and planting follow the radius of the villa’s curved facade. The original circular shape of the pool is kept, yet it is transformed into a kiosk and below it, a multipurpose event space and exhibition hall are placed underground.
Several elements in this villa allowed for its commodification for leisure purposes. The location a corner of two major arteries, which at the time was referred to as “fit for a gas station rather than a house”4 coupled with an extroverted façade has permitted an easy switch from the realm of the private to that of the public. The care that Andy Martin took to respect the original vocabulary of the house, such as the use of monochromatic, neutral tones and of original materials, has preserved the identity of the Villa Suissa.
Architect: Marius Boyer
At the end of the 1920s, Boyer inaugurated here a radically new register among the productions of his contemporaries.
The construction of this building in 1928 by architect Marius Boyer, inaugurates the modern movement that will characterize the 30s. Perceived as a strong trend of the modern architecture Casablanca, it takes the concept of the building
By removing the continuous front of the alignment and the inner courtyard, it offers facades with “Bauhaus” accents dug above the canopy of the ground floor, creating four courses open on the tracks.
By successive residents to the heart of the island, they allow lighting all the rooms of the 45 apartments distributed by a circular staircase. This one benefits from the natural light through the service stairs whose facades, at the back of the course, are constituted, on 7 floors, of metallic panels ventilated by horizontal slats.
The only access is Ferhat Hachad street through monumental steps paneled in marble.
Encircling one of the open courtyards, two towers, connected to the 5th and 6th floor by a bridge with impeccable execution, dominate the crossroads of Ferhat Hachad Street, Avenue Lalla Yacout.
This mastered set is certainly one of the most spectacular downtowns.
Architect: Marius Boyer
The Asayag Building was the embodiment of present-day urban living. Marius Boyer, the ehe architect, got rid of the damp interior yards slash light wells that encapsulated thick urban squares. His Asayag apt. building ascended as three towers. The stairway at the focal point of each is intended to be lit and ventilated normally. Sadly, the mechanical device important to work these detailed arrangements of glass louvers has not been kept up. Shabby it might be, the Asayag Building must at present be a fantastic spot to live. The penthouses at the highest point of the towers start on the eighth floor and ascend in porches two extra floors. Condos in this and different alliances were planned with another customer base in view, the youthful upwardly-versatile single individual or a childless couple. They were not intended for families. They had open staggering designs and extended in size from studios to multi-story penthouses. In that capacity, inhabitants may have autos, the Asayag, and other enormous lofts obstruct in the focal neighborhoods had underground stopping in the storm cellar.
The Attijariwafa Building (originally the Banque Commerciale du Maroc) was built by Marius Boyer in 1930.
Church of Christ the King
Villa des Arts
Constructed in 1934, Villa Des Arts, is a historical building and among Casablanca’s leading structures of Art Deco Architecture. Villa Des Arts is part of the ONA Foundation built to support the arts. It offers rotating exhibitions and has a permanent collection.
The “Villa des Arts” is situated inside a lavish Art Deco mansion from the 1930s. Admire the building’s exteriors before stepping inside to appreciate the works of modern art.
Villa Des Arts are among the standout private institutions of its kind in the whole of the Muslim world. It’s built as one of Casablanca’s biggest museums, and the first private one in Morocco. Located between peaceful Arab League Park and the Mäarif quarter, the sublime building is home to several exhibitions featuring works of contemporary Moroccan artists. In recent years, it has developed the space into a full-blown museum of modern art. The museum highlights an astounding 800 works of art in permanent exhibitions, along with temporary exhibits per year by both local and international and contemporary artists. The Villa Des Arts is also a part of the ONA Foundation, one of Morocco’s primary cultural foundations. The Foundation’s primary aim is to promote creativity and culture within the country. A sample of pure art deco style it was expertly refurbished in 2006. All year round it presents a mix of concerts, exhibits, and cultural events to Casablanca residents and to visitors alike.
L’hôtel Central (Central Hotel)
The Central Hotel, a building turned into a hotel in 1912, is located in front of the Porte de la Marine, the only door that opens onto the sea. This location reminds us that Casablanca is a city facing the sea and to Europe. From inside the hotel, with its balconies and bay windows, you can see the ocean. The Mediterranean style of its architecture is witness to the development of trade with the Spaniards. Currently, this hotel has kept its function and remains one of the most interesting buildings of the old medina.
Architect: Hubert Bride
Built-in 1917 by French architect Hubert Bride, this is one of Casablanca’s architectural Art Deco gems that is in ruins yet has a charming façade worth visiting. Occupied by homeless people, there were several attempts to restore and rehabilitate the Lincoln Hotel or the Bessonneau building. Finally, a much-awaited makeover will soon be realized as French group REALITIES International will be the company to oversee its restoration after winning the last call for expression of interest, launched by the Urban Agency of Casablanca. The legendary Casablanca hotel where only part of the original facade remains standing came to symbolize the Art Deco era that shaped several buildings in the heart of Morocco’s economic capital. Five Star Hotel Coming Soon: On the surface of 9,500 square meters of the Lincoln Hotel, REALITIES will develop 2,000 square meters of shops and offices. The remaining 7,500 square meters will offer 124 five-star hotel rooms, as well as a restaurant, swimming pool, all with a rooftop. The preservation of the hotel’s facade entails a lot of hard work and takes a good amount of money to restore, but must be a priority and REALITIES accepted the challenge. According to reports, an estimated amount of 150 million dirhams or roughly 14M euros is the budget for the entire renovation which is set to completed by 2022.
Built-in 1909, this 3-star hotel located in the vicinity of Notre Dame de Lourdes and merely 5-minute drive of Place Mohammed V and Hassan II Mosque. Hotel Guynemer, named after the First World War French air ace has 29 guest rooms and charming Art Deco façade and interior, featuring a Moroccan architecture.
Built-in 1922 and named after a shipping company, Transatlantique, this is one of Casablanca’s architectural gems designed by Edmond Gourdain. He belongs to the first wave of architects of the colonial period. Also at the origin of the hotel Transatlantique, he realizes twenty buildings in Casablanca until the 1950s.
Aérographe de Tit Mellil (Terminal of Tit-Mellil)
Nothing better than this monument illustrates the creative freedom shown by post-war architects. Built-in 1953 by Jean François Zevaco, the air terminal, with its raw concrete structure associated with its white walls, breaks with the architectural tradition of public buildings built until then.
Architect: Pierre Jabin
Overlooking the United Nations Square with its eleven floors, the building built by Pierre Jabin, inaugurated in 1934 the construction in height in the city center. The luxury of the building lies less in its facade marked by the large vertical and horizontal lines of its bow windows than in the quality of its equipment, or the number of its elevators.
This building was long alone to dominate the place of the top of its eleven floors. It foreshadowed the high-rise buildings planned for the 1930s at the entrance to the so-called “Business District”, but one of the main roads, the current Avenue des FAR, has only been opened. in 1952. It is on this date and in a clean environment, that the building will take all its value.
Above the ground floor housing shops and three access halls, three registers develop on the height of the facade corresponding to different typologies of apartments.
The horizontal bands that mark the balconies stretch as one climbs the floors to become a continuous gallery at the coronation.
The entrance hall of Avenue Houphouët-Boigny combines marbles and mirrors to create a very cinematic atmosphere.
Moretti and Milone, associate cousins, are among the entrepreneurs of Italian origin who will form generations of maalems to which we owe the exemplary execution of buildings Casablanca.
Architect: Edmond Gourdain
In 1923, Societe Generale purchased the building of 84, boulevard Mohammed-V. The structure was among the modern city’s first buildings. Similar to many of its contemporaries, its design adapts the neo-Moorish style which was famous in Tunisia and Algeria back in the 1920s. The construction blends in classic tastes as well as features of traditional Islamic architecture formerly utilized primarily in interior design.
These elements include arched windows, interlacing, and cornices borrowed from classical Islamic arts, as well as green glazed tiles that characterize places of administrative, economic and religious nature.
Societe Generale transferred from Rue des Consuls’ Casablanca branch, where it had used from the time it first came to Morocco in 1913 and transferred on to its new home on Boulevard Mohammed V. The company, therefore, acquired a remarkable building built by Edmond Gourdain, the architect who also designed Transatlantique hotel.
As it desires to support in the preservation of Art Deco architectural heritage of the historic city center, Societe Generale Maroc rebuilt the Bank’s past head offices while preserving the facade of the building.
The building stands on four floors and has a surface area of 3,126 square meters. Keeping in mind the progressive state of oxidation of its metal beams, which implied that it’s impossible to restore the floors, Societe Generale has opted for the only known solution, which is to fully rebuilt the structure while it implements inventive solutions that enable the façade of the building to be preserved, being part of the architectural heritage of Casablanca.
It accommodated the headquarters of Societe Generale Maroc before the bank moved out again in 1979 to Boulevard Abdelmoumen.
Casablanca Chamber of Commerce and Industries
A splendid example of how the French people are preserving the Moorish atmosphere by adhering the Moorish lines in all modern things. The Casablanca Chamber of Commerce building along Boulevard Mohamed V located in the city center, with its arcades under which shops and restaurants abound for almost 2 km.
Developed by a former U.S. attaché in Morocco, Kathy Kriger, Rick’s Café Casablanca is a famous restaurant that was constructed in 1930 and is set inside a conventional impressive Moroccan mansion with a Riad or central courtyard. The lot’s layout allows for 3 facades: a port-oriented facade that gazes at the Atlantic; a unique front street entrance with heavyweight wood doors that present that of the movie; and tight dead-end access which was the main entrance in the past and today serves as the entrance service.
Due to the structure’s age and nearness to the ocean, the mansion was fully renovated and restored by Bill Willis, a U.S. architect/designer envisioned the architectural and decorative features which enriched the existing balustrades and arches to evoke the Hollywood movie “Casablanca.” Elaborate antique brass floor and table lamps with metal shades laced with beads radiate sensational mood light, and a specially designed brass lamp with beaded shade created by Bill Willis rests per table. Etched and engraved wooden tables, screens, and chairs from Syria add decorative touches suggestive of the movie’s furniture.
Added to the faithful rendering of the decoration in Casablanca, Rick’s Café today is filled with woodwork and tile that very well represent Morocco’s craft industry. The fireplace is made of engraved marble or painted tadelakt with complex zellige tile patterns highlighting the risers of the center stairs. Tadelakt in soft hues cover walls tall over the dining place, and the grounds are fixed in handmade terracotta tile.
It was the largest cinema to be built in North Africa.
The VOX was opened on December 12, 1935, at a time when the transformation is happening to existing theaters. New theaters were created which became a great move for the development of cinema exploration. Casablanca followed the movement, especially since it corresponded to the need for artistic renewal, a normal reflection of the development.
During the summer season, the Vox Cinema only screened unpublished films and made very satisfactory weekly offerings. The public, attracted by a judicious advertisement, never sulks the beautiful films, and it is wrong to underestimate sometimes its degree of artistic comprehension. It is also wrong to believe that a film dubbed, by definition, cannot fill a room.
The largest in cinema to be built in Casablanca, the largest in Morocco and one of the largest in North Africa. The designers of its building and its architect, Mr. Boyer, to whom the city already owned the very good municipal services, sought to make of it abroad, the welcoming center of the desirable importance. From the start, what strikes you is the new design of the easy accesses: an entrance hall which contains the glass cases, the controls, in the middle of which the public moves easily and without smoothly. On the left in this hall, the entrance of a massive lift that transports every three minutes thirty-five people to the highest and cheapest places. A staircase that soon divides from the hall to the upper floors. The hall is majestic with a 7-meter panel and a bay window that goes up to the first floor adds to the perspective curves. There are 2000 comfortable armchairs in the room, large padded, covered with a material of easy maintenance Three stages: an orchestra descends very gently to the orchestra pit, large enough for thirty musicians; a mezzanine whose first two rows are clubs; Finally, a higher floor, a huge balcony, with a daring slope, has been specially designed so that the less affluent population can benefit at reduced prices of a perfect comfort, as well as the happiest of this world.
The decorator thought precisely that one draws much more interesting effects from the light alone than from any ornament: it is thus that all the lighting is indirect, the brightness of lamps or chandeliers does not come to hurt the eye. and the effect of the brightness gradually light up and change colors on each side of the scene is a wonderful decorative element. Each floor corresponds to a home. For the 2000 spectators, it was necessary to make vast clearances: the hearths are immense, admirably illuminated and airy. They overlook loggias on each side of the building. In short, the necessary relaxation is the intermission of the show here is real and effective Finally, innovation in Morocco: the open sky realized through the dome opening in two parts in the middle. It is thanks to this that the show became possible in Casablanca in summer: it is cooler at VOX by the warmest parties than in any perfectly airy place. The building also has a very nice power station, installed by Hamelle Establishments with three National motors.
The conclusion that the visitor draws from a walk in all the services of this beautiful Casablanca room is that the efforts made for its construction were in every respect crowned with success. The concern for the comfort of the spectators is seen at every step. The question of hygiene, so important in North Africa, has not less caught the attention of the architect: he designed large mosaic surfaces, easily washable with large water, and everything at VOX is perfectly airy and lighted
The VOX also gives great stage performances, music-hall, theater, attractions, orchestra, etc., and this thanks to the admirably understood arrangements of the vast and well-equipped stage. Without going to the ease that would offer a turntable, the most complicated maneuvers are possible thanks to the dimensions of the stage.
Finally, there are certainly few theaters in the province that possess the equipment in ramps, harrows, projectors of all categories and all powers so complete. Since May 1936, the VoX has continued to increase the success it finds among the population of Casablanca. It was, however, closed in 1979 with Bruce Lee in “The Big Boss” and was demolished.
Al Khaouarizmy High School
Created in 1917, Al Khaouarizmy High School provides scientific and technical training related to various sectors of activity: mechanical manufacturing, refrigeration, and air conditioning, foundry, carpentry, electronics, electricity, industrial chemistry, computer science, building, mathematical sciences, experimental sciences, etc. As a result, it has been the primary source of water for many businesses, public and semi-public administrations.
Known at this time under the current name of INDUS, or the Industrial and Commercial School of Casablanca, Al Khaouarizmy High School gave the solid foundation of technical training to many Moroccan and foreign laureates. Subsequently, in 1992 the high school was the first initiator of the classes BTS building, electrical engineering, production, molding, surface treatment and the only institution of Education to ensure dual training in partnership with the various federations and industry associations. This formula immediately benefited from the positive appreciation of the leading professionals and economic operators.
Currently, the high school continues in the sense of this intelligent and practical contribution. Its general infrastructure includes several pavilions, workshops and specialized rooms: foundry, mechanics, electricity, electronics, a regional pedagogical museum, a library, a conference room.
The high school successfully combines technical contribution and socio-cultural activities. In this regard, its participation in cultural events (fair, exhibition, CDI, international events) has always been awarded. Rich of these fruitful achievements, the high school Al Khaouarizmy remains a reference in technical education in Morocco.
The Arab League Park of Casablanca
Close to the administrative square which is at present the Mohammed V square which will be the home of the new institutions such as city hall, court, post office) 30 hectares were taken to construct a huge park, which breathes air for the new city. The park of the Arab League, formerly known as Lyautey Park, is among the first major urban planning projects of Casablanca city, under the leadership of Henri Prost which was at that time, the “Special Service of Architecture and City Plans” Director.
As per General Lyautey’s request, JC Nicolas Forestier, a landscape architect, came to Morocco in 1913, to present the concept of urban development in specific areas that were created in the United States and Europe in the second half of the twentieth century.
In his mission report, he recommends on the one hand that the plan of the city indicates reserves of land for the future parks, and on the other hand that these lands are networked by roads planted. It also establishes a list of plants to be introduced perfectly adapted to urban planning in Morocco.
Lyautey Park was created very quickly in 1917, despite an unfavorable context, according to the design of Albert Laprade, the architect in charge of the development of the parks and gardens of the city in the Prost team. Applying Forestier’s recommendations, the park is organized around a large promenade marked by an alignment of palm trees and highlighted by paths lined with ficus trees. It connects the city center to Circular Boulevard (Zerktouni Boulevard).
Rather classic by its design (axis of symmetry and perspectives) and its furniture (pergolas, historical relics), the modernity of the place resides in the sports facilities provided (among others: athletics stadium, physical education building, petanque club ). Laprade is openly inspired by the hygienist ideas in vogue among European town planners, according to which modern cities must welcome within them equipment that is conducive to sporting activities that are beneficial to the health of the population.
The ‘Grand ‘Palais’ was constructed in 1952 thru popular global architects. It has since catered to a large number of thriving events for a long time. At present, it is classified as a colonial landmark.
The large arched exhibit hall stands seventeen meters tall, spreads at 91m in width and 200 meters long and is a first in the world by its dimension. The rustic features and clean lines are very much a representation of the 1950s.
Raymond Lucaud sketches stressed the unrivaled historic importance of Grand Palais’ architectural dome design.
At present, the OFEC carries out over forty show and events every year which includes professional market fairs and exhibits to help the many fundamental foreign and local industries. It is facilitating a wide scope of occasions including specific, open shows, national/local occasions, global and local shows. It attempts to be the finest administration to guarantee the service meets the quality and necessities by clients.
Architects Robert Maddalena and Raumond Lucaud were tasked to execute the Grand Palais project which at the time of 1953 was the biggest single-length curve on the planet with total working days: 365 days
Everything was completed by SELVA, a local organization with a manpower of around 300 laborers and administrators.
A few European administrators: two architects, an engineer, contractor and foreman
The Casablanca Int’l. Fair or FIC was established in 1937 with a principal amount of 4M francs, initially utilizing the Casablanca Port’s facilities.
With the extension of the Port in 1952, the FIC was moved to its current area and was overseen by the establishing organization as a byproduct of the yearly association of the exhibit called as the ‘Casablanca Int’l. Fair’ ‘which has stopped to be held from 1989 following the establishment of the Great Hassan II Mosque.
1970: Formation of the Committee of Casablanca Fairs
The Comite des Foires de Casablanca by the pronouncement of January 26, 1970, ‘directed by the Casablanca prefecture governor was made for the association, the executives and liquidation of any Local, Regional and International Fair carried out in the city.
The opening of OFEC Dahir of November 19, 1977
The production of The Office of Fairs & Expositions of Casablanca or OFEC raised the focal panel of Casablanca fairs in office,
1987 was recognized by the selection of the Dir. Gen. of the OFEC from one viewpoint and by sorting out various occasions and market shows influencing all the influential areas of the nation.
The office has expanded its undertakings from ten market exhibits in 1987, all sorted out by the OFEC and spoke to the divisions previously referenced, to twenty-seven trade fairs prior to 2000, seventeen of the companies were controlled by privately owned businesses.
In 2000, the Dahir raising the OFEC was modified by Law No. 72-99, distributed in BO at March 16, 2000, the law has expanded the extent of the association by permitting other open bodies, privately owned businesses, and professional organizations to work in the area of exhibits and fairs.
OFEC turned into the originator of the association of specific exhibitions to advance the country’s economy and the foundation of ances amongst Moroccan business people and their overseas partners, adding to the advancement of the economy, the picture of Morocco on the planet.
Historical influences of Morocco
Morocco has been populated since the Paleolithic times and the man left his traces in all subsequent stages of prehistory.
The Phoenicians and Carthaginians will be the first to settle on the coast and to put Morocco in history. However, it was under the Roman Empire that the country was penetrated to the depths and its “tribal republics” Latinized and reorganized to form a new Roman province: Mauritania Tingitana. The Romans will entrust the administration of this territory to Berber princes rallied, and will thus discharge the specific problems posed by a population particularly jealous of its identity.
Historians have not yet been able to determine the date of the arrival of these tribes in North Africa. The ethnic diversity of the Berbers makes research even more difficult. Nevertheless, the strange linguistic and cultural unit that brings Algerian Kabylia closer to the Rif and Sub Moroccan. Today, more than a third of the inhabitants are fluent in one or another of the various Berber dialects. Moroccan history, the very formation of the state, will often be the work of the descendants of the great Berber Islamized tribes. The ancient Berber culture and the administrative and urban legacies of Rome will enrich, we will see, Moroccan Islam, which will demonstrate its capacity for synthesis.
At the end of VIII century, one hundred years after the founding of Kairouan in Ifrigiya, two events will profoundly mark the entire history of Moroccan art.
The first, in 786, is the beginning of the construction of the Great Mosque of Cordoba by ‘Abd er Rhamanler, the second, in 789, is the foundation of Madinat Fas by Idris I.
Umayyad prince fleeing Damascus, his capital, ‘Abd er Rhaman settles in Andalusia. He crossed the entire Muslim empire to settle at its extreme western limit. He brings and develops a refined culture and prodigious knowledge. They will make Morocco the most eastern land in the Maghreb.
But the brilliance of this civilization on the borders of the then medieval Christian world would have been brief if every Moroccan dynasty, during four centuries, had brought to it, across the Straits, new blood. The Almoravids from the desert, the Almohads of the Atlas, the nomadic Merinids of the Sahara, so many waves from Morocco to revitalize the Andalusian culture. The ebb brought to Morocco the progress of science and the arts as well as a refined lifestyle.
This permanent osmosis has shaped Moroccan art during centuries until the time of the Saadian sheriffs. The last wave returned from Spain with the last Nasrid king Abou’Abdillah (Boabdil), defeated, put an end to this extraordinary exchange of influences, at a time when the Ottoman expansion was going to isolate Morocco from the rest of the Muslim world, and thus help to achieve its cultural unity.
Morocco before Islam
Berber architecture at the time of the first penetration of the Light: Islam.
Morocco, el Maghrib el agça, or far-off west, at the time when the new religion took root, was peopled by tribes with little cohesion, almost pantheistic, and some monotheistic groups, Christian or Jewish. In reality, Morocco was younger than Ifriqiya (now Tunisia with its center at that time, Kairouan) and, of course, the Orient, Islamized for two centuries.
But, in the VIII century, the Zenetes founded the city of Sijilmassa, which became the second Muslim city of the Maghreb after Kairouan, city with which it kept economic and artistic contacts. We tried to demonstrate the continuity of architectural techniques (use of raw brick) perpetuated in the Tafilalet and, although the importance of this city real link between the Maghreb and black Africa the ancient Arab chroniclers (and Moroccans in Right now, around the locality of Rissani, only very poor vestiges, to testify to the past prestige of this city, but this province of Tafilalet, which has preserved only few relics of its prestigious past.
Sijilmassa was, according to the geographer El-Bikri, founded by the blacksmith Midrar, a Berber of the Meknassa tribe, in 757. But Sijilmassa is especially the cradle of the current Alawite chorfa dynasty that seized power by seizing Fez and northern Morocco (Moulay Rachid, 1666), while Rissani is considered as a holy city, it is there fet the tomb of Moulay Ali Cherif (descendant of the Prophet), ancestor of His Majesty Hassan II.
Of this ancient architecture, Morocco retains ksour (plural of ksar) real fortresses built in adobe These ksour, defended by walls, rise to the edge of the desert forming sometimes large, very original agglomerations with their houses covered with terraces, decorated with arcades, balustrades up to date. bristling with square turrets crenellated. has been emphasized by particular), it remains, – disputed several dynasties and this for centuries, especially in the south
Before the penetration of Islam, says Ahmed Sefrioui, there was obviously a Berber architecture whose origin and age have unfortunately still not been specified so far. On the one hand, we can see rather rough constructions in dry stone, on the other hand we can see especially in the pre-Sahara, the Anti-Atlas, the Sous, the High Atlas and even the Middle Atlas, better designed buildings. , true fortresses using the accidents of the ground, decorated in the highest parts either of painted ornaments, or of geometric devices in relief. These buildings are named ighrem or tighremt.
Morocco has always had a fighting attitude. He represents fighting Islam. This is his reason for being. He was, and still is, as G. Marçais says, “the unshakable bastion of the Faith”.
I spite of this suspicious attitude towards foreign influence – that of the “infidels” especially – Moroccan society was accessible to the influences which came to him from Moslem Spain, this Andalusia become today a Catholic Maghreb.
The very name of Hispano-Moorish art says quite the symbiosis and union that will give the most beautiful works of Islam. It goes without saying that trade has remained constant between Morocco and the kingdoms of Granada, Seville and Cordoba. Fez, Tetouan and Rabat did they not collect the majority of the Muslims of Spain “repressed” by the reconquest? They have established themselves, without hope of return, at Firdaous (Paradise).
Those who were called the Moriscos, unwilling to stay under the domination of Christians, who for the most part belonged to the urban elite, these “émigrés” enjoying some culture, have been a useful contribution to Morocco, land of refuge.
The Mérinides, more than all others, at the cost of laborious efforts, have benefited from this heritage. Ya’qoub first, who, like any Muslim ruler, gave himself a capital to him: this capital will be Fez the New (Fas Jadid).
After, and following his example, the sultans Abou’l Hassan and especially his son Abu Inan will prove to be the greatest builders of their dynasty. The historian of Abou’l Hassan, Ibn Marzouq, enumerates in several chapters the foundations of his master. He tells us about the bridges, the aqueducts, the enclosures and ramparts of the city, and especially the madrasas.
Ibn Khaldoun evokes the arrival in Fez of the princess Azzouna proposed in marriage by the sultan Abu ‘Hassan. To welcome him, this one makes build in Fez, in a few weeks, by an army of artists, one of the most beautiful palaces of which he himself drew the plan. “Thus,” says Ibn Khaldun, “he gives his palace an invaluable treasure, a glorious subject to his empire, to himself and to his family a high illustration.”
The original characters of Hispano-Moorish art are the guarantee of the profound independence of Morocco. Georges Marçais recalls that:
“Morocco has been deeply marked and still is – by the Andalusian civilization. The art of these cities continues to live on these Hispano-Moorish bottoms of the time of the Almoravids and Mérinides.
The disappearance of Spanish Islam has somewhat sterilized his artistic life, but the Christian re-conquest that began in his territory has more surely hindered his evolution.
Between Spain and Europe, Spain does not have the power to set up a barrier; the army has not ceased to oppose its own resistance to the empire of the masters of the East.
Seut, he escaped the Ottoman domination which imposed itself on the other countries of Islam. In our approach to Islamic art in Morocco, we have been led to conclude that Ottoman influence was almost non-existent. ”
The Turks had invaded the Byzantine Empire and Persia, they extended to Vienna and the Balkans, Anatolia, Syria, Egypt, Iraq, Arabia, Tunisia, Tripolitania (the Libya) and finally Algeria. This Turkish wave came to die on the Moroccan border
Historians confirm that Morocco has escaped the ambitions of the Turks of Algiers and that it has followed an independent path within the present borders, that is to say separated from Algeria, but turned towards the Europe and Atlantic Africa.
That the Turks never exercised power in Morocco, and that Morocco has never gravitated around the Ottoman Empire does not necessarily mean that the institutions of Turkey, its style and its art could have influenced Moroccan culture. Fashions and loans easily cross borders. But of all this very little remained under the Alawite dynasty, in three and a half centuries of undisputed Moroccan independence.
Of course, it’s impossible not to see that art, that the arts Muslims form a bridge, a continuous chain from East to West. But the peculiarities of the evolution of Hispano-Moorish art allow us to assert the identity of a Moroccan art, to affirm its profound cultural independence.
The old white neighborhoods: A tale of the name
“Krikwar” in Darb Al Sultan
In the middle of the last century, Krikwar, or Krikwan, the neighborhood belonging to the redemption laborers of Mers Sultan, was a peasant area, where sheep, goats and cattle were common.
This area was known for the fertility of its land and the presence of large groundwater that the French centenarians established large farms.
Madame Krikouar (later named after the neighborhood) was one of the most famous French centenarians who lived in the area, known for her love of the region and her love of mixing with Moroccan families, according to the old residents of the neighborhood.
In 1947, Madame Krikouar undertook to build an elementary school in the region, called Crete, which had the greatest credit in saving the sons of redemption, the sultan’s path of illiteracy.
“Bossper” in the old town
Frio Prosper, a French engineer from Marseille who arrived in Morocco in the early 1930s, visited a few neighborhoods than in Casablanca. He knew that there were no special places for prostitutes and prostitutes, and he built a number of dwellings.
A few years later, he will become one of the richest people in Casablanca. In white, there is not only one neighborhood called Bousbeir, but two, the first in the old city and the second near Caesarea excavator Darb al-Sultan.
Some believe that the trail of a Jew in Darb al-Sultan is a Jewish neighborhood, such as the navigator in the old city of Casablanca and a number of Moroccan cities that have known a large Jewish presence.
The name belongs to the family of Pierre Auguste Martini, the great real estate revival whose name was associated with the neighborhoods of Al-Habbas near the Royal Palace, while Odell is the name of his son, who also worked in the real estate world in white.
Odile Martini is known for his fight against colonialism and his standing with the Moroccans against the French during the protection period. Pierre Auguste Martini and Odile Martini loved Morocco and Casablanca in particular and decided to bury us at the Christian cemetery near the Anqq district on the city’s promenade.
The “Gran” Trail
In the center of the old city, near Bousbeer, there is the “Gran” trail. Despite the strange name, some of the old inhabitants of the neighborhood remember the presence of a large “Daya” swamp.
Despite the many building that filled the «Daya», but the name remained close to the famous path in the center of the old city.
The poor trail
There are two interpretations behind the designation of the neighborhood as the poor. First, Al-Bayda witnessed a mass exodus from the Doukkala and Chaouia areas. The second explanation is that the neighborhood was called the trail of the poor because those who lived there were poor, as was the majority of the inhabitants of Bayda during that period.
During the 1920s, a French family chose to move away from the city center to build a casino. They chose this coastal area. Boundaries of the fifties of the last century.
Years later, this neighborhood will become one of the finest neighborhoods of the economic capital, and even has its own church, French schools, and even a lighthouse.
During the colonial period, the district had two high-class schools, Claude Bernard and the station which later became Imam Malik.
In 1929 the sugar refinery saw the light in Casablanca under the name «Cosima» by the company of Saint Louis Marseille. Around the factory, workers from Chaouia and Doukkala began to build houses, turning the neighborhood into «Cosima».
In 1967, the Moroccan state will become the owner of 50% of the capital of the French company to become the name «Cosimar».
Karian Skouila in Sidi Moumen Province, Casablanca, was named after a Jewish school in the area.
Skwila means “school” in Spanish, a private school for Jews, before turning it into the headquarters of a private company. The Skouila roundabout was originally one of the destinations for a number of Moroccans living in the rural world who have been ravaged by years of drought.
The new Moroccan families joined other Moroccan families who lived alongside some Spanish families that were active in agriculture, cattle and animal husbandry.
The name belongs to the family «Gulf», which had vast land used for agriculture and livestock before the neighborhood turned into a shanty role and then «Gothia» months in the world.
His fame has exceeded all horizons, not because of his greatness or for the quality of what he offers, but because he is haunted by the biggest computer companies in the world. Behind the huts made of tin and wood lay a commercial market for millions, and pirates described them more than a report of information geniuses. The French channel TV5 prepared a documentary about the market and called its employees “Darb Gulf Engineers”, although most of the young practitioners who are unemployed, including engineers with high degrees, chose the profession of hackers and encryption and provide services to their customers cheaply.
Linking the city with its righteous guardians
Sid Aboulayouth or Sidi Omar Ben Haroun El Mediouni, whose mausoleum is located in the heart of the economic capital of Casablanca, lived as a shepherd of sheep and goats.
Sidi Belyout is one of the oldest devine economic capital along with Sidi Allal Karouani, which is only a few meters away.
Sidi Omar Ben Haroun El Mediouni was also known for his taming of the lions and accompanying them. His original name is Abu Hafs Omar ibn Harun and he is indebted to him. Bouazza bin Abdulrahman, the tribe of Zemmour.
Sidi Mohamed Mers Sultan
He was an aide to Sultan Moulay Hassan I, who was in charge of overseeing the military barracks of Casablanca, but he soon ascended in the position and sold his property and went to the city of Fez to receive religious sciences in the mosque of the villagers, and his teachers marked the big issue, and then returned to the white, where he mocked his wealth To serve the poor and orphans, he knew his ability to cure psychological anxiety, even in his most intractable situations.
There is a grave in the neighborhood of hospitals near the university hospital Ibn Rushd.
Sidi Allal Karouani
The mausoleum of Sidi Allal Kairouani is located in the scaffold in front of the port of Bayda. If Sidi Abderrahmane Ben Jilali, whose mausoleum is located on a rock in Ain El-Dhoulib Beach, is of Iraqi origin, Sidi Allal Kairouani is of Tunisian origin from the city of Kairouan.
The arrival of Sidi Allal Kairouani dates back to the 14th century.
The French researcher Bertimi that the guardian Allal Kairouani married a woman living with a nose called «Lalla white» died before him and built a shrine was dyed white and named the city on this shrine.
In charge of building his current mausoleum in the scaffolding Sultan Moulay Abdellah.
Sidi Abdel Rahman
On a large rock on the shore of Ain El-Wolab in Casablanca, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, a green dome is surrounded by some residential and commercial shops, known to the Casablanca and the inhabitants of the economic capital, the mausoleum of Sidi Abderrahman «Mall Almagmar».
According to the author of the Awliya in Morocco, researcher Mohamed Janboubi, Sidi Abderrahmane hails from the Iraqi capital Baghdad and lived in the sixth century AH. He is also said to be one of the contemporaries of the first Sheikh of Sufism in Morocco, including Abu Chouaib Saria, Moulay Abdellah Amgar and Abdeljalil Ben Wehlan. And others.
Before settling where his grave is today, Sidi Abderrahmane was frequently traveling between several places from the coast between A السبعn Sebaâ and Aينn el-Wolb ،, which was a connected forest, multi-tree and full of animals, traveling barefoot, hanging behind a pigtail behind his back. The hair of his head according to the book «Rituals and secrets of the shrines of Casablanca» by Dr. Mustafa Akhmis.
Conclude with Georges Marçais:
“This singular adventure, the geographical situation, the character of its population and its religiosity should assign to Morocco an exceptional place in the Moslem world, make it the refuge of an archaic Islam and give it powerful originality, which does not exclude possibilities for the future.
The concept of HabitationThe first thing you have to own is a house and it is also the last thing you have to sell because it is the tomb of this world. Moroccan proverb.
If the Moroccan house turns towards the street walls similar to ramparts, it is on the other hand largely opened on a patio with galleries or on a lovingly maintained garden.
Ther way of life imposes on Moroccans a home closed to the outside world, favoring isolation and intimacy. The house, therefore, has primarily a fence function. However, a place of recollection as well as escape, it offers to its occupants an enchanting setting.
It is as difficult to recognize the architectural transformations of history as to trace their evolution. All the old houses updated are built in a similar way and we find the type in the outbuildings of the current great palaces.
The typical house is organized around woust ed dar (middle of the house), square courtyard paved with zelliges or marble, which generally includes a basin of water also in marble. An orange tree or a lemon tree often brings a note of greenery to the whole.
On the three or four sides of the courtyard, the rooms are built on two or sometimes three levels. The pillars support the advanced ceilings to constitute a row of galleries open on the patio from which they are separated by a turned wooden balustrade (derbouz). The rooms are wide and without much depth. They are lit and ventilated by a double door and rare low windows. The ground floor usually includes the family living room, one or two bedrooms, the bath, and the kitchens. It is precisely here that around a water conduit is an area used for ritual ceremonies, such as the sacrifice of the sheep on the day of Aid el Kebir (Idu’l adha). The first floor is reserved for the master of the house. There is the main bedroom and sometimes the library. Through a staircase at the entrance, you reach a large lounge reserved for dinners and receptions. This arrangement underscores the Moroccan’s desire to subtract modestly from his family space in social life.
It is in the 14th-century mérinide that the type of the Moroccan house is fixed in its essential features.
The Andalusian origin of the model partially explains the similarity between the Fassie house and the Algerian and Tunisian house.
Love and Censorship
Six days before Casablanca started production, Jack Warner received a letter from the Production Code Administration, the moral overseer that the industry had set up in an act of self- happy censorship. Joe Breen had read Part I of the script and was to report that-except for a few lines of dialogue-the script met the Code requirements.
Naturally, all the unacceptable lines had sexual implications:
Page 5: “Of course, a beautiful young girl for M’sieur Renault, the Prefect of Police.”
Page 6: “The girl will be released in the morning.
The Production Code reflected Roman Catholic morality overlaid by conservative Protestantism. It had been written in 1930 by a Jesuit priest and the Catholic publisher of a movie trade paper. And it began to be enforced in 1934 after Catholic bishops formed the Legion of Decency and threatened to bar American Catholics from seeing all movies. For good measure, it was enforced by a Catholic, although the power in the Code Administration belonged to Will Hays, an elder in the Presbyterian church.
Joseph Ignatius Breen objected to two other lines in the incomplete Casablanca script. A woman who has no money says, “It used to take a Villa at Cannes, or the very least, a string of pearls – Now all I ask is an exit visa.” And after Renault watches Rick send Yvonne home, he says, “How extravagant you are-throwing away women like that. Some day they may be rationed.
In 1942, movies had no free-speech protection,* so the industry felt vulnerable to censorship from dozens of cities and states. Locked in a mutually advantageous embrace (the Code defined public purity while partially shielding the industry from more excessive local censors) the industry and the Code usually accommodated each other. The beautiful young girl remained in the final movie-with no indication of how long she would be held. The woman who was willing to trade her body for an exit visa was eliminated. And, instead of saying that women might be rationed, Claude Rains said they might be scarce.
The Production Code served and served up the mainstream morality and conservative political attitudes of America’s small towns and small cities. The American court system must not be shown as unjust. Religion and the flag were to be treated with respect. The Code insisted that “The sanctity of the institution of marriage and the home shall be upheld,” with the corollary that “Impure love must not be presented as attractive and beautiful. Sexual perversions, white slavery, and lustful kissing ‘ were not to be shown.
Adultery was to be punished. There was to be no nudity. Obscenity and profanity were forbidden. Obscenity and profanity included such words as nerts, nuts, cripes, fanny, Gawd, hell, and hold your hat.
The studios could-and did-finagle and maneuver. After meeting between Breen and Wallis, a number of lines that referred to Renault’s womanizing were removed from the script, but Claude Rains’s performance left no doubt that Renault traded exit visas for sex. Warner Bros. followed Breen’s suggestion and made sure that no bed was visible in Rick’s apartment. Audiences were allowed to decide what, if anything, happened during the dissolve that followed Rick’s passionate kiss. (Breen insisted on a dissolve rather than the fade-out in the script since a fade-out signals the passage of time. Of such circumventions was the Code built.)
The marriage of Ilsa and Victor Laszlo was important to the plot, and the studio left in Ilsa’s offending line that she had been married “Even when I knew you in Paris.” The fact that when she met Rick Ilsa thought her husband was dead may have been a good enough excuse.
The studio also refused to take out a line that was not at all important to the plot. Breen felt that when Rick lashes out at Ilsa by telling her that he has heard a lot of stories that “went along with the sound of a tinny piano in the parlor downstairs,” it was a “quite definite reference to a bawdy house.” No movie was allowed to show or refer to a brothel. A few years earlier, in the Bette Davis- Humphrey Bogart movie Marked Woman, Warners had had to turn call girls controlled by gangsters into “hostesses.” But each side knew which battles were worth winning, and Breen did not further attack Casablanca’s oblique reference to a house of ill repute. Although the Code was obsessive about language, the Code’s guardians often let the subtle slip by. When Casablanca was finished, it earned the Production Code Certificate of Approval 8457. The movie’s summation page in the Production Code files lists “Much Drinking,” a little gambling, two killings, and no illicit sex.
One reason that the studios accommodated themselves so easily to the Code – and, during the war, to the often conflicting demands of the Office of War Information – is that they were constantly censoring themselves. The writers were censored by the expectations of the audience and by the expectations of the studio. No anti-Roosevelt picture would have gotten beyond a first draft at Warner Bros., while L. B. Mayer would have turned down scripts that showed the President favorably. Since America in 1942 was a more homogenous and repressed country, the censors also had the two potent weapons of shame and good manners.
Today, the basic censorship is that of the box office. It is not that modern moviemakers have no awareness of ideology, and a few, including Oliver Stone, ride their hobby horses into whatever thickets they wish. But for those who choose to be socially or politically correct, such correctness is often simply another way to sell tickets, since certain incorrect stands-deferential black mammies fussing
golden-haired white children, for example-won’t sell. With movies protected by the Constitution, anything that promises to make a buck, no matter how derivative or tasteless, will be filmed by some producer, while scripts that seem difficult to sell to audiences, no matter how brilliant or tasteful, will rarely find buyers. The studio factories, cushioned by the ability to sell movies to theaters they owned, sometimes found over easier to mix a little art into their commerce.
How was Casablanca affected by the Production Code? The writers and director were forced to be subtle, to use language, pauses, and camera angles as sexual metaphors. The scene when Rick and Ilsa first see each other again and talk of Paris in front of Laszlo and Renault-“I remember every detail. The Germans wore gray; you wore blue”-is pulsing with sexual tension. Today, any movie that didn’t show Rick and Ilsa sweatily grappling with each other’s naked bodies in Rick’s apartment above the café would be considered old-fashioned. But graphic sex wipes out ambiguity, and the ambiguity in Casablanca-the uncertainty about events and motives – is one of the things that still entices us.
Casablanca was censored by the Production Code, the Office of War Information, and the studio itself. At the same time that Warner Bros. was arguing with Breen, the studio’s head of foreign publicity, Carl Schaefer, was suggesting changes that would make the movie easier to sell abroad. To avoid offending any friendly country, Schaefer suggested that two pickpockets and Peter Lorre’s Ugarte-be Italian. Since the character played by Sydney Greenstreet appeared to be Spanish- he was still named Martinez as he had been in the play-he must have a distinguished appearance. The South American entertainer played by Corinna Mura “could flatter Latin America if given dignity and if her artistry is top-notch.” And Wallis must be very careful with the allusions to the Mohammedan religion in several early scenes.
“We didn’t want to offend anybody,” says Schaefer, laughing at his memo fifty years later. “We wanted to be able to show pictures anyplace. I’m surprised Wallis took Schaefer’s suggestions seriously. The pickpocket and the murderer were turned into Italians. So was the head of the black market in Casablanca, Sydney Greenstreet, who became Signor Ferrari. And all references to Mohammedanism were cut out. Wallis had a second reason for eliminating what he called the Allah, Allah business. As he wrote Curtiz, “It does seem to be a little on the operetta, Desert Song style and I would much prefer to keep these opening scenes realistic.”
During the few weeks just before and after Casablanca began shooting, Wallis made dozens of such decisions. “Hal was a great producer,” says his story editor, Irene Lee. “I worked for two years for Sam Goldwyn, and they were two of the unhappiest years of my life. I had been told what marvelous taste Goldwyn had, but I sat in a projection room with him for hours and never heard him say a creative word. Hal knew every aspect of pictures and, whe he was at Warner Bros., he okayed every single thing-every costume, every script, every set.
With the larger problem of an unfinished script looming over his head, Wallis shaped Casablanca in a hundred small ways. He kept insisting on “sketchy, interesting lighting. During Rick’s drunken reverie that led into the flashback, Wallis wrote Curtiz, “The general lighting in the Café should be turned out when we dissolve into the room from the Ext. Sign and the Café should be almost in darkness with the exception of a couple of lamps on the bar [and] two or three lights on tables.
Wallis wanted Humphrey Bogart to wear as few hats as possible. Bogart definitely to be hatless throughout the flashback except at the train station. He preferred the way Claude Rains looked in the photograph labeled Moustache B and Paul Henreid with a white streak in his hair. He did not want Sydney Greenstreet to wear the Moroccan shoes and semi-native outfit outlined on the wardrobe plot. At all times Greenstreet must wear a white single-breasted suit and, possibly, a cummerbund. The young couple from Bulgaria, played by Helmut Dantine and Joy Page, must look as if they escaped “with just the clothes on their backs.
The clothes for Casablanca were designed by Orry-Kelly who was the major costume designer at Warner Bros. from 1932 to 1943. Born in Australia, Orry-Kelly openly and flamboyantly homosexual and famous for his tantrums. His personal style didn’t bother Bette Davis. She said that when Orry-Kelly left the studio in 1944 after the fight with Warner she felt as though she had lost her right arm. “His contribution to my career was an enormous one, she wrote. “He never featured his clothes to such a degree that the performance was overshadowed.”
Wallis threw out the costume Orry-Kelly had created for Bergman’s entrance into Rick’s Café. On page 25 of Everybody Comes to Rick’s, Lois Meredith enters the café wearing “a magnificent white gown, and a full-length cape of the same fabric. Her jewels are fabulous.” The Epsteins had incorporated the same costume into their script. But if Helmut Dantine and Joy Page have escaped with just the clothes on their back so have Paul Henreid and Ingrid Bergman. The “evening formal attire” listed in the wardrobe plot and tossed out by Wallis was changed into a simple white two-piece dress.
Wallis had tried to keep David O. Selznick from looking at Ingrid Bergman’s costume tests. Selznick was always obsessive about his actresses and would be sure to write one of his famous long memos. But Selznick managed to see the tests two days after the movie started
production and was appalled. “In order for her to look smart, she doesn’t have to be dressed up like a candy box,” he wrote in his memo. Most of the hats were hideous, he complained. She “shouldn’t ear white shoes because they make her feet look simply titanic. The evening dress with the striped skirt and sheer blouse was hideous too, Selznick said and made Bergman look big in the rear.
Most of the costumes that dismayed Selznick had already been thrown out by Wallis. And Bergman assured Selznick that she would be wearing low-heeled blue shoes in the only on scenes where her feet would be seen.
Paul Henreid always ridiculed the idea of Victor Laszlo, a “fugitive leader of the resistance,” running around the world “in an immaculately clean white suit,” but Wallis did tone the costumes down, while still allowing for the flourishes and designing skills that always highlighted the stars. He eliminated the tuxedo that Henreid was scheduled to wear in Rick’s Café and settled for a “very well-tailored” tropical suit.
Verisimilitude was more important than truth anyway. The most powerful political metaphor in Casablanca-Victor Laszlo leading the patrons of Rick’s Café in the French national anthem and drowning out the German officers who are singing “Watch on the Rhine”-was deliberately phony. The Nazi anthem was the “Horst Wessel” song. But the copyright to “Horst Wessel” was controlled by a German publisher. If Warner Bros. used the song, the studio would be able to show Casablanca in countries at war with Germany, but copyright restrictions would make it impossible to show the film in neutral countries, which included most of South America.
Lee Katz wrote Wallis on May 27 that the music department had found that it was against the principles of the Nazi Party to sing “Watch on the Rhine.” “Horst Wessel” and “Deutschland Über Alles” were the only two songs approved by the Nazis.
Wallis left that decision in Curtiz’s hands. “If we want to be technically correct, we should not use this,” he wrote Curtiz as soon as he received Katz’s memo. “I doubt if many people know that this song is not in favor with the Nazi Party but, if you feel that we should be accurate, I would suggest that we use ‘Deutschland Über Alles.” Curtiz, as always, chose the dramatic over the correct.
Movies, then as now, were a blend of implausible stories and background details that were as accurate as of the studios’ research libraries.
What New York City is to the United States, Casablanca is to Morocco: a crowded, noisy, wealthy, commercial center on the Atlantic coast. The North African metropolis is surprisingly unappreciated, both at home and abroad, for its unique abundance of Art Deco architecture. 4 Once a sleepy, out-of-the-way fishing village, Casablanca blossomed under the French Protectorate and because of a boom town with a first-class port. Along with its wide, paten-lined boulevards, luxurious Art Deco apartment and office buildings reminiscent of the Trocadero district in Paris sprang up. 4 Today, Casablanca city officials are anxious to establish an Art Deco historic district. Efforts are underway to rekindle a public appreciation of the city’s dazzling collection of building facades, front doors, balconies, and balustrade staircases from the increasingly popular 1920s and 1930s.
HOME FOR MORE THAN SIXTY YEARS OF THE LEGENDARY COUNTESS de Bretcuil, the Hispano-Moorish Villa Taylor is in the middle of Marrakesh yet hidden from public view. It lies today behind massive, guarded gates in an enormous garden of palm, fir, and olive trees. A superb example of lavish, massive, pre–World War II Moroccan architecture and interior design—the house was built in the 1920s —the villa’s huge main rooms contain museum-quality hand-painted ceilings, doors, and shutters. “Scholars come here all the time to study the craftsmanship,” says the countess. 4 With many cozy, secluded small rooms in towers up hidden staircases, perfect for totes-a-totes or liaisons amour uses, the villa is best known for the splendor and richness of its Moroccan-tiled living room, where visitors step back in time. Tigerskin rugs, deep sofas piled with pillows covered in Moroccan fabrics, big leather ottomans, a shortwave radio picking up jazz beamed in from Paris, tables crowded with family photographs in silver frames and vases of pink and red roses from the garden: le grand salon is a marvelous continuation of French Protectorate luxe lifestyle in Morocco. Here, for years, the countess has entertained scores of friends beneath a towering, sumptuous green-and-yellow Marrakesh-style wood ceiling. Painted with swags, floral and geometric motifs, it is made—as is all paneling in Morocco—from rot-proof and worm proof Atlas Mountain cedar, which doesn’t need to be treated or varnished. the wall shed. True to tradition, the lower part of the wall, the upper portion with a frieze of very finely carved plaster of Paris windows or chems. An ancient bell system still serves a purpose in the rambling three-story villa. When the signal under the word “Madame” flashes, it usually signifies that it is time to take the countess her breakfast tray. Bells labeled “Chambre Rouge,” “Chambre Jaune,” and “Chambre Bleu” summon the staff to eight guest rooms, each with a different Moroccan motif, a sunken marble bathtub, well-worn rugs, and a fireplace. “Loge” is the wood-paneled card room. And “Secret” (for “Secretaire”) is the library, where Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt sat down for further talks after the Casablanca Conference in January of 1943. “Churchill was so moved by the sight of the snow-capped Atlas from the villa roof, he persuaded the president to allow himself to be taken out of his wheelchair and carried up,” the countess recalls. “It was dusk. The mountains were blood red and the muezzins had begun to call the faithful to prayer. It was one of the deepest moments in the two friends’ lives.” Today, the Countess de Breteuil climbs the same three stair-cases up to her roof several times a day, alone. From morning until evening, she has never grown tired of her view. “C’est ma promenade,” she says, and smiles.
A Moroccan Folly
U.S. Ambassador to Morocco Frederick Vreeland, and his wife, artist Vanessa Somers, once lived in Rome. But they vacationed in Marrakesh, where they have built, are still building, and insist they will always be building Villa Cafrevan in the Palmeraie, or palm oasis. Inside and out, it is a blend of Indian, Moroccan, Italian, and 1001 Nights architecture whose unconventionality has amazed all of Marrakesh for years. The rambling, adobe funhouse, designed by French solar architect Dominic Michelis, is multileveled and contains endless grand salons, Petit’s salons, nooks, crannies, grottoes, stair-cases, landings, hideaways, and balconies. There are eight theme bed-rooms—Jungle, Bonsai, Nursery, and Tantra among them—and twelve baths. Surrounded by acres of palms, umbrella pines from Italy, litchi trees from China, and mango trees from Florida, the villa’s first non-Moroccan surprise is a columned entryway. It is a replica of Borromini’s famed trompe l’oeil loggia in the Palazzo Spada in Rome. “Vanessa and I don’t take ourselves seriously. We love things that fool the eye, that has humor, that shows a bit of eccentricity,” Vreeland explains. The villa’s exterior definitely lives up to its two owners’ whimsical, eclectic demands. There are Moghul-style cupolas, chimneys, and windows copied from the fabled city of Fatehpur Sikri in India; purposely half-ruined adobe walls with the white checker-board design are reminiscent of Moroccan kasbahs; heavy white canvas caidalstyle curtains hang in doorways. A protégé of Professor Odoardo Anselmi, head of the Vatican School of Mosaics, Somers de-signed the villa’s swimming pool and personally laid thousands of Murano glass and Carrara marble mosaics at the bottom. Shimmer-frig beneath the surface is an Italy-Moroccan landscape reminiscent of the work of Claude Lorrain.
A Former Harem
An American from Missississippi, designer Bill Willis moved to Morocco from Europe, where he worked in the 1960s. Among the first foreigners to settle deep in the Marrakesh medina, Willis bought and restored Dar Noujoun, House of the Stars, on the Rue Sebaatourigel. The harem of a royal palace, it is next to an Arab cemetery where the stern warning Interdit Aux Non-Muslemans (“For-bidden to Non-Moslems”) is painted forbiddingly on a crumbling wall. Known for his skill in adapting traditional high-style Hispano-Moorish architecture to Western tastes, the multitalented expatriate triggered a revival. Over the last twenty years, he has designed new and restored old properties throughout Marrakesh for a roster of clients that includes the Paul Gettys, Alain Delon, Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Berge, and Marie-Helene de Rothschild. He also serves as a design consultant to members of the royal family of Morocco. Entered through a nondescript alley and up an inside stair with risers of glazed blue, black, and yellow tiles, Willis’s own retreat is well known to hundreds of visitors to Morocco. Round-the-clock invitations to lunch, dinner, or cocktails allow friends and friends of friends to see one of the most superb restorations of a residence in Morocco. First-time viewers are immediately struck by the house’s fanciful Moroccan tile fireplaces and shiny tadelakt walls, both Willis trademarks. Originally used in hammams, or baths, tadelakt is a Moroccan wall treatment that combines plaster, sand, and natural coloring, polished to a high sheen with smooth stones and hand soap. Tadelakt walls in oxblood, rust, gray, tan, and yellow are especially popular in Marrakesh. But Willis’s acclaimed courage with color extends to the aubergine, turquoise, mustard, crimson, navy blue, and green trim that outlines several doors along an entrance hall. The hall leads to a living room lit by candles at night, scented with sandalwood, and filled with Moroccan and European antiques. “When I first saw the room, which is twenty by twenty feet, I was amazed to realize it was square, not long and narrow like most Moroccan rooms. It was enough to make me buy the house,” Willis recalls. In the dining room, exposed layers of very thin bricks are alternate shades of mustard, burgundy, and beige. A dining table at Western height reveals Willis’s refusal to sit cross-legged on the floor Moroccan-style. “I did it for years, but I’m back to my old American ways,” he admits. “Tradition is fine, but it is the comfort that counts.”
Unlike many nations, Morocco has kept alive its centuries-old arts and crafts. In fact, the country’s current craft renaissance began under King Hassan II, who reigned from 1961 to 1999, and who promoted a worldwide focus on Moroccan design. A visit to the much-lauded Tishka Hotel, designed by Tunis-born architect Charles Boccara and opened in 1986, reveals some of the finest examples of Moroccan artistic skills. The interior is designed by American Bill Willis who lives in Marrakesh, and whose clients are located around the globe. Ceiling and wall decoration, furniture, fireplaces, hardware, dinnerware, light fixtures, lanterns, fabrics-everything in the Tishka’s public rooms and guest rooms have come from the multi-talented and widely acclaimed designer, who also skillfully directed their manufacture in Morocco.
“BALEK, BALEK!” “MAKE WAY, MAKE WAY!” Cries are heard as mule trains weave through souks, or markets, in every small village and large town in Morocco. They are all things to all people. A labyrinth of small shops, a souk is a boutique, flea market, recycling center, supermarket, department store, open-air reception with receiving line, circus, sideshow, and mob scene all at the same time. Shaded by loose reed mat “ceilings” that slash the air with dusty shadows and bright bars of scorching sunlight, the serpentine alleys and dead ends of a souk are lined with shops, each with its own specialty: rugs, copperware, furniture, kitchenware, silk tassels, herbal medicines, slippers, and antique windows and doors. Burlap bags overflow with cardamom, cumin, and coriander. There are mounds of mint, pickled olives, and dates. Wooden crates spill over with citrus. Fresh loaves of bread arc stacked up like poker chips. Clothing racks dip low from the weight of men’s djellabas and bur-nooses and women’s caftans. The souk in Fez is the oldest, most medieval, most replete with traditional Moroccan handicrafts. With the largest selection of fine rugs, antique Berber jewelry, and pots from the Sahara, the souk in Marrakesh is the most frenzied and most touristy. The Marrakesh souk also offers a good deal more than shopping. Here each evening, entertainers turn the Place Djemaa El Fna into one of the greatest shows on earth. Sorcerers, comedians, story-tellers, wrestlers, boxers, snake charmers, and acrobats join forces to produce a ten-ring circus, one that has been going on daily for centuries. “In the beginning,” it is said, “there was the Djemaa El Fna.”
The first-time visitor to Morocco may be dazzled by the colorful and courageous combinations of tiles, plasterwork, and painted surfaces on walls, doors, shutters, ceilings, and floors in private houses and hotels as well as in the arches and on pathways leading into buildings. But Moroccans have traditionally relied on the decoration of walls, ceilings, and floors to “furnish” a house. A proverb explains why Moroccans have always made the courtyards, reception rooms, and living areas of their homes rich in ornate details. They are adherents of the belief that “the first thing one should own is home; and it is the last thing one should sell, for a home is one’s tomb this side of heaven.” This combines with the belief of Abu `Ivan, a 14th-century homeowner: “That which is beautiful is not dear at any cost, and that which pleases man cannot be too expensive.”
Moroccans are master of painted wood and gypsum, or plaster of Paris, surfaces. Following the Prophet’s command not to depict humans, they paint trees, elaborate and stylized flower bouquets, ingeniously varied motifs of sinuous vines, leaf-shaped arabesques, and inanimate objects. Ornate, colorful, abstract Islamic designs with strong mathematical symmetry are rendered b, artists who seek to transport viewers into a state of uplifted thought. Berber painters too are adept at painting on wood. Rich in symbolism and conveying ancient mystical messages, Berber painted surfaces are abstract; and because Berbers are less likely to adhere to the strictures of Islamic design, their painted surfaces are a great deal more personal and often combine unexpected colors. Firm believers that a wooden piece is not finished until it is covered with decorations, Moroccan homeowners and designers keep the country’s Zawwaca, or painters on wood, in heavy demand. Each job is different. Like their ancestors, Moroccan Zawwaga today spend weeks, even months, working on wooden cupolas, al-coves, doors, and ceilings in private houses and new hotels. Like all skilled craftsmen and artisans in Morocco, painters work under a Maallem, or master craftsman. Some stand up while painting; others sit cross-legged. They hold their brushes, which are made out of hair from donkey tails, vertically, their wrists supported by their left hands to allow fingers to be completely supple. Colors are applied first; the outlines that emphasize contours come later. To the distress of purists, the natural, vibrant egg-yolk-based colors of the past reminiscent of the brilliance seen in medieval manuscripts have given way to the strident colors of modern-day chemical paints. Workers in gypsum or plaster of Paris are equally respected in Morocco for their technical and artistic skills. After a specialist has drawn endlessly repeated motifs of squares, circles, triangles, stylized stars, almonds, flowers, even scallop shells, plasterwork artists, or Ghabbar, carve reliefs in four or five layers, both on the surface of a wall and in hollowed-out details that vary in depth. Plaster of Paris in Morocco is either left its natural eggshell color or polychromed in vibrant primary colors.
Decorative as well as structural and architectural, Moroccan handmade tiles arc among the most colorful in the world. De-rived from Byzantine and Roman mosaics, zelliges, or wall tiles, arc Morocco’s great specialty, both in the skill with which they are made and because of the expertise with which they are laid. Traditionally, they have been used for inside decoration in wall panels, staircases, archways, and columns. Today, foreign designers order zelliges to be made in their own colors and shapes and use them in tables, fireplaces, picture frames, even chairs. Moroccan tile production has long been centered in Fez. Adhering to the centuries-old process, local clay is thrown into basins carved in the ground and is then mixed with water. After a twenty-four-hour stabilizing period, an ajjan, or mixer, kneads the clay. He eliminates any stones, bits of wood, or other foreign dements. Next, a Fakkkhar, or work-man, molds the clay into rectangular slabs that arc dried in the sun, coated with different colored glazes, and fired. The ovens are heated with wood, grasses, and crushed olive pits, and the temperature inside will reach eight hundred degrees. The unique aspect of making zelliges begins next. A designer traces the outline of the pieces to be cut out of the tile slab. He makes his design with an Ud el Khizran, or bamboo stick dipped in ink. Andre Paccard displays more than 350 different shapes and sizes in his book Traditional Islamic Craft in Moroccan Architecture. Some are so small, 150 can fit on a matchbook cover.
The final and most delicate step is the actual cutting out of the zelliges from the slab. This is the work of a Taksir, or tile cutter, who uses a hammer that has been sharpened on both sides. Filed smooth and sorted according to shape, size, and color, the zelliges are then taken to the job site and laid into patterns by a Maallem. Traditional patterns, with such evocative names as hen’s feet, di-vided tears, little tambourine, and heifer’s eyes, are most common. But contemporary adaptations of traditional Islamic designs are beginning to be introduced. Regard-less, the patterns must always conform to the Islamic geometric grid. The result is that Moroccan tile designs cannot be judged by the originality of the design but by the combinations of colors and the flair with which the Maallem has depicted crescents, triangles, stars, lozenges and squares.
A Contemporary Renovation
Moroccans and foreigners alike are rediscovering Tangier’s centuries-old international appeal. Ideally located for weekend excursions across the Mediterranean to nearby Spain, the city offers a unique Moroccan-European life-style. Former king, Hassan II renovated a palace in Tangier. So too has a princess from the Middle East. Add to the list Mina and Salah Balafrej from Rabat. Expatriate American designer Stewart Church helped the couple reinterpret an existing modern house on Sharf Hill, overlooking the harbor. With Church’s renovation, it has become one of Morocco’s most dramatic contemporary private residences. Of special significance are the ‘houses’ windows, doors, and latticework. Here it is clear that con-temporary homeowners are beginning to embellish their houses’ exteriors. Knowing that Moroccans in the 19th century were fond of bright colors, the Church convinced the Balafrejs to look back in time and be equally bold. The house’s formal Moroccan reception room with its striking red Tadelakt walls is a tour de force of neo-Islamic design. Other rooms contain Moroccan and European furniture arrangements—new and old—which combine to make the Balafrej house one of the freshest and sophisticated mixes of traditional Moroccan and Western design in the country.
A bit of Old England
In the late 1940’s, David Herbert, son of the fifteenth earl of Pembroke, moved permanently from Wilton, his ancestral home in England, to Tangier. The doyen of the city’s international foreign colony, he remembers the 1950s and 1960s, when Tangier was a mecca for hedonists anxious to experience the go-for-broke pleasures of North Africa; and he appreciates that times have changed. Tangier is now a quiet haven for cosmopolites grateful to live comfortably and privately—in Morocco yet within sight of Europe. Caroubia, Herbert’s rambling two-story Provençal-style pink house—with shutters painted a startling Matisse turquoise—was the retreat of the 19th-century mystic Sidi Amar. It is set in La Montaigne, a popular residential area where the king and several foreign princes and princesses have palaces. One passes through arched Moroccan doorways into what is otherwise a very European household. Like other Tangier houses owned by European expatriates who surrounded themselves with the familiar, Caroubia makes few concessions to its Moroccan location. Indeed, Herbert’s cozy, chintz-filled rooms are full of mainly English furniture as well as paintings by Van Dyck, Reynolds, Augustus John, Cecil Bea-ton, Claudio Bravo, and Rex Whistler. The 18th- and 19th-century English chairs, sofas, bureaus, picture and mirror frames are gilded, lacquered, and often carved. “Directoire, regency, rococo, and chinoiserie—I love them all. It’s hard to choose,” says Herbert. The surprise is the palette. Walls of egg-yolk yellow, lime green, and Rajastan pink all testify to Herbert’s exuberant style. “White is so boring,” he confides.
Beneath Morocco’s cloudless blue skies are bone-white towns and multicolored fishing ports. The same landscape can be a tapestry of bright wildflowers in spring and a monotonous carpet of stubble in summer. Stalls in the souks spill over with multihued fruits and vegetables. Woven baskets mix colors that clash brilliantly. Tiles offer a kaleidoscope of color. Tradition-steeped artisans in Morocco continue to demonstrate an innate color sense as compelling today as it was to Matisse in the early 20th century. Palace throne rooms, Berber houses in the Atlas, bolts of cloth in Chaouen, sugar cones wrapped in paper, women’s veils and caftans, men’s leather slippers—there is color everywhere in Morocco. It is in tiles, in fabrics, and on walls, shutters, and doors. Subtle and soft, bold and bright, color is part of Morocco’s magic.
Certain landmark buildings in the world do not need street addresses; everyone knows where and what they are. La Mamounia is one of them. Say the name and travelers’ eyes instantly light up. They know it is a hotel in Marrakesh, an acclaimed hotel with an astonishing history, a Moorish-style hotel with Art Deco features, a hotel with phenomenal gardens. For those fortunate enough to check into La Mamounia, it is a step back into Moroccan history. The story begins in the 18th century when an extraordinary park outside the kasbah in Marrakesh—one of Morocco’s four Imperial Cities—was given as a wedding present to Prince Moulay Mamoun by his parents Sultan Sidi Muhammad and Lalla Fatima. Named after the prince, Arset el Mamoun was famous for its beauty and for the frequent festivities that were held there to entertain royal guests.
It became clear in the 1920s that Marrakesh needed a glamorous hotel to host European travelers. The park was the obvious site. Under the direction of European architects, La Mamounia was built by French, Italian and Moroccan craftsmen to showcase the finest Moroccan and Art Deco design and furniture. Its doors opened in 1923, and guests have included film stars, royalty, and heads of state. Regularly renovated over the last half-century, La Mamounia has mercifully maintained its historic integrity. Burled wood and marquetry panels appear throughout the dimly lit lobby. Stepping from the hotel’s mirrored dark-wood and glass elevators, guests open doors to rooms that are reminiscent of a pasha’s palace. A night in the Churchill Suite evokes a more Anglo-Saxon atmosphere. In homage to Sir Winston, who was a frequent guest, an easel displays a replica of one of his many paintings of the hotel’s famous gardens. Sprawled across 20 acres, cared for by 34 full-time gardeners and designed in formal Moroccan style, La Mamounia’s semitropical gardens intoxicate strollers with blossoming orange and lemon trees, thousands of rose bushes, and masses of bright mimosa. Nightingales and turtledoves nest in the palm trees that line the pathways between herbaceous gardens planted with stock, snap-dragons, and hollyhocks. Over the top of the bougainvillea-covered walls, the distant, snowcapped mountains of the High Atlas provide an impressive backdrop to this North African Shangri-la.
bright blue. Antique Moroccan doors inside the house reemphasize the Levys’ insistence on historic local authenticity. With herringbone floors of terra-cotta, burnt umber, and olive-colored baby bricks, the living room has coffee tables made from native thuya wood from Essaouira. Off-white muslin is used both for curtains and to cover modem sofas. The “Berber country” look continues in an adjacent guest-house. Entered through dazzling blue doors, bedrooms full of antique handpainted furniture are off an all-white courtyard the floor of which is covered with bright yellow-and-blue tiles. “The house is exactly what we wanted. It is barefoot, Moroccan country,” the Levys are happy to “The way we live in Marrakesh is a happy Casablanca and Paris.”
A North African Paradise
The Villa Oasis. The name is perfect, ring the bell, wait the hot sun for the elderly retainer to swing open the gate, step inside out of the sight and sound of honking traffic, chattering pedestrians, and yelling vendors. Instantly, the cacophony of teeming Marrakesh is gone, replaced by serenity, a peace, and astonishing beauty. You are inside the walls of the world-famous Moroccan hideaway of Paris couturier Yves Saint Laurent and his business partner Pierre Berge. Born and brought up in Algiers, Saint Laurent’s life-long passion for Islamic culture burst into architectural and horticultural bloom when he and Berge bought the former villa and garden of French artist Jacques Majorelle. Madly in love with Marrakesh and all things Moroccan, Majorelle arrived in the country in 1917 and remained until his death in 1962. Soon afterward, Saint Laurent and Berge with the help of Marrakesh designer Bill Willis and Parisian designer Jacques Granges set about restoring the 1924 villa into a Marrakesh bolt hole of magnificent design, which includes Islamic-inspired pieces by Saint Laurent and Willis. Furniture, fabrics, paintings, rugs, ceilings, doorways everything in the villa is a statement to an arrestingly exotic taste set off by dazzling surroundings.
It is the adjacent Majorelle Garden, however, that most people exclaim over. Open to the public, it is a one-acre North African botanical paradise that has been restored and expanded by Saint Laurent with breathtaking daring. The garden’s bougainvillea-covered adobe walls, Moorish-and Art Deco-inspired buildings, and raised flowerbeds of nasturtiums are painted a strong hard blue, known as “bleu Majorelle.” Large terracotta pots, painted pale yellow, green and blue and spilling over with flamingo-colored geraniums, are strategically placed along crisscrossing paths of beaten red earth and tile steps that are colored hot blue and chili green. Carp and goldfish streak through pools full of water lilies and papyruses. Dappled sunlight comes and goes through the luxuriant swaying foliage of towering and often rare bamboo, palm trees, agaves, and cacti.
In the old times, when studio factories stretched across LA under a harshly blue sky, the conclusion of production on one movie was almost indistinguishable from the final periods of the movie that had been completed a week earlier or the movie that would be done 2 weeks after.
Casablanca ended production on August 3, 1942, eleven days behind schedule.
Nobody was disappointed that the film was finally done. Majority of the actors were not fond of each other. Michael Curtiz, the director, had been vicious, as always, to his staff and talent actors. The fighting made it unmanageable to shoot real airplanes, so Humphrey Bogart had said farewell to Ingrid Bergman in Warner Bros. Stage 1, before a plywood plane with the atmospheric fog pumped in to disguise the phoniness. The movie had began in May and the screenwriters were still writing new speeches in mid July. It made the actors edgy. Although Bergman always managed to hide her anxiety, Bogart lashed out. Casablanca was just one of the four movies he would make in 1942, and he had had much more fun on across the pacific.
Bergman had taken the part of Ilsa Lund in Casablanca only for the reason that she’d been rejected for the role she really liked- Maria in Paramount’s film version of Hemingway’s Spanish Civil War novel For Whom the Bell Tolls. To Bergman, who lived to work, any role was better than none, but she had been playing docile, love-torn women like Ilsa for years. Even then, Bergman was hungry for Academy Awards, and David O. Selznick, the producer who owned her contract, had assured her that Maria, the Spanish girl who had been raped by the Falangists before she joined a partisan band in the mountains, would win her one. When Bergman finished working Zorina was Maria, but Paramount was having second thoughts. For days the Los Angeles Times had been printing rumors that Zorina’s hold on the role was shaky. The movie had been in production for ten days, and Zorina seemed too much the ballerina to be believable as a peasant girl who could climb the hills like a mountain goat.
During that hot morning on the Warner Bros. back lot, Bergman was waiting for the telephone call that would tell her whether she was to replace Zorina. The call came while Bergman and Paul Henreid were posing for publicity photographs. According to her diary, when the phone in the Warner Bros. picture gallery rang, it was David Selznick who told her that she will play the role Maria. Bergman never felt much happier after her time with Swedish Royal Dramatic Theatre. To Henreid, her shout of triumph was that of a tigress who has made a kill. Henreid had been working with Bergman for nearly two months, but it was only at this last moment that he pierced her shield of sweet docility and understood “how she had managed to get ahead in Sweden and in the Hollywood jungle.” Surfeited with victory, Bergman barely gave Casablanca another thought.
Six other movies were shooting at Warner Bros. the week that Casablanca ended. Casablanca was neither the most important nor the most expensive. Its final cost of $1,039,000 was considerably more than Warner Bros. would have spent four years earlier but relatively modest for an A film in 1942. Of the seven pictures filling the Warner Bros, stages in early August, only Princess O’Rourke was cheaper. Air Force was in production for ninety-nine days and cost $2,646,000. Edge of Darkness, with the studio’s top star, Errol Flynn, and The Adventures of Mark Twain cost over $1,500,000 each. Watch on the Rhine, based on a play by Lillian Hellman, was to be the studio’s prestige movie for 1943, the movie that would carry Warners’ hopes for Academy Awards. Even The Desert Song, Sigmund Romberg’s 1926 operetta dragged out of storage and dressed up with Nazi villains, cost $1,148,000. Casablanca finished on August 3, and Edge of Darkness took over the soundstages on August 4. “One in and one out,” as Rick Blaine would state at the time Ilsa Lund returned back into his life. Rick Blaine said lot of things, and college students who weren’t born when he said them would shout his words back at the screen twenty years later The Germans wore gray; you wore blue.” “We’ll always have While this picture was being taken, Ingrid Bergman was waiting for the call that would get the role she really wanted.
Paris. “I’m no good at being noble, but it doesn’t take much to see t the problems of three little people don’t amount to a hill beans in this crazy world.”
By the time John F. Kennedy ran for President and Harvard students sat in the Brattle Theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and chanted Rick’s words, the war that had formed the context for Casablanca was just another chapter in American history textbooks. The movie should have been as dead as the hundreds of other melodramas that Hollywood churned out during World War II at best, Rick Blaine should have been exiled to film classes as an interesting example of The Cynical Idealist-a common film protagonist during the late 1930s and early 1940s. “But to be at the Brattle when Casablanca was playing was, in a small way, like being at a theater in ancient Greece watching Oedipus, says Cyrus Harvey, Jr. who co-owned the theater. “Some people came twenty-five and thirty times. The film was almost mythical, and audiences would thirty repeat lines the way they did in Greek amphitheaters.”
There are more films that are of greater quality compared to Casablanca, but there are no better films that showcased U.S.’ mythical vision of itself on the outside and moral within, able to sacrifice and present romance while not sacrificing the individualism that dominated a continent, pulling its neck out for everyone by the time situation demand heroism. There’s no other film that has so mirrored both the time it was created – the early days of the second world war -and the psychological needs of filmgoers many years later. Of course, it was an accident, that Casablanca merged a theme, an old song, half a dozen actors, and a script full of cynical dialogues and ethical certainty, into 2 hours that have set into the minds of American people. But every film is a creature created from accidents and blind choices – a mechanical monster constructed of camera angles, the chemistry between actors, too little money or too much, and a thousand unintended moments.
A gust of wind blew Maureen O’Hara’s wedding veil in How Green Was My Valley, giving a poignant visual coda to a sad wedding and a hint of the unhappy marriage to come. “That was wonderful storytelling,” said the screenwriter Philip Dunne.” And it was just a piece of luck for us. I tried to reproduce it when I directed 10 North Frederick, and then I realized it was a mistake to try. You can’t reproduce those accidents.”
The film was a montage of fortune – bad and good. The producer, Hal Wallis, was annoyed that Michele Morgan sought for 55,000 dollars to star in the film. Wallis insisted to Curtiz that there’s no reason to demand such amount. Wallis could and did- borrow Ingrid Bergman from David O.Selznick for $25,000. But a choice in 1992 is only made sure because of hindsight. Both the young Swedish had been successful in their first American movies. Casablanca would have been Michele Morgan’s second Hollywood film, an immediate successor to Joan of Paris. Bergman had followed Intermezzo with three mediocre movies. Ingrid Bergman became a star because of Casablanca. Would it be similar for Michele Morgan, whose Hollywood career had put to an end after 3 movies?
Composer Max Steiner hated “As Time Goes By” and convinced Wallis to permit him to replace it with his own love song. But in one timely fate, Ingrid Bergman had already cut her hair short intended for her role in “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and to reshoot the essential scenes would be impossible. Casablanca also had the luck to be made early in the war, before films had to be force-fed with patriotism, stuffed to bursting like fated American geese. And, in the Epstein twins, it had a pair of writers who tied a string to the tail of the sentiment. Did Casablanca succeed because Julius and Philip Epstein and Howard Koch were bringing rewritten scenes to the set every day or in spite of it because Ingrid Bergman was confused about what she should feel toward Paul Henreid and Humphrey Bogart or in spite of her confusion?
In later years, Bergman would get annoyed when people told her that they had loved her in Casablanca. “She was surprised and a little irritated, miffed by all the attention to that movie,” says Bergman’s oldest daughter, Pia Lindstrom. “She would always get this exasperated look. This was partly because she was terribly serious about building a character. She didn’t come from the school of improvising or going with the flow. That’s why she was piqued that something that seemed haphazard turned out to be everybody’s favorite movie.
Bogart’s reaction to the movie’s success was rather sarcastic. He enjoys mentioning to Lauren Bacall, his fourth wife, the way the studio’s head of publicity, Charles Einfeld, had the incredible admission that the actor had sex appeal. Bacall recalls Bogart saying that surely, he did nothing in the movie that I had not been made in 20 films before that, and suddenly they’d discover he’s sexy. Any man has sex appeal.
It was a hot summer, although the heatwave that had choked the San Fernando Valley during July lessened in August. Landlocked, Warner Bros, was always a roasting pan. The studio’s chief rivals Paramount, 20th Century-Fox, and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer were on the far side of the mountains, the cool side. If you climbed high enough at M-G M, you could even see the ocean six miles away. But Warners was all heat, metaphorically as well as physically. It was almost as though the studio were in the heat: edgy, intense, feverish, throbbing with urgency. Songwriter Harry Warren described the M-G-M of that era as a garden and compared Warners to prison, the made in s SUg sam m nCaeaanecs the A on Norwegian vi all rat-a-tat-tat machine-gun rhythm.
That was the rhythm of the studio and its movies. Dozens of Warner movies were torn from the morning headlines. Let a gangster be shot, coal miners go on strike, truck drivers or taxi drivers war with City Hall or crooked union officials, and Warner Bros. was there to make the news into fiction almost before the ink had dried. As late as 1942, itinerant crop pickers fought with a packing company’s hired thugs in Warners’ Juke Girl
It’s likely that one of the seven other major studios might have bought and made a movie from Everybody Comes to Rick’s, an unproduced play about a cynical American who owns a bar in Casablanca. It would not be the same film, not just due to Gary Cooper would have starred at Paramount, or Tyrone Power at Fo,x Clark Gable at M-G-M, but for the reason that a different studio approach would have been more lethargic, less satirical, or lavishly Technicolored. Like the other studios, Warners produced melodramas, musicals, tear jerkers, and costume epics, but each studio made them on different subjects and in different styles. One effect of the war was to mash the subjects and styles together into a generic war film. Earlier, even Warner films with hoop skirts or swordplay had a rawness and social or political edge that the other studios were uninterested in copying. At the same time that Warners tackled syphilis in Dr. Ehrlich’s Magic Bullet in 1940, M-G-M created two biographies of Thomas Edison and one of Johann Strauss.
In 1942, among the studios. at that time, Warner. Bros. was the most economical as there were few waste. World War II gave Harry Warner, the studio’s president, a reason to get the nails abandoned by uncaring carpenters. Over half of the Warner films produced in 1942 presented the war in many ways, a jackpot for actors who run from Berlin or Vienna. Casablanca was full of Jewish refugees, a lot of them played Nazis.
Of the seven pictures being shot during the first week of August, four concerned the underground Resistance-symbolized by a Czech patriot in Casablanca, the American leader of the Riff tribe in The Desert Song, a Norwegian village in Edge of Darkness, and an anti -Nazi German in Watch on the Rhine. The real war movies would come later, when there were victories to celebrate. In the summer of 1942, there were mostly defeats. By ant Henry David Mark, the brother of two studio employees, had been killed in March on the Bataan peninsula in the Philippines. And Warners, more than any other studio, had joined hands with the government and agreed to the kind of censorship the industry had been fighting since the first nickelodeons. Eventually and grudg- ingly Warnerswould have to hire girl messengers (“Because there was nothing else to do” when “the situation became desperate, reported the Warner Club News). But in 1942 the unions still refused to train women as electricians and carpenters despite the fact that week by week during that first summer of the war the men-actors directors, writers, and craftsmen-were leaving. In subtle ways, the war helped to destroy the studio system. When cameramen and actors marched home as captains and majors , they would have less
tolerance for the tyranny of the seven-year contracts they had lef Like most pictures, Casablanca ended with a whimper. The movies troublesome climax-written and rewritten and rewritten once again-had been shot in mid-July. On that last day in early August, Bergman and Henreid spent forty minutes on the French Street, doing the silent pickup shots that are the movie equivalent of sweep ing up. Curtiz filmed them from the point of view of Fumphrey Bogart, who was already down in Newport on his boat. The rest of the day, Curtiz dressed the street with seventy-nine extras from Central Casting and shot refugees running from the police in the first behind scenes of the movie The other actors had scattered. Bogart had retreated into a stale and hostile marriage. During the shooting of Casablanca, his alco holic wife, Mayo Methot, had accused him of having an affair with Ingrid Bergman. Mayo always prowled the sets of Bogart’s movies, inventing liaisons that didn’t exist. Her jealousy fed Bogart s surli ness, and he spent most of his time on the set of Casablanca alone in his canvas dressing room, or playing a solitary game of chese Actors had little control over their destinies. Bogart loved ch because there was no luck to the game Claude Rains had returned to his farm in Pennsylvania; Conrad Veidt to the nearest golf course; Dooley Wilson to a small white stucco house in Hollywood; Peter Lorre and Sydney Greenstreet to a month’s vacation before they started another Warner Bros. Spy melodrama, Background to Danger. Three weeks later Curtiz would shoot a new scene, a police official announcing the murder of two German couriers, to add some drama to the movie’s first few moments. And Bogart would record a new last line. Hal Wallis wrote the line himself. Actually, he wrote two alternative lines: “Luis,* I might have known you’d mix your patriotism with a little larceny” and “Luis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship Wallis was a cool and distant man, but he was admired, even by writers, as a story editor. He crossed out the more cynical line and sent the second one to Curtiz. When Bogart recorded it, he could not have imagined that the words he was reciting would become one of the most famous last lines in movie history or that, because of Casablanca he would replace Errol Flynn as Warners’ top box-office star.
Nor could anyone at Warner Bros. have imagined that Casablanca so much creature during of its time and place, defined by the sentiments of war for which and during which it was made, would remain meaningful to audiences sixty years later. In 1941 Warner Bros, sent 48 movies into the theaters it owned. In 1942, as the scarcity of actors, materials, and technicians began to be felt, Casablanca was one of only 33 Warner films to make that journey.
The movie opened at one theater in New York on Thanksgiving Day, November 26, 1942. to take advantage of the fact that Ameri troops had landed in North Africa and the city of Casablanca the headlines, In all other ways Casablanca, which had originally scheduled for the next spring, was a 1943 movie. It didn’t play in any other city until January 23, The Film Daily Yearbook lists it as 1943 petted for the 1943 Academy Awards.
Ingrid Bergman had drifted into Casablanca, but she had fought Maria and, whatever the verdict of history, Paracourt is not quite level and weeping willows. “I’ve o Alorehe says. “We were for the role mount’s For Whom the Bell Tolls was the office in 1943, selling nearly $11 million worth of tickets. 20th Century-Fox’s Song of Bernadette was second, with ticket sales of $7 runaway leader at the box million. Casablanca did well financially. Ticket sales of $3.7 million put the movie in seventh place. and it did well with the most movies but that people can’t find in In The New York Times Bosley Crowther called it “a picture which makes the spine tingle and the heart take a leap.” In, Ticket sales of $3.7 million keeping with the proprieties of the time, praised the movie for its political correctness. “Splendid anti-Axis propaganda,” said the Hollywood trade paper Variety. The liberal New York paper PM called the movie “an exciting film built around an exciting new idea… that leaders of Europe’s anti-Fascist underground are terribly important people these days, rating priorities ahead of even millionaires and playboys in such traditional number of reviewers specialties of old Casablanca as stolen passports.
There was some dissent, mostly in the highbrow magazines The ‘Casablanca’ kind of hokum was good in its original context in other movies, but, lifted into Casablanca for the sake of its glitter and not incorporated into it, loses its meaning,” Manny Farber wrote in The New Republic. The New Yorker called the film “pretty tolerable” although not up to Across the Pacific, Humphrey Bogart’s last picture. In The Nation, James Agee, one of the few reviewers who is still respected today, first offered grudging praise: “Apparently Casablanca, which I must say I liked, is working up a rather serious reputation as a fine melodrama. Why? It is obviously an improvement on one of the world’s worst plays, but it is not such an improvement that that is not obvious.” A year later Agee reappraised: “Casablanca is still reverently spoken of as (1) fun, (2) a ‘real movie. I still think it is the year’s clearest measure of how willingly faute de mieux, people will deceive themselves. Even Jeannie, hardly a movie at all, was better fun.
Howard Koch, one of the movie’s three main screenwriters, has another view. In the summer of 1989, he stares out at the stream and woods that form the backyard of his house in upstate New York. At eighty-eight, he still plays croquet before cocktails, bcasaut the croquet court is not quite level and sometimes a ball gets entangled in the weeping willows. “I’ve got almost a mystical feeling about Casablanca,” he says. “That it made itself somehow. That it needed to be made and that we were all conveyers on the belt, taking it there. A woman called me up a couple of weeks ago and said, ‘I tracked you down because I had to tell you that I’ve just seen Casablanca for the forty-sixth time, and it means more to me than anything in my life.’ It’s just a movie, but it’s more than that. It’s become something that people can’t find in values today. And they go back to Casablanca as they go back to church, political church, to find something that is gone from our values today.” When Koch says that Casablanca made itself, he holds out his hands, palms up, and cupped as though he has dipped them in the stream.
Views-he calls them “progressive”-that sent him into exile during the 1950s. Mother Jones and a disarmament newsletter sit on his coffee table. “I’m just part of the chain,” he says. “I’m not important in it. None of us are. But we’re important as links in the chain.” That chain was wound tightly around the 135 acres of the Warner Bros. First National studio in Burbank. Koch was neither the first nor the last link. With appropriate symmetry for a movie that encapsulated both the idealism that Americans brought to World War private lives that the and th renunciation war brought to them, Casablanca officially entered the studio system on December 8, 1941, the day after Pearl Harbor was bombed by the Japanese, and departed, draped with an Academy Award for best picture, in the spring of 1944, when the Allies were poised to invade western Europe and the studios were decisively turning their backs on the war and planning movies for the peace to come. Casablanca had done more than was expected. It had made money improved careers, won awards, and given Jack Warner something to boast about. It was put in a vault and forgotten.
Must read: Behind the Scenes: Casablanca, the Movie
The Modern Casablanca Morocco
The city of Casablanca was given its much-deserved spotlight in the film similar to the city’s name featuring Hollywood star Humphrey Bogart. The place’s actual establishment was in 1906 and had a populace of roughly 20,000 individuals. At present, the city prides its populace of more than 4 million and, as the main reflection of the Kingdom of Morocco, it takes after a Southern European city more than whatever remains of the urban areas in the nation itself. Casablanca is presumably the most liberal and dynamic of the greater part of Morocco’s urban areas and it is normal to see young ladies clad in branded products and men brandishing suits, ties, and satchels.
Otherwise called Dar el Baida or just Casa, the city of Casablanca is the capital city of Morocco. It is the primary passageway and exit for most travel guests to the nation, whether coming from Europe or the United States of America. With a lot of spots to settle on any budget plan inside and around the city, guests will discover it a great vacation spot that includes some shopping, food adventures, a lot of nightlife, and a considerable measure of unwinding.
The modern Casablanca is the country’s center in all means except ceremonial. The booming city is the nation’s biggest, with a populace running to 4 million, the dominant part of whom are just first or second era occupants. Casa, as the city is famously called, is the new city, having developed from a little town with less than a thousand populations just 150 years back. The pilgrims are coming even up to present, drawn by the desire for finding a vacation, lodging, and a superior life than what provincial Morocco can offer. Some successfully make their fortune and the better standard of living on Casa’s boulevards and in it’s in vogue bars and foodie hangouts give the impression of a city in southern Europe.
For explorers, modern and cosmopolitan Casa never disappoint. The veil is hardly observed here, and the blending of men and ladies is the most open of anyplace in the country. With its little medina without any of the unusual environment of the nation’s better-known old urban communities and a shortage of sights bar the fabulous Hassan II Mosque, numerous explorers go through Casa with just a short peek or even avoid the city totally. The individuals, who stay, in any case, discover the city develops on them, offering a decent selection of fine eateries, a couple of spots to relax and appreciate a drink, and a buzz of a city stepping forward.
Tourists from N. America or Europe will not likely to encounter any problem in the city. Aside from the fact that Casablanca, being the main population center and heart of trade, most of the area is less than fifty years old and might simply be confused with LA or Madrid. In Morocco, food is very much like European taste, with pizzas and hamburgers as frequently as tajines and couscous. In other parts of the city like Maarif and Gironde districts, getting a glimpse of a man in a djellaba or a donkey pulling a cart of vegetables are uncommon. If even the trappings of Moroccan culture such as these are too much for you, any hotel bar or restaurant is going to be just like home for a few hours.
The easygoing explorer, generally limited to the downtown area, won’t be presented to quite a bit of this inner conflict. Traveler and business leader Mohamed Dekkak of Morocco stated that Casablanca’s downtown area is encountering a mini-boom, with new inns going up, old ones being revamped, and a perpetually growing food scene. There’s most likely Casablanca does not have the appeal of some different urban areas and districts, yet taken for what it is, this present-day city could be viewed as a genuine impression of today’s Morocco.
Twentieth Century Casablanca: During the Colony
In 1913, the French community in Dar el Beida was furious when Resident-General Lyautey announced that Rabat was to become the capital of ‘French’ Morocco. Since far more Europeans lived in Casablanca than in Rabat, most French had expected that the capital city would be established in the heart of the French community. How- ever, the protests and uproar in the streets, which followed, did not change Lyautey’s plans. The insurgents needed to content themselves with the fact that the colonial administration now resided in Rabat. From a political point of view, Casablanca would become the second city in the country. To play down the frustration among the European settlers, Casablanca was named the economic capital of Morocco. Indeed, the city was destined to become an international center of commerce and industry. This was, primarily, the result of Lyautey’s decision to build the largest artificial ocean port on the African continent in Casablanca.
However, at the start of the Protectorate, it had not been sure that the long-planned port, designed to facilitate the exploitation of ‘French-Morocco,’ would be located in Dar el Beida. Due to Casablanca’s challenging coastline, the French navy preferred Mazagan (El Jadida) and Fédala (Mohammedia) above Dar el Beida. At the same time, other interested parties pointed at Rabat, the new national capital, which had better sea access.
If Lyautey had followed any of this advice, Casablanca would probably never have become a metropolis. However, the authoritarian Lyautey was never going to follow his subordinates’ ideas and decided, against all opposition, to build the large ocean port in Casablanca. In retrospect, this decision ensured that Casablanca’s status as an economical spot within the Moroccan state was secured for the rest of the century.
The port at Dar el Beida resulted in a large-scale accumulation of labor, capital, and entrepreneurship that, within a few decades, transformed Casablanca from a semi-rural backwater into an international business center. Thanks to the port, Dar el Beida became the central transfer hub between Morocco and the rest of the world. These favorable conditions led the colonial administration to develop Casablanca into a multi-way intersection of roads and railways. After all, it was essential to link Dar el Beida’s marine harbor with the main cities of Morocco and it raw-material producing zones, to aid international trade and transport. To this day, the common roads and railways of Morocco lead to Casablanca.
Thanks to the construction of Casablanca’s port, the superb infrastructural facilities, and the immigration of wealthy and dynamic Europeans and Jews, Casablanca’s trade started to flourish in an unprecedented way. In the 1930s, 82 percent of Morocco’s international commerce passed through Casablanca. Given these conditions, it is not strange to observe that most of Morocco’s companies established their headquarters in the country’s economic heart. The settlement of the so-called L’Office Chérifien des Phosphates (OCP) is a case in point. Although the region of Khouribga is where phosphate was largely extracted, the development company’s headquarters were installed in Casablanca. Morocco became the world’s largest phosphate producer, which was transshipped in Dar el Beida’s ocean port. The banks followed the example of the enterprises, and they too began to settle on a large-scale basis in Casablanca. In this way, Casablanca also became Morocco’s financial nerve center. The decision to locate Morocco’s ocean port in Dar el Beida had triggered this magnificent process.
However, the port meant more to Casablanca, as it rapidly became the largest company in Morocco. In 1914, 1200 laborers were already engaged in harbor works; this number reached 2750 in 1921, and in 1925 some 4600 people were employed in Casablanca’s port. Hundreds of men were engaged in the construction of the breakwaters, docks, and other port facilities. Harbor construction, undertaken by the French industrial firm Schneider and the Compagnie Marocaine, started in 1913 and took more than two decades – mainly because of a delay caused by World War One as the capitals became spent. Still, when the project was finally completes, Casablanca owned the largest port on the African continent.
During the Protectorate, the port remained the center of Casablanca’s economy. Gradually, however, the industry also became a significant employer. Morocco’s industrialization took place, primarily, in Dar el Beida. During the early years of the Protectorate, Casablanca transformed into Morocco’s industrial hot spot, which it still holds today. In 1908, Dar el Beida’s first factory was built; more important plants were established after signing Fes’ treaty. In 1913 a lime and cement factory (Société de Chaux et Ciment) was built, and a year later, Regie Tabac was founded and remained Morocco’s leading producer of cigarettes until 2003.10 The capital for the founding of these factories was mainly of French origin. During the First World War, more plants were constructed in Casablanca; in particular, the food and building industry took root in this period. Whereas commercial firms settled mostly along Route Mediouna (today the Boulevard Mohammed VI) and Avenue Général Drude (today Avenue Hassan II), industrial plants were almost exclusively located in the city quarter Roches Noires, in the eastern part of the town. In 1914, already some 40-production units were located in Casablanca, and their number would grow continuously during the next decade. Printing offices, textile, furniture, and coachwork industries all settled in Casablanca.
However, according to Abdelkader Kaioua, the growth of industry slowed down somewhat after 1915. It was not until the end of the Second World War that industrialization began to boom again. Although Casablanca had become Morocco’s prime industrial city, the number of Moroccans engaged in the secondary sector of the economy was disappointing. In 1929, Morocco counted 800 industrial firms, of which about 600 were located in Casablanca.
However, only about 25,000 laborers were employed in these industrial firms. We may conclude, therefore, that Morocco was still an agricultural nation at this moment. In light of these figures, it is not strange that Casablanca could not absorb the ever-growing number of rural-to-urban migrants. The number of jobs created in the industry lagged far behind the number of new city dwellers arriving in Casablanca every year. Robert Escallier estimated that, between 1900 and 1926, some 41,000 rural migrants settled in Casablanca. Since many of Casablanca’s industrial workers were of European descent, it becomes clear that Dar el Beida industry was utterly unable to absorb the former peasants and agricultural laborers. Casablanca was becoming a typical ‘Third World’ metropolis since, despite rapidly rising unemployment, urban in-migration continued and even increased.
The long-term demographic effect of the construction of Casablanca’s modern artificial ocean port and the settlement of Morocco’s most important factories was a population explosion. When the French arrived in Casablanca in 1907, the city counted only about 25,000 inhabitants; when Morocco became independent, Dar el Beida was home to 900,000 people. Simultaneously, the city’s built-up area expanded from 47 hectares in 1907 to 4490 hectares in 1960. At this moment, Casablanca was larger than the city of Paris. After independence, Casablanca’s total city size grew still further, and at the end of the twentieth century, Casablanca covered some 15,000 hectares of urban space. According to the local authority, Casablanca’s city size will reach some 25,000 hectares by 2030.
While great sums of money were invested in the city’s harbor and its industry, many private investors spent their money in the real estate sector. Europeans had started commerce in building plots and large apartment complexes already in the pre-colonial period, even though Christians were, by law, not allowed to own any real property in Morocco at this time. One could ‘get rich quick’ through land speculation, since the prices of building lots rose spectacularly from 1907 onwards, as the ever-growing numbers of immigrants caused massive pressure on the housing market. By 1910, 75 hectares of land was held by the European community on which they had erected some 331 buildings. During the Protectorate, the number climbed further and further.
After 1907, the French had started to build their Ville Nouvelle, southeast of the Old Medina. Initially, there was no street plan, so the diverse houses and apartment buildings went up more or less at random, resulting in utterly unstructured city growth. Decently paved roads were a curiosity; hygiene was terrible in the absence of decent sewer systems, and the wild mix of architectural styles shocked visitors. This bewildering city growth resulted from a combination of explosive population growth and the unorganized erection of ever more significant numbers of various buildings by private initiators. In 1910, the French Lieutenant Segonds described the situation in Casablanca as follows:
“The town is spilling beyond its confines. A Negro neighborhood, comprising a heap of squalid structures, has sprung up in the vicinity of Bab-Marrakech, while warehouses and shops have sprouted around the market gate. The inner quarters are essentially Arabic in style; while sometimes show indications of semi-modern portions. Zigzagging streets with wobbly pavement, or sometimes no paving, turn into quagmires at the first drop of rain. Tiny narrow squares are wedged between low, flat-roofed houses lacking in any architectural appeal. Apart from the mosques, a handful of private dwellings and the German consulate, no monuments whatsoever can be said to attract the visitor’s gaze.”
When Lyautey inspected Casablanca in 1913, he realized that the city’s infrastructure urgently needed to be restructured and that the whole town was in want of renovation. This mission was reserved for the French architect Henri Prost, who id a similar work previously in the Belgium city of Antwerp. Prost was also surprised by what he discovered during his arrival in Casablanca.
Nevertheless, Prost managed to reshape Casablanca in an extraordinarily creative way. First, Prost created a sophisticated new road plan, which could only be brought into practice by demolishing houses and apartment blocks. Moreover, to facilitate traffic, he designed a ring road. Second, Prost introduced all kinds of hygiene measures to protect the city against large-scale epidemics. Among these measures was the planning of parks, which discouraged high population densities. In this way, a healthier environment developed. Third, Prost subdivided the city into different zones. Every zone had its function: the city quarter of Roches Noires, for example, was destined to become an industrial zone; the area of Route Ouelad Ziane was restricted to military purposes; while the Ville nouvelle was intended to be inhabited by European citizens. In this way, Henri Prost managed to bring order out of chaos. However, chaotic urban expansion persisted due to the high population growth of Muslim dwellers. Within less than a decade, significant parts of the newly built Muslim city quarters of Casablanca were also urgently needed in the renovation. For this reason, the French architect Michel Ecochard was brought to Casablanca during the last phase of the Protectorate.
During the Protectorate, Muslims, Jews and Christians lived, for the most part, in their city quarters. Nevertheless, there was never an absolute demarcation line between the quarters of these three population groups. Sometimes wealthy Moroccan Muslims settled between Europeans, while some Europeans ended up in shantytowns, mingled with Muslims. The same is true for the Jewish population. However, as previously stated, they did not intermingle on a large scale.
During the Protectorate, European settlers lived in the Ville nouvelle; however, from the 1920s on, they also started to live in residential neighborhoods further south of the city center, in the district of Mers-Sultan. In the latter part of the 1920s, the richest among the European citizens started to build their villas on a hilly site, southwest of the city, next to the Atlantic Ocean, called Anfa Supérieur (today known as Aïn Diab). In this way, the Europeans continuously ameliorated their living conditions. However, it was only the case for a tiny part of the Muslim and Jewish population. These lucky nouveaux riches did not inhabit the exclusive residential neighborhoods of the Europeans, though. Only after the Protectorate would Moroccans gradually penetrate these parts of Casablanca, when the European population started to emigrate. Before this time, wealthy Moroccans had long inhabited the New Medina. They later moved into their residential neighborhoods, of which Polo is probably the best example.
The Medina Kedima quickly became overcrowded during the Protectorate, and further extension became more or less impossible. As a result, the Medina Jedida became the new home of the ever-growing Muslim population. As André Adam notes, the roots of the new Medina are somewhat curious. The original idea for creating more extensive and better city quarters for the Muslim population with affordable rents came from a Frenchman called Biarny. This private entrepreneur convinced a wealthy Jewish friend of his, named Bendahan, to support his plans financially. At that point, Bendahan proposed to donate an immense private estate southeast of the city center to the Habous.16 However, the service of the Habous refused the generous gift, since Bendahan was not a Muslim citizen. A Muslim intermediary was required to solve the problem. The Sultan Moulay Youssef himself would finally act as the necessary intermediary, and the gigantic piece of land became subdivided into four parts. In the first part, a royal palace was erected, despite a severe housing shortage among the Muslim population. The second part of Bendahar’s donation was destined to become the home of the crown’s servants. However, on the third and fourth part of the land provided by Bendahar, Biarny’s project was realized (Adam 1968b). Yet, Derb Habous and Derb Soltane became large city quarters with a high population density and low living standard. Even today, a significant number of Casablanca’s laborers live in these parts of the city. Although French architects designed these working-class areas – mainly Cadet and Brion – the houses lacked basic needs, like private toilets and even kitchens. The living conditions of many laborers failed to improve since this big building project did not satisfy their basic requirements. That said, thousands of more laborers, still living in tents, huts, or slums, were probably dreaming of being able to afford the rent on such an apartment in the New Medina.
The commerce in real estate, which commenced quickly after 1907, soon caused significant problems as property prices increased dramatically. While some people had become rich swiftly through land speculation, it became harder for others to find living accommodation. Much of the land in the city and its surroundings were bought without building houses, apartment complexes, or business centers. Speculators just bought up ground with the expectation that its price would augment considerably shortly. When this happened, they sold their land; otherwise, they waited for better times. Precisely because of this, empty spaces in the center of the city became a common aspect of Casablanca’s cityscape until long into the twentieth century. Houses and apartments were built further and further away from the center since prices were lower there. The poorest citizens, primarily rural-to-urban migrants – fell victim to house speculation because they became unable to find accommodation for an average price. Therefore, House speculation explains, to some degree, the rise of shantytowns and insalubrious working-class areas. Another, perhaps even greater cause, however, lies in the fact that more new city-dwellers were arriving than formal jobs were created in Casablanca or houses could be built. Finally, many immigrants were unwilling to live in regular living accommodations since they were accustomed to living in huts. Some former country-dwellers seemed to prefer living in a tent, shack, or slum above life in an apartment on the 10th floor, fearing that the family’s privacy, especially of the women, was not guaranteed in such dwellings.
However, the most significant problem was, without a doubt, the fact that ever-larger numbers of rural-to-urban migrants were unable to find a job. Initially, these people pitched tents or built huts. Yet, when their financial situation did not improve, they started to make slums out of scrap materials. One of the first shantytowns to be founded in this way was Carrières Centrales. These slums, which later became a cause for the Moroccan battle for independence, were occupied by unemployed rural refugees and poor workers from the neighboring power plant Centrales Thermiques des Roches Noires. Although several attempts have been made to move the inhabitants to social housing projects, the shantytowns continue to exist, with many slums. A remarkable exception is Ben MSick, a large shantytown that disappeared completely, and its inhabitants were successfully re-housed in Hay Moulay Rachid.
At the end of the Protectorate, probably some 150,000 people were living in shantytowns. However, we would make a great mistake if we assumed that the rest of the population lived under normal conditions. According to a survey held in 1959, three years after the Protectorate, two-thirds of Casablanca’s inhabitants lived in poor, heavily overcrowded dwellings (Ferrad 1998). Moreover, the population census of 1960 indicated that Casablanca’s residences were poorly equipped: 34 percent had no kitchen, and almost half of all households had no sanitary fittings at all at their disposal. Furthermore, 8.7 percent of the homes had no electricity at their disposal, 10 percent lacked a private toilet, and a shocking 29.4 percent of households did not possess running water. A much larger proportion of Casablanca’s population lived under terrible circumstances than those housed in the slums.
The Chronicles of Emancipated Casablanca
“When France was no longer able to keep the governmental vehicle on the road, she abandoned it, leaving the motor running. The Moroccans climbed in and drove off in the same direction but with even greater speed.” Paul Bowl, 1982
During the Protectorate, Dar el Beida had become the infrastructural, industrial, commercial, and financial center of the country, attracting some two-thirds of all new investments into the country. Casablanca had become the economic heart of Morocco. This economic importance went hand-in-hand with demographic preponderance. During the Protectorate, Casablanca’s population had grown enormously. Whereas in 1907, the city had counted only 25,000 inhabitants, in 1960, Dar el Beida had become a metropolis of about one million city dwellers. In this period, Casablanca had been renovated from an ordinary Moroccan port town into the fourth city of Africa after Cairo, Alexandria, and Cape Town. The monstrous growth in population had been accompanied by a significant extension of the city’s size. In 1907, the town covered some 47 hectares; in 1936, the built-over urban area encompassed 1940 hectares, and in 1960 Casablanca had reached 4490 hectares. The following statistics give an idea of what such a vast urban surface area comprises: In 1959, Casablanca’s roads had a total length of 1100 kilometers, the sewer system counted some 650 kilometers, the water pipes 834 kilometers, and the electricity network some 1151 kilometers.
During independence, Casablanca continued its rapid growth. Today, the city has about three million inhabitants, and the city’s surface area reached 15,000 hectares in 1996. The city’s rapid expansion re-awakened a significant number of old urban problems and created some new ones. Casablanca’s street plan, for example, required rationalization again. The so-called Schéma Directeur, designed by the French architect Pinceau in 1984, encompassed the major urban reorganizations that Casablanca underwent in the post-colonial era of the twentieth century. However, the metropolis at the Atlantic Ocean also underwent political restructuring. To keep the growing metropolis governable several different political subdivisions developed during independence. The creation of the prefectures, the Wilaya, and the overarching province Grand Casablanca, as well as the shifting of communes and arrondissements, all aimed to improve Casablanca’s governability. These and other political improvements can be seen as successful, as political responsibility was redistributed in a more sophisticated way. However, urban and administrative changes did not automatically result in an improved social climate. In particular, the fate of the city’s sub-classes seems to have hardly altered.
During independence, shantytowns continued to exist, and unemployment and underemployment remained very high. The causes of these problems were not new: in the post-colonial era, Casablanca is still unable to employ, feed, and lodge a large number of the city’s inhabitants decently. The case is especially true for rural-to-urban migrants. The absence of a decent welfare system precludes a redistribution of wealth, and as a result, shantytowns continue to exist next to residential neighborhoods. The risk for potential social unrest remains high as the gap between rich and poor stays so large and confronting. Not only wealth and income but also opportunities for future success are badly distributed, and the chances for the poor may have decreased even further during independence.
Traffic chaos and the growing distance between the Ville nouvelle and the Old Medina on the one side and the new suburbs on the other side meant that the city center became less accessible than ever before. It is a fact for slum dwellers. Their dwellings were relocated time and again further away from the city center, resulting in the population becoming more marginalized. This is even truer if we consider those slum dwellers had the least financial resources at their disposal. They were often unable to take a taxi or a bus to the city center. In contrast, an exhausting walk to the Old Medina, to the labor-offering industrial districts Roches Noires, Aïn Seba, Bernoussi, took hours for many slum dwellers that lived in the southern or western parts of the city. This further decreased the slum dwellers’ chances in the labor market.
Casablanca has become a city with two different faces. On the one side, the city, with its modern ocean port, widespread industry, business centers, expensive hotels, and big shopping hubs and entertainment districts, is a place of chances, hope, and progress. On the other side, Casablanca is a place of disillusionment, embitterment, and lost hopes. Some 25 percent of the city’s population lives in shantytowns, and officially more than 20 percent is unemployed. In 1992, it was evaluated that 62,720 of Morocco’s 160,300 slum households were settled in the Région du Centre; 81.4 percent of them were located in Grand Casablanca. Dar el Beida is the city that attracted the most significant number of rural-to-urban migrants since these former peasants and agricultural laborers expected to improve their lives in this metropolis. In this way, Casablanca was a city of hope. However, given that in 1992 Casablanca had as many as 280 different shantytowns, many urban in-migrants must have become disillusioned shortly after their arrival.
The disillusionment and the embitterment are reflected in the bomb attacks of the new millennium. It is no coincidence that the attackers originated from Casablanca’s shantytowns. Since the offenders were Salafists, it was construed as rebellions against the government for its inabilitty to employ and decently house these people. The Moroccan government seems to have regularly neglected the problems of this fringe group completely. In the 1980s, for example, when King Hassan II ordered the construction of the third-largest mosque in the world in Casablanca, hundreds of millions of Moroccan Dirhams were collected in order to realize this prestigious project. If we consider that at this time, hundreds of thousands of city dwellers were living in misery, the enormous amount of money could have been used in a better way.
Nevertheless, like the French administration before, the Moroccan government has tried to find solutions for the extraordinarily high unemployment rate and Casablanca’s housing problems. It has tried to slow down rural-to-urban migration and move slum dwellers to public housing projects. However, rural-to-urban migration continued and increased even further, at least in the first decades of independence. Social housing projects were unsuccessful, as each time only part of the slum dwellers were moved, and the hovels were not destroyed, leaving them open to use again, mostly by new rural-to-urban migrants.
However, more obstacles contributed to the survival and extension of the shantytowns. Abdelmajid Ferrad mentions in his dissertation about the French policy concerning housing problems in Casablanca, for example, the post-colonial attempts to move the inhabitants of the slums of Carrières Centrales to the working-class area of Sidi Bernousi. The aim was to give all slum dwellers decent living accommodation. However, only a small number of them moved to Sidi Bernoussi. Other people with better and more secure revenues bought up the newly constructed dwellings designed to become the new homes of the former inhabitants of Carrières Centrales. Although the re-housing project began in the latter part of the 1950s, the shantytown still exists today. Corruption seems to destroy the realization of a great many programs. Bribes made it possible for ordinary citizens to buy the apartments in Sidi Bernoussi, reserved for slum dwellers alone. Corruption also appears to be destroying the ambitious government project Villes sans Bidonvilles, aiming to eradicate Casablanca’s slums before 2012.
The last problem we want to consider is the traffic problem in Casablanca. Already from the 1970s on, Casablanca’s growing population has been confronted with traffic congestion. Diverse solutions have been proposed to stop the chaos on the roads. In 1976, the first research was conducted to alleviate traffic in Casablanca. The final report of this research concluded that an extension and amelioration of public transport was necessary to improve Casablanca’s transport. It was observed that the population of Morocco’s economic capital was keen to see the construction of a metro. Several times, Casablanca’s city council announced a subway building, but a lack of money meant these plans were always delayed. However, in 2009, the Moroccan government began constructing a tramway system, which was due to open for use in 2012. The newest Schema Directeur mentions the construction of a rapid transit rail system (RER), which will link, Anfa, Bouskoura, Mohammedia and Nouaceur. Yet, the subway project has been postponed once again. According to the latest information in the Moroccan press, the subway, which aims to connect Ain Diab, the city center, and El Fida, with more remote city districts like Ben Msick, Hay Moulay Rachid, and Sidi Moumen, will not be realized before the year 2017. Nevertheless, the tram’s construction could end the isolation of the people living in Casablanca’s suburbs, provided that the ticket prices are affordable for the lower social classes. If this is the case, the living conditions of Dar el Beida’s population will improve considerably.
The start of Casablanca’s Demographic Expansion
Demographic changes on Moroccan land
The demographic changes that occurred in Casablanca during the twentieth century cannot be understood without some insight into the country’s population development as a whole. During this modern epoch of Moroccan history, three major demographic shifts took place: relocation of the population from the inland to the coastal plains, a rising urban population, and a gradual decline in, successively, mortality and fertility – the so-called ‘demographic transition,’ causing a steep rise in the total population. Casablanca’s maturation can be viewed in the light of these three interlinked demographic developments. Finally, there is a fourth demographic phenomenon – international migration – which profoundly influenced the population development of Casablanca. Attention must be given in this first section as its causes and consequences go far beyond the city’s borders.
In pre-modern times, i.e., before the arrival of the French and Spanish colonizers, the largest part of Morocco’s population was concentrated inland of the country: in the cities of Fès, Mèknes, and Marrakech and the mountainous areas of the Eastern Rif and Anti-Atlas. By contrast, the fertile coastal plains, which were more suited for agriculture, were sparsely populated. This was the domain of Arab-speaking stockbreeders and corn growers, whereas the mountainous regions were Berber-talking farmers’ homes. At least two arguments can be put forward to explain this paradoxical spatial distribution of the population. Life in the fertile coastal plains was very insecure, as foreign enemies often invaded these areas. The mountainous regions, by contrast, offered more protection, as they were easier to defend. It was not surprising, then, that many Moroccans opted for the security of life in the mountains. The second reason that the fertile coastal plains were relatively sparsely populated follows from the first. As the mountainous areas were difficult to invade, the Sultan was unable to control the people who lived there who could evade paying their taxes to the sovereign, something which was almost impossible on the coastal plains, where the Sultan’s troops could easily enter villages and cities.
As the Moroccan Sultans never managed to control all the Berber tribes of the Atlas and Rif and foreign powers kept invading coastal villages and cities, it was only during the French Protectorate that the significant population shift from the inland to the Atlantic coast commenced. At the dawn of the twentieth century, only 20.3 percent of the Moroccan population lived in the coastal regions, whereas 33.1 percent of Moroccans lived in the mountains. The French pacification transformed the littoral once and for all into safe territory. Tax avoidance in the hills became impossible as the French conquered the whole country, eventually controlling even the most remote settlements. In this way, the ancient benefits of life inland drifted away; simultaneously, overpopulation and droughts caused severe problems to agriculture, driving the people out of these regions.
The politics of Resident-General Lyautey shifted the economic heart of Morocco from Fès to Casablanca, and the administration of the country moved from Marrakech to Rabat. As a result, Morocco’s former periphery turned into the new heartland, throw- ing the whole country out of balance. Strong migration from the inland to the labor- demanding Atlantic coast was an inevitable outcome. The developing infrastructure, which brought down the costs and risks of transportation, facilitated this population movement, which continues today. Gradually the population map of Morocco was mirrored during the twentieth century. The population density of the formerly sparsely populated littoral augmented quickly. In contrast, population growth in the overcrowded inland stopped or slowed down sharply through out-migration, giving the littoral the possibility to equal and finally surpass the population density of the hinterland. At the end of the Protectorate, already one-third of Morocco’s population lived somewhere on the Atlantic coast. This percentage would climb further in the latter part of the century.
The majority of unskilled migrants from the countryside ended up in the fast-growing cities on the Atlantic coast, i.e., in Casablanca, Rabat, Salé, Kenitra, and Agadir. Rising urbanization, then, is the second characteristic of Morocco’s modern population history. Around 1900, only 8 percent of the population lived in urban areas. By the end of the Protectorate, this had risen to 29 percent and. In 2004, approximately 55.1 percent of the Moroccan population was city dwellers. Thus, Morocco has been transformed from a rural into an urban society. It is important to note that the urban population growth size varied considerably from town to town and from city to city. Indeed, Morocco’s urbanization was a very uneven process in which Casablanca took the lead. However, Casablanca was indeed not the only Moroccan city that grew at a fantastic speed during the twentieth century.
Several towns arose ex nihilo, such as Kenitra (Port Lyautey), originally named after its founder, the celebrated French Resident-General Lyautey. At the 1960 census, Kenitra counted already 55,905 inhabitants, whereas half a century before, only one Kasbah had been located at this site. Kenitra’s growth has slowed down considerably in the last decades. Rabat, the new national capital, was also among Morocco’s fast-growing cities, and in the latter part of the twentieth century, its growth rate occasionally even surpassed that of Casablanca. Today, however, the capital has an almost stationary population with a growth rate of 0.1 percent a year.
Remarkably, Fes and Marrakech’s former capitals show almost the opposite development of the Atlantic coast cities. While the population of Mar- Marrakech, and Fes developed only very slowly during the Protectorate – a time when Casablanca and Rabat enjoyed their population explosions – today, they are growing again at a substantial rate. In a reversal of fortunes, the population growth of “Dar el Beida” and the country’s capital have slowed down significantly. The reasons for this opposite development are both logical and well known. Casablanca and Rabat attracted many Moroccans from Fez and Marrakech when the administration and businesses were relocated from the former capitals to the Atlantic coast. As Rabat and Casablanca became increasingly saturated in the latter part of the twentieth century, Fes and Marrakech enjoyed an economic revival, thanks to a decentralization policy and rising international tourism, amongst other things. This positive development has attracted many migrants from the surrounding countryside, resulting in increased population growth.
According to the statisticians of the Centre d’Ėtudes et de Récherches Démographiques (CERED) in Rabat, 34-40 percent of Morocco’s rapid urban population growth during the period of independence can be ascribed to rural-to-urban migrations. The other part of the development is due to a natural increase in population, i.e., the positive disparity between fertility and mortality. This disparity grew during the demographic transition, the third major discontinuity in Morocco’s modern population history. The demographic shift is the change from a Malthusian period of high fertility and high mortality to a contemporary period of low mortality and low fertility. This transformation results from ameliorations in hygiene and health, on the one side, and the decline of nuptiality and the introduction of birth control on the other side.
Looking at the development of Morocco’s demographic transition makes it clear that the country belongs more to the Developing World than to the Occident. Both mortality and fertility only started to decline in the twentieth century, and population growth was high during the latter part of the twentieth century. That said, population growth was considerably lower than in Sub-Saharan Africa and some other Arabic countries in the Middle East.
In Morocco, mortality started to decline during the French Protectorate due to improved living conditions (primarily a significant amelioration in hygiene), the introduction of structural vaccination programs, and the draining of marshes in coastal regions. Through these measures, endemic and epidemic diseases like cholera, typhoid fever, and smallpox declined rapidly, and life expectancy at birth started to increase substantially. After independence, this positive trend continued as medical care improved. The mortality rate dropped from 19 deaths per 1000 inhabitants in 1960 to 5.8 deaths per 1000 inhabitants in 2001, while life expectancy rose simultaneously from 47 to 70 years. This steep rise in life expectancy is mostly the result of a substantial decrease in infant mortality. Whereas in 1962, 149 babies did not reach their first birthday out of every 1000 births. In 2004 this number had fallen to 47.6 per 1000 births.
Fertility only started to decrease in the late 1970s, following a decline in nuptiality and the introduction of birth control. In Tunisia, the decline in fertility had started somewhat earlier, thanks to the large-scale introduction of family planning programs after independence and the relatively immediate emancipation of Tunisian women. In Algeria, by contrast, fertility decline started later, primarily because of earlier political resistance to birth control and large-scale family planning programs. In Algeria, it was thought that ‘development’ was the best solution to the high fertility levels. Rightly or wrongly, when fertility finally started to decrease there, it happened much faster than in Morocco. The result was that, in 2000, the total fertility rate of Algerian women was somewhat lower than that of their Moroccan counterparts.
Fertility decline in Morocco may have been early and slow compared to Algeria; however, when we compare the decrease in reproduction with the Western World, it was also the case with mortality – rather late and fast. An average Moroccan woman in the early 1970s gave birth to approximately six children. In contrast, in Western Europe and the United States, fertility levels were mostly beneath the replacement level, i.e., on average Western women gave birth to less than 2.1 children. However, from that point, fertility among Moroccan women dropped quickly, first in the cities, a little later in the countryside. In 2004, the total fertility rate had already fallen to 2.5; it was even lower in the cities, reaching the replacement level. In France, a similar change in reproduction took some 200 years; in Morocco, it was only 30.
The demographic transition caused a steep rise in population. Consequently, in the 1960s, Morocco belonged to those countries with the highest population growth in the world. During the first part of the twentieth century, Morocco’s population increased from an estimated five million people in 1900 to about 8,953,000 inhabitants in 1952; a little less than four million people had been added. However, in the latter part of the twentieth century, Morocco’s population began to grow at a fantastic speed. Indeed, between 1952 and 2004, more than 20 million people were added to the country’s total population. Today Morocco is home to more than 30 million people. In the matter of a century, the country’s population has multiplied six-fold. This robust population increase caused significant challenges, as economic development could not keep up with population growth. An economic survey by the World Bank in the early 1960s concluded that ‘Morocco will continually find itself having to run faster to stand still.’ However, from the 1970s, Morocco’s population explosion has slowly come to an end, thanks to the decline in fertility and ongoing emigration. It brings us to the last feature of Morocco’s modern population history: international migration.
International migration has influenced Casablanca’s population development in various ways. In the first part of the twentieth century, it contributed significantly to the city’s population growth. During the Protectorate, Dar el Beida was the city where the most significant number of Europeans settled. After independence, however, international migration has slowed down Casablanca’s population growth considerably. First, the large European community left the city more or less ultimately. Second, since Casablanca was the city with the most significant number of Jews in Morocco, the exodus to Israel was felt most in Dar el Beida. Third, more and more people from Casablanca went to Europe, especially France, to start a new life as guest workers in labor-intensive branches of the economy. Fourth, international migration slowed down rural-to-urban migration. Many people who would typically have left the countryside for Casablanca chose instead to go to a European country. There was a greater demand for cheap, unskilled labor north of the Strait of Gibraltar, and Europe offered better prospects since wages there were considerably higher than in Morocco. However, international labor migration slowed down rural-to-urban migration in yet another way: through remittances. Thanks to these money transfers by family members abroad, a considerable section of the rural population were able to keep their heads above water.
Two centuries of ongoing population growth
In the past two centuries, Casablanca has transformed from an unimportant coastal settlement into one of the largest metropolises on the African continent. Equally, Dar el Beida has become one of the major urban areas in the Arabic world. Its urban size exceeds even that of European capital cities like Paris, Madrid, Amsterdam, and Brussels. The surface area of Grand Casablanca is even larger than Greater London. However, in comparison with the three major African cities – Cairo (15.5 million), Lagos (9 million), and Kinshasa (7.5 million) – Dar el Beida, with its three million inhabitants, still looks relatively small. Yet, it has been by far the largest city within the Moroccan Kingdom for some seven decades. Also, since the 1960s, it has been the most populous city of the Maghreb.
Casablanca’s urban importance is all the more remarkable if we consider that Dar el Beida was a relatively unimportant city a century ago, with only about 25,000 inhabitants. At this time, the ancient cities of Fes, Marrakech, Meknes, Rabat, Tetouan, and Tangier were many times larger. It took only three decades for Casablanca to surpass them all. First, Dar el Beida became the city with the most considerable European population within Moroccan borders. This milestone was reached in 1907. Then, in the 1920s, it became home to the largest Jewish community in the country. In the 1930s, this enormous presence of Europeans and Jews helped Casablanca reach the first place among Moroc- can cities. At the population census of 1936, Marrakech’s Muslim community was still somewhat more extensive than Casablanca. However, the town quickly made up arrears, and by the time of the population census of 1952, Casablanca had become home to 477,512 Muslims. This was more than twice the number of Marrakech, the second-largest urban population in Morocco at this time. Within less than half a century, the explosive population growth of the coastal settlement of Dar el Beida had transformed it into the primate city of Casablanca.
In the decades of independence, Dar el Beida kept on growing, and at the start of the millennium, the metropolis was home to about three million people. However, in the last 15 years, Casablanca’s population growth has slowed down considerably, due to the substantial decline in fertility and the city’s popularity among Moroccan country dwellers. Nevertheless, Casablanca still hosts more than twice the population of Rabat-Salé and has become Morocco’s second-largest urban area with slightly over one and a half million inhabitants. Although Casablanca’s population explosion seems to have come to an end, the United Nations still predicts that the city will reach almost four million inhabitants in 2025.
As per Casablanca’s population development between 1836 and 2004, it is possible to distinguish at least five different phases of growth. In the first phase, which stretches from 1836 to 1907 – the moment the French arrived in Casablanca – absolute population increase was very small compared to what would follow. Casablanca’s population started to multiply in the second phase, from 1907 to 1936. At the end of this epoch, Dar el Beida developed into Morocco’s largest city. In the third phase, which encompasses the Protectorate’s late period and the dawn of independence (1936-1960), a population explosion started. During this period, Casablanca became the largest city of the Maghreb and the third city of Africa. In the fourth phase, from 1960 to 1994, Casablanca’s population multiplied fourfold. Thus, it was during independence that the most massive absolute increase in population occurred. However, in the fifth phase, from 1994 to the present day, population growth slowed down considerably, giving other cities the possibility to catch up.
Phase 1: 1836-1907
During the nineteenth century, Casablanca developed from an unimportant coastal settlement into a small port town with a flourishing international ocean trade. From about 1850 onwards, a relatively healthy population growth occurred. It slowed down slightly in the 1860s and 1870s but peaked in the last decades of the nineteenth century. The number of inhabitants grew from about 700 in 1836 to some 21,000 inhabitants at the dawn of the twentieth century. The signaled population growth seems to have occurred, primarily, due to the constant urban in-migration of Muslim country-dwellers, Jewish traders from competing for port towns like Rabat, Azemmour, and Mazagan (El Jadida), and, finally, European entrepreneurs and merchants. On the whole, the Muslim country dwellers originated from the surrounding countryside, i.e., from the Chaouia region. However, there were already migrants from the Doukkala and Tadla, and even before the turn of the century, the first Chleuh Berbers arrived in Casablanca from the Souss and Draa. This group would become famous for the businesses they developed with their grocer’s shops.
If we look at the causes and consequences of the rural-urban migration process, we trace many analogies between the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. As has been the case in the twentieth century, nineteenth-century migrants settled in Casablanca in search of work. The people from the south were already driven away from their home region by famine and drought. No less remarkable is the fact that a severe housing problem arose in the nineteenth century. Consequently, incoming migrants built noualas (huts of branches or reeds) at empty spaces in the Tnaker district or outside the city walls along the countryside’s incoming roads. In 1896 it was estimated that approximately 6000 rural migrants lived in noualas in and outside the city. It is important to note that these inhabitants are not included in the estimations of Casablanca’s total population. Thus, unrestrained in-migration, resulting in strong population growth, was already causing Casablanca’s urban development problems in the nineteenth century. In this way, the noualas can be regarded as forerunners of Casablanca’s future shantytowns.
Next to urban in-migration, natural population growth may equally have influenced total population growth. Unfortunately, we do not possess much data on fertility and mortality for this phase of Casablanca’s population history. That said, it is clear that the demographic transition had not yet started, as epidemics were still occurring very frequently during the nineteenth century. André Adam, Jean Louis Miège, and Eugène Hugues, for example, all report on a significant number of epidemics in the latter part of the nineteenth century, particularly outbreaks of cholera as typhoid fever and smallpox. On the one hand, these epidemics were the result of bad hygiene conditions in the densely populated Medina; on the other hand, they were caused by under-nourishment in times of agricultural crises. Repeated severe cholera epidemics occurred in the 1860s and the latter part of the 1870s after heavy periods of drought and crop failure. Natural population growth was likely very limited in this early phase of Casablanca’s urban expansion since mortality and fertility were still at Malthusians levels. Therefore, the total population growth between 1836 and 1907 can be explained almost exclusively based on urban in-migration.
Phase 2, 3 and 4: 1907-1994
With the arrival of the French, Casablanca entered the world news for the first time. The seizure of Dar el Beida made the way free for the French Protectorate. The events of 1907 marked the start of half a century of dependence on France, which Casablanca’s city was to profit significantly. It is not for nothing that Fernand Joly and André Adam both state that without the Europeans’ presence, mostly the French, Dar el Beida would undoubtedly have remained a small and unimportant settlement. Between 1907 and 1912, the basis of Casablanca’s future expansion was created. As we saw in the previous chapter, this had much to do with European migrants’ arrivals, which were primarily of French origin. Indeed, the statistics reveal that Casablanca formed a focal point of attraction for Morocco’s European immigrants. In 1914, already 48,555 Europeans lived in Morocco, of which some 64 percent resided in Dar el Beida.
Casablanca’s attraction has to do with the fact that because of the French army’s presence, it was one of the few cities – before begining of the Protectorate – in which the life of Europeans was secure. Also, Casablanca had become the prime port city of Morocco, which effectively meant that Dar el Beida had already become the center of its international commerce. Moreover, even before the French troops’ landing, the city had been home to a considerable number of Europeans. However, according to Jean-Louis Cohen and Monique Eleb, the uneven distribution of Europeans throughout Morocco was caused by the fact that Casablanca had become renowned, following the incidents of 1907 and the pompous way in which they were portrayed in Europe and particularly in France. Definitely, the impression that Casablanca might become the heart of an imagined ‘El Dorado’ could well have charmed even more settlers at the initial stage of foreign occupation.
Since many of the recently disembarked foreigners were rich and active citizens, an accumulation of capital and investment occurred in Casablanca. Initially, the Europeans invested more or less exclusively in real estate. Still, shortly after the signing of the Protectorate, they also started to invest, on a large-scale basis, in industry and business. The result was that Casablanca became the economic capital of Morocco. Through the building of Casablanca’s modern artificial ocean port and its first factories’ rise, the city attracted more and more Moroccan, Jewish, and European migrants. As a result, the population exploded, with the town growing from 59,000 inhabitants in 1913 to 965,277 residents at the first national population census in 1960.
If we consider the three segments of Casablanca’s population distinctly, we observe excellent population development differences. Compared with the Muslim component, the community’s European and Jewish parts grew only slowly in the period 1907- 1960. This lower population growth among the Europeans is, primarily, the result of the fact that their fertility was often lower. However, looking at the diverse stages of population growth within this period, the European population initially grew at a much higher pace than the Muslim community. As previously mentioned, the events of 1907 triggered Europeans’ substantial immigration, as they expected that Morocco would become a future French colony. However, between 1913 and 1921, the population growth of Europeans slowed down a little. It has to do with the First World War. In this period, France required a significant number of young men to serve at the front. Yet, the population growth of Muslims and Jews also slowed down somewhat between 1913 and 1921. Perhaps more remarkable is that between 1921 and 1926, Casablanca’s foreign population diminished, while Muslims grew slowly. Population growth among the Jews, by contrast, clearly accelerated, only experiencing a slowdown in the next stage of Casablanca’s maturation process. André Adam explains the decline in the European population between 1921 and 1926 by high inflation. Mustapha Nachoui, however, believes that the French called ‘pacification’ caused a decrease in the European population. But it was a bloody war of resistance in the remote regions of Morocco. Indeed, some Berber tribes in the bled el-siba (the part of Morocco that had always been beyond the Moroccan Sultans) fought until the last moment to preserve their independence. It was only in 1936 – 24 years after the Protectorate’s signing – that the pacification process was concluded. During this process, the French and Spanish troops had to rely upon on-field troops, since the Aït Attah and other rebellious tribes hid in such inhospitable regions that tanks and other military vehicles could not reach the battlefield. Under these conditions, the French army leaders conscripted vast numbers of young men. According to Nachoui, this massive conscription is reflected in the decrease of the European population between 1921 and 1926. We agree with Nachoui, but add that this was also the time of the war in the Rif. In this period, the French fought on two fronts: in the French and the Spanish Zone. The Spanish Army was defeated in 1921 by the troops of the Riffian rebel leader Abdelkrim al-Khattabi. To preserve power in their zone – many tribes supported the rebellious Riffians – the French started a war against Abdelkrim, which was ultimately won in 1926. In our view, the double military effort explains the diminution of the European population. The number of Europeans rose again after 1926, while pacification in the French zone would go on for ten years.
From 1936 on, we observe that all parts of the population start to grow at a higher rate. However, it is the Muslim part of the community that caused a population explosion in 1936-1952. This has everything to do with a great number of droughts and crops failures (in particular 1935, 1937, and 1944-45) which drove people out of the countryside and in the direction of the economic heart of the country, where they hoped to find a job in the ocean port or the up and coming industry. However, an even more significant number of them ended up in Casablanca’s shantytowns. Indeed, the total number of slum dwellers grew from some 50,000 in 1936 to 140,950 in 1953.
Given that both Europeans and Jews’ population growth had remained behind after 1936, they became ever-smaller minorities in the latter part of the Protectorate.
After independence, this became even truer. Table 3.1 shows us that while the Muslim population grew strongly between 1952 and 1960, a population decline occurred in the European and Jewish communities. Emigration to, respectively, Europe and Israel explain this population drop. The safety of Europeans had decreased considerably, and as a result, many people decided to return to their home country. Moroccan Jews, like their religious counterparts elsewhere in the world, started to head to their promised Land: the newly founded state of Israel. As a result of continuous out-migration by Moroccan Jews and Europeans, Casablanca’s population, after 1970, was almost entirely of Muslim city dwellers.
Due to growing urban in-migration and, in particular, an inclining natural population growth, Casablanca’s population continued to grow at a fantastic speed in the first decades after the Protectorate. Although the number of rural-to-urban migrants who settled in Casablanca kept increasing till the 1970s, its relative importance had already begun to decline, as the contribution of natural population growth augmented. In the period up to 1970, birth rates stayed high, while mortality started to decrease further and further. Consequently, the quality of natural increase is augmented.
When fertility finally started to decrease, and Casablanca lost part of its attraction among rural migrants, the population explosion that had begun in the 1930s seemed to have come to an end. Nevertheless, population growth has continued, and the United Nations have predicted that Casablanca will have some four million inhabitants in 2025. Although migration no longer has a significant impact on Casablanca’s population growth, more than 200,000 migrants entered Dar el Beida between 1999 – when King Mohammed VI ascended the Moroccan throne and the population census of 2004. It is still an immense number and indicates that Casablanca remains a significant receiver of migrants.
The Demographic evolution of Casablanca City
A reference of the rural-to-urban resettlement
During the twentieth century, rural-to-urban migration played a crucial role in Morocco’s history. Evermore, significant numbers of country dwellers, started to settle permanently in cities. Whereas in the period 1900-1912, around 7,800 people were annually included in Morocco’s urban population through internal migration, this number increased to 193,000 per year between 1982 and 1994. As we have already seen, most migrants flocked from the inner Moroccan countryside into the modern coastal cities searching for work. According to R. Escallier, Casablanca, Rabat, and Kenitra absorbed some 53 percent of all internal migrants in 1900-1971. Of these new city dwellers, 37 percent appear to have settled in Casablanca, 15 percent chose to reside in Rabat, and a minority headed for Kenitra. More than a million people moved from the Moroccan countryside to Dar el Beida between the beginning of the twentieth century and 1980. It is important to note that Casablanca and Rabat did not attract the same kind of migrants. Whereas former peasants and agricultural laborers generally chose Casablanca as a final destination, Rabat attracted students, executive staff, public servants, and soldiers. From a socio-economic perspective, urban in-migrants in Rabat are more highly educated and enjoy upward mobility more often than those in Casablanca.
The socio-economic differences concerning the urban in-migrants in Casablanca and Rabat have much to do with these two cities’ diverging national functions. Whereas Rabat serves as Morocco’s capital, Casablanca is the industrial hot spot of the country. In Casablanca, we find a massive ocean port and a significant number of Morocco’s factories. Casablanca also serves as a national distribution center. It is the place where both Morocco’s imports and exports come together. In this sense, Casablanca is a city of laborers, traders, and businessmen and -women. Rabat, by contrast, is a city of politicians and diplomats. Here we find the parliament, the ministries, various national offices, embassies, cultural institutions, etc. As a result, (future) proletarians make their way most often to Casablanca, whereas people with higher education and higher ambitions usually head for Rabat. That is why we conclude that Lyautey’s decision in 1913 to make Rabat the country’s new capital was a very brilliant move, at least from a demographic point of view. If Casablanca had become Morocco’s capital, it would have attracted many of those internal migrants, who now choose Rabat as a final destination. It would have meant Casablanca encountering even more urban problems and that the number of slum dwellers would have been even more extensive than is the case today.
The population census of 2004 gives a clearer idea about Casablanca’s urban in-migrants’ regions of origin. It shows how many people of the population of Casablanca (in 2004) were still living in the indicated province five years earlier, in 1999 – at the moment Mohammed VI ascended the Moroccan throne. There is no clear picture of migration in the direction of Dar el Beida, since various temporary moves towards the economic heart of Morocco between 1999 and 2004 are not covered by this method. Nevertheless, the applied approach does provide us with an impression of the distribution of the regions of origin of Casablanca’s urban in-migrants. The majority of Casablanca’s recent urban in-migrants came from the Chaouia-Ourdigha region. The second and third regions of origin of the migrants are, respectively, Doukala-Abda and Sous-Massa-Draa. Only an area number of the migrants originated from the extreme east of the country (L’Oriental). Still, fewer people came from the southern Sahara provinces (Guelmim-Es Semara, Laayoune-Boujour-Sakia el Hamra and Oued-Ed Dahab Laguira). Migrants from the northern Rif region are equally underrepresented. These figures are in line with comparable statistics for the first part of the twentieth century and the 1960s and 1970s. In this respect, we observe strong continuity. The following quotation by André Adam for the origin of Casablanca’s migrants during the protectorate states that the rural areas, which contributed most heavily, could roughly be delimited by a triangle of which the apex would be Casablanca. One side is the Atlantic coast to the mouth of the Oued Draa, the other line drawn to the bend of the Oued Draa, and the base the boundary of the Sahara, roughly indicated by the lower reaches of the Draa.
This description encompasses at least the following regions: Chaouia-Ouridgha, Doukala-Abda, Souss-Massa-Draa, and Marrakech-Tensif-Al Houaz. These regions delivered more than 60 percent of Casablanca’s urban in-migrants in the period 1994- 2004.
The comparison of Casablanca and Rabat from a geographic point of view shows that a very high concentration of rural migrants from the nearby coastal plains, i.e., Chaouia and Doukkala, settled in Casablanca. Simultaneously, people from all parts of the country resided in more balanced proportions in Rabat. It illustrates that Casablanca attracts former peasants and agricultural laborers since the Chaouia and Doukkala are two of the most important agricultural regions of Morocco. Notwithstanding that people with higher education head for the national capital, most of Rabat’s urban in-migrants also originate from the Moroccan countryside. It is not that strange if we consider that rural-to-urban migration is a reaction to the growing inequality in development between the country and the cities. For this reason, rural-to-urban migration in Morocco has often been characterized as ‘a migration of poverty. Migrants left the countryside out of poverty; however, this poverty did not disappear in the cities.
Overall, the lack of means of subsistence of rural-to-urban migrants is reflected in shantytowns and the economy’s growing informal sector. The birthplaces of the heads of households of some of Casablanca’s city quarters make clear that shantytowns are primarily the domains of rural-to-urban migrants. In 1971, 79 percent of the heads of households of the slums of Ben M’Sik and 86 percent of the leaders of families of the slums of Sidi Othmân were born in the countryside. Nowhere else in the city was the share of former country dwellers so high. The city center (former Ville nouvelle) and the city quarter Belvédère city areas were almost exclusively inhabited by the European middle-class and elite during the Protectorate – were hardly occupied by rural-to-urban migrants during the early decades of independence. It underlines the point of view that most rural-to-urban migrants ended up in the lowest urban society’s lowest strata.
However, some rural-to-urban migrants seem to have enjoyed excellent social upward mobility, as they lived their urban life in places like Belvedère or the former Ville nouvelle. Striking is the fact that this is especially true for some migrants, who stem from the same birth area. We find that the people from the Sous and Atlas were many times more often in the city center than in peripheral working-class regions and shantytowns. The opposite is true for the people from the nearby Chauoia and Doukkala regions. To some degree, the origin of Casablanca’s migrants predicts the social environment in which they live in Dar el Beida.
In conclusion, the social-economic assimilation process was more successful for migrants from specific regions. At first glance, the reasons for this remain obscure. According to the French geographer Robert Escallier, social connections and mutual aid among migrants from areas with preserved social structures have a strong positive effect on the assimilation process. Migrants from parts where modernization has destroyed the ancient social structures can no longer count on this kind of mutual help. Consequently, migrants become uprooted upon their arrival in Casablanca, and, as a result, their assimilation process fails. The inability to integrate becomes visible in their life in slums and other insalubrious peripheral working-class areas. However, some positive selection may also have caused unequal chances among rural-to-urban migrants: long-distance migrants may have been better prepared for the urban labor market, i.e., they may have had more human capital than other people from their home region and those rural-to-urban migrants from nearby areas who, more times than not, ended up in Casablanca’s shantytowns. Remarkably, migrants from the distant Souss-Massa-Draa region thrived better in Casablanca than rural-to-urban migrants from the nearby Chaouia and Doukala regions, who one might expect to have had a much more realistic idea of what life was like in Casablanca. However, as the travel costs from the Chaouia and Doukala were minimal, positive selection may have occurred foremost among longer-distance migrants. In other words, it can be argued that all kinds of people entered Dar el Beida from the nearby regions. In contrast, only those migrants with enough human capital – who were in this way well prepared for the city’s urban labor market – left for Casablanca from the more remote regions. Those rural dwellers from more remote areas with less human capital did not move to Dar el Beida, since they could not afford to migrate over such a considerable distance.
The levels of education – one of the indicators of human capital – can demonstrate, to some degree, the disadvantages experienced by rural-to-urban migrants on the urban labor market. Although in the latter part of the twentieth century, the level of education among rural-to-urban migrants was somewhat higher than among rural dwellers who remained in the countryside. Illiteracy among urban in-migrants was considerably higher than among the native urban population. According to the population census of 1982, 82.1 percent of Moroccan country dwellers were illiterate. It was only valid for 69 percent of urban dwellers, which had been born in the countryside. However, only 44 percent of Morocco’s urban population could not read and write at that time. Therefore, a considerably larger number of those urban dwellers born in cities had attended school.
Educational arrears and inferior financial resources are not the only reason rural-to-urban migrants did not assimilate quickly in Casablanca. High clustering among congeners in shantytowns and peripheral working-class areas also explains some of the problems. Since the bulk of the new city dwellers lived due to minimal financial resources or no resources at all, far away from the city center, since travel costs were relatively high, they had little chance of escaping their social environment. It was rare for slum dwellers to meet people from outside their social group. That is one reason why their chances of finding a job outside the informal sector of the economy were quite limited and why upward social mobility seems to have occurred only infrequently. Limited contacts with Casablanca born urban dwellers also have to do with problems related to communication. Many rural-to-urban migrants do not have a thorough command of Arabic or Darija (a Moroccan dialect of Arabic). They only speak the Berber language of their region of origin (Tarifit from the Rif, Tamazight from the Middle Atlas, and parts of the High Atlas, or Tashelhit from the Souss, Anti-Atlas, and Sahara). As a result, the only social contacts in Casablanca outside the family were contacts with rural-to-urban migrants from their region of origin.
The density of rural-to-urban dwellers in shantytowns led to the so-called ‘ruralization’ of Casablanca. Since new urban dwellers lived in self-built hovels in the city’s peripheral districts among other former country-dwellers, hundreds of thousands of modern city dwellers persisted with a rural lifestyle. It is visible in their traditional costumes, the cattle they keep, the typical rustic names they choose for the children, etc. From a purely demographic point of view, it is clear why some social crisis in the twentieth century became inevitable in Casablanca. Those rural-to-urban migrants who encountered the most considerable social-economic and cultural assimilation problems arrived in the most massive numbers and produced the most children. This group of new city dwellers was also the most vulnerable segment of society – due to their minimal educational background, confined skills, and low financial resource. In hindsight, logically, some social crisis would evolve in the twentieth century in the rising Moroccan metropolis at the Atlantic Ocean.
The long-term factors for the upsurge in the population of Casablanca
A lack of accurate statistics makes it difficult to determine the relative contribution of migration, mortality, and fertility to Casablanca’s population growth. It is especially true for the first part of the twentieth century. From 1915, it was only obligatory for Christian settlers to register births, deaths, and marriages. Only during the last phase of the Protectorate on 8 May 1950, to be precise – did the registration of these life events become compulsory for Jews and Muslims. Therefore, at best, it is possible to estimate fertility, marriage, and mortality of the majority of the population during the Protectorate. However, even during the first decades of the post-colonial era, the registry office remains a relatively unreliable source. Still, between 1987 and 1990, a vital under-registration of births and burials has been observed. Today, it is assumed that the registration of births and burials is complete in the cities and under-registration on any considerable scale happens only in the Moroccan countryside.
Fortunately, we have other sources at our disposal for the post-colonial period. From time to time, especially the Direction de la Statistique held beneficial demographic surveys. The government department was also responsible for the population censuses, which were held, respectively, in 1960, 1971, 1982, 1994, and 2004. These censuses give more useful information about Casablanca, not only about pure demographic matters but also about habitation and, more generally, about Casablanca’s city dwellers’ quality of life during the latter part of the twentieth century and the first years of the new millennium. Nevertheless, censuses were already being held during the Protectorate – the so-called ‘dénombrements.’ These censuses contained only superficial information about Casablanca’s population compared to the post-colonial census. The dénombrements, which were held in the French zone in 1921, 1926, 1931, 1936, 1947, and 1951-1952, are, nevertheless, essential for our research, since there are few other sources available, which contain necessary information about Casablanca’s population development during the first part of the twentieth century. The problem is, however, that some of these censuses include significant errors. In particular, the census of 1947 is considered to be completely unreliable.
Yet even for the post-colonial period, we trace conflicting statistics. Given that, in most cases, we are unable to control which statistics are the most reliable, we made our judgments by comparing other figures from other sources. We are sure that most statistics we present in this work are reliable, in the sense that they do not deviate enormously from reality. However, at the same time, no figures are entirely accurate. Even the statistics we derived from the post-colonial censuses are to be treated with caution. The problem lies in the simple fact that it remains complicated to count people and register lifetime events in an overcrowded metropolis like Casablanca. A considerable part of the population lives in shantytowns and so-called ‘habitat clandestine.’
For this reason, the most reliable population statistics originate from demographic surveys. However, since only a part of the population is surveyed, it is imperative to ensure that representation is guaranteed. It is tough to judge if this is always the case with the surveys we used for our statistics. Therefore, we reiterate that all the figures we present in this work must be treated with caution, even though most do not deviate from reality.
Despite these restrictions, we possess some estimates that suggest very plausibly that Casablanca’s population growth was, at least during the first part of the twentieth century, primarily the result of rural-to-urban migration. According to the pioneering work of G. Godefroy and the population censuses of 1971 and 1982, during the Protectorate, many times more people were added to Casablanca’s population by urban in-migration than by natural population growth. Moreover, absolute net-migration continuously increased until the 1960s. Whereas net-migration added up to 16,287 people in the 1910s, and in the 1950s, this number had been multiplied by nearly twelve. However, the disparity between mortality and fertility grew even faster, and, as a result, natural population growth became more important than urban in-migration during independence.
The observed relative decline in the impact of urban in-migration should not be surprising. Natural population growth is ceteris paribus always lighter in smaller populations than in larger ones, for the simple reason that in smaller communities, the number of women is less than in large populations. Simultaneously, the migration weight is higher in smaller populations, as the geographic unit is made up of only a few people. However, in the long run, the contribution of migration to population growth becomes hidden in the statistical analysis outcomes, since natural increase acts as the multiplier effect on migration. Therefore, it is unremarkable that a larger proportion of Casablanca’s population growth can be ascribed to natural population growth in the twentieth century. In fact, in the latter part of the twentieth century, Casablanca counted many more inhabitants than had been the case on the eve of the Protectorate.
Nevertheless, natural population growth indeed accelerated from the 1930s on, resulting from a decline in mortality. Besides, we observe an absolute reduction in net migration during the 1970s. The lack of reliable statistics made it hard to determine whether the latter trend has continued in the past decades.
In 1952, only 8.2 percent of the heads of households were born in Casablanca, 8.4 percent originated from other Moroccan cities, and an astonishing 85.3 percent was born in the Moroccan countryside. These figures underline that rural-to-urban migration has played a crucial role in Casablanca’s population explosion in an unchallengeable way. However, the percentage of former country dwellers decreased further and further during the latter part of the twentieth century. At the same time, the proportion of people who were born in Casablanca grew considerably. It indicates that natural increase became a gradually more critical determinant of Casablanca’s population growth than rural-to-urban migration. The percentage of the heads of households born in another city grew continuously between 1952 and 1971. A rising proportion of urban-born dwellers, combined with a decreasing rate of former country-dwellers, may lead us to conclude that Casablanca became less popular among country dwellers in the twentieth century, but more attractive to people from other Moroccan cities. However, the latter conclusion may be only partially correct, as we will see in the next section.
In the latter part of the twentieth century, the share of rural-to-urban migrants who chose Casablanca as a final destination continuously declined. At the same time, medium-sized cities started to receive a larger part of the rural-to-urban migration wave. As a consequence, the effects of Morocco’s rural exodus are better distributed among the diverse cities. It also means that Casablanca’s urban domination is decreasing. Whereas in 1960, 28.5 percent of Morocco’s city dwellers were living in Casablanca, this percentage gradually decreased and reached 20.6 percent in 1994. Several state programs, aimed at directing rural-to-urban migrants to smaller Moroccan cities, have been successful to some degree since more rural-to-urban migrants arrived in medium towns. However, at the same time, the migration of country dwellers to large cities has changed somewhat. Kahlid Benabdeljalil describes the new situation as follows: ‘Cities such as Casablanca, Rabat-Sale, and Tangiers, although showing a low rate of in-migration, tend to keep the migrant, in contrast to the medium-size cities who are suppliers of migrants to these cities.’ Some step-migration has arisen, and the impact of rural-to-urban migration is still felt in Casablanca – albeit to a lesser degree since many migrants remain in medium-size cities. At the same time, another group of migrants arrives at the second stage in Casablanca. It probably explains why, in the latter part of the twentieth century, a growing share of Casablanca’s population was born in other cities. Migrants leave the countryside, go to a medium-size city, settle down for a while and have children; however, they leave after a time with their families to settle in Casablanca or one of Morocco’s other large cities. This impact of rural-to-urban migration on Dar el Beida’s population growth has slowed down, but to a lesser degree than the statistics reveal at first sight.
Casablanca’s population maintains strong links with the Moroccan countryside are visible during Aïd el Kebir when the majority of Dar el Beida’s population leaves for the Moroccan country to celebrate the ceremonial sacrifice of a sheep together with other relatives in their ‘place of origin’. On these religious feast days, the usually overcrowded boulevards of Casablanca are remarkably empty. This emptiness, which the native-born population relishes, leaves a sinister impression on foreign visitors rather. The only time one can find the streets of Dar el Beida even more abandoned is during el fotor in Ramadan.
Fundamental Factors of Widespread Rural to Urban Migration in Casablanca
Based on empirical data and existing literature, structural forces on the meso and macro level inclined migrants to leave the countryside to settle in Casablanca. At the meso level, there are two different sub-problems:
1) Leaving the countryside to move to the urban environment
2) Choosing Casablanca as a (final) destination out of a broader set of potential urban destination.
The study shows disparities between the rural and the urban environment on the one hand and between Casablanca and other Moroccan cities. After all, scholars of migration agree that a significant proportion of ‘Third World’ migration results from local and regional disparities, which are caused by unequal development. The final question to be answered in this chapter is why this unequal development – which can be seen as the fountainhead of massive rural-to-urban migration in Casablanca’s direction – occurred. In addressing this final issue, we will switch from the meso to the macro level.
Diverse demographic, sociological, economic, political, ecological, and geographical factors induced people to leave their rural existence behind to settle in Casablanca. These factors are interlinked and, in practice, it seems to be the combination of two or more elements that caused rural-to-urban migration on the micro-level.
It should be noted that some limitations are involved in the methods applied since the Moroccan countryside is by no means a monolithic geographic unity; it would generally be necessary to analyze the diverse disparities per geographic unit. After all, Morocco is characterized by great diversity in landscapes, climates, and soil conditions, reflected in the country’s demographic history (for example, the population density but also out-migration). Regional culture, regional economic structures, local employment opportunities, and other local and regional peculiarities may have also impacted migration patterns. However, due to a lack of appropriate statistics, which would allow us to make comparisons through time and space, we have treated the Moroccan countryside as one great reservoir of potential migrants. As we have seen in the previous chapter, migrants from all parts of Morocco are indeed represented in Casablanca’s population. However, their reasons for leaving their natal village to settle down in Dar el Beida may have been quite different, due to other regional conditions.
A second limitation concerns why some people from some regions left the countryside while neighbors and other people from the same area stayed where they were. As we have seen in the previous chapter, there was probably some selection effect behind the population movement. It is very reasonable to surmise that in terms of the more remote regions, only those rural dwellers with sufficient financial resources at their disposal move to Casablanca. Only those country dwellers had adequate money to pay the travel costs involved in the movement to Dar el Beida. Since these were, in general, also the people with more human capital, it is very reasonable to assume that long-distance migrants assimilated easier in Casablanca than short-distance migrants from the Chaouia and Doukala region. As it happens, this latter group was probably able to escape this positive selection effect. It is even reasonable to suggest that some adverse selection effects occurred among these short-distance migrants. In other words, it is likely that only those people from the Doukala and Chaouia who encountered the most significant struggle for survival in their (natal) village left for Casablanca. Further research is necessary to test whether or not diverse or even opposite selection effects occurred among migrants from different regions. However, based on the in-depth interviews, some ideas are gathered about whether negative selection happened.
The living condition in Casablanca
As previously stated, massive rural-to-urban migration reflects great disparities between the rural and urban parts of a country. In Morocco, these disparities are found in the standard of living, the availability of services, and the possibilities for social-economic upward mobility. All three variables were at a considerably lower level in the countryside compared to the cities. However, these are the principal impetus behind the rural-to-urban migration processes.
During the twentieth century, a considerable part of Morocco’s population lived under miserable circumstances. A significant proportion of Moroccans lacked even the barest essentials of life. According to the Dutch human-geographer Wout Lentjes, 42 percent of Moroccans consumed only 1600 calories a day, while human beings require 2210 calories a day to remain healthy. Consequently, millions of Moroccans were starving during the twentieth century. However, the situation in the countryside was worse than in the Moroccan cities. In 1970, Moroccan townsmen consumed more than twice the quantity of meat than country dwellers did. At the same time, they ate 35 percent more dairy products, and they also ate more vegetables.
In general, city dwellers spent about twice as much as country-dwellers, as their average income is considerably higher. Unfortunately, there is a lack of such statistics for most of the twentieth century. Nevertheless, it is possible to show that, in general, Moroccan city dwellers lived a better life than their fellow countrymen in the countryside, by focusing on mortality, life expectancy, and living conditions. In an influential article titled, ‘Mortality as an indicator of economic success and failure,’ the Indian economist Amartya Sen argues that, amongst other things, mortality and life expectancy reflect the quality of life of a population. In particular, infant mortality seems to be a good indicator of the standard of living in diverse societies.
Therefore, the mortality and life expectancy will be compared between the Moroccan countryside and Moroccan cities. Unfortunately, these statistics are only available for the latter part of the twentieth century. It possible to assume those city dwellers had a higher standard of living throughout the twentieth century than country dwellers. In 1962, for example, life expectancy at birth of country dwellers was 43 years, while in the urban environment; this figure had already risen to 57. After 1962, this gap narrowed considerably, indicating that the quality of life in the countryside improved faster than in Morocco’s cities. It would mean that the impulse to leave the countryside slowed down somewhat in the latter part of the twentieth century.
There are rural-urban differences in the infant mortality rate in the periods 1977-1986 and 1985- 1995. During both these periods, the infant mortality rate was considerably higher in the Moroccan countryside, indicating once again that the quality of life of Moroccan country dwellers was lower than that of city dwellers. However, since the infant mortality rate declined faster in the urban environment, we get the idea that rural Morocco lagged even further behind and that the impetus to move from the countryside to a city would have grown at this time.
The lower standard of living among Moroccan country dwellers is also reflected in the facilities available in their dwellings. In 1960, the percentage of people who had no water at their disposal in their home was much higher in the Moroccan countryside than in Moroccan cities. The same is true for the availability of a private toilet, electricity, and sanitary fittings. The only advantage of rural dwellings was the fact that they were more often equipped with a kitchen. Apart from this, the statistics reveal that the Moroccan country dwellers more often lacked all kinds of basic needs than their fellow countrymen in the cities.
The statistics for 1982 and 1994 show an even more significant disparity between the cities and the countryside. In 1982 and 1994, only a small minority of Morocco’s rural households had running water at their disposal (respectively, 2.2 percent and 4 percent). In 1994, already three-quarters of urban households had a water tap in their dwelling. More or less, the same is valid for electricity. In 1994, only 9.7 percent of Moroccan rural households were connected to the national grid, against 80.7 percent of urban households. There is also a considerable but less shocking disparity in terms of sanitary equipment.
Nevertheless, the statistics reveal that most Moroccan country dwellers lacked even the necessities of life. By contrast, in the urban environment, a much larger proportion of households were equipped with running water, electricity, and all kinds of sanitary fittings. Based on these statistics, it is clear that urban society’s quality of life was much better. Two other variables are used to determine that the standard of living among Moroccan country dwellers was considerably lower than the living standard of city dwellers. The mean annual expenses per household and the percentage of the population that, according to the statisticians of the Moroccan Haut Commissariat au Plan, live below the poverty line. As for the mean annual expenses of rural and urban households between 1960 and 2001, it is clear that urban households spent more money during this epoch of modern Moroccan history. Equally, in the period 1959-2001, urban households’ expenses grew at a higher pace than rural households’ expenditures. The purchasing power of Moroccan country dwellers declined. However, since the level and development of both environments’ prices are unknown, it is not entirely clear that Moroccan city dwellers’ purchasing power remained higher during this time.
There is a considerably higher proportion of Moroccan country dwellers that were considered to be poor. Simultaneously, there has been a decline in the proportion of rural poor since the middle of the 1980s. However, it was still the case that a considerably larger proportion of rural Moroccan dwellers were considered to be poor in 2007. This persistent disparity in wealth allows us to assume that the impetus to leave the countryside has remained very much alive.
The accessibility to services and the means for social-economic upward mobility
In the past century, conditions in the Moroccan countryside were poor. Children had to walk kilometers to reach the nearest school, and visit a doctor could take hours in Morocco’s most remote regions. Moreover, general practitioners were mostly absent in the Moroccan countryside since the Moroccan government spent only 1 percent of the Gross Domestic Product on health and well-being since healthcare was considered a non-productive sector. Today, 66 percent of Morocco’s family doctors are based in the urban areas between Fes and Casablanca. In urban Morocco today, there is one doctor for every 1700 inhabitants, whereas there is one physician for every 17,500 rural dwellers in the countryside. Also, as infrastructure is inferior in these areas, doctors are difficult to reach.
Recent research results reveal that low levels of education, lousy infrastructure, and poverty are interlinked. As Mouna Cherkaoui, Touhami Abdelkhalek, and Aurora Angeli explained in a paper presented in 2009 at the XVI IUSSP Population Conference in Marrakech: ‘Rural communes with lower access to electricity, worse access to public transportation (buses, train, and cabs), and fewer primary schools experience higher poverty rates. First of all, low income represents an obstacle to get at health services; besides, a lack of knowledge about hygiene, nutrition, and the availability of treatment options, particularly among the uneducated, represent additional barriers that lower access to health services.
The low availability of services reduces the quality of life and reduces the possibility of improving one’s standard of living. In this light, it is not strange to see that illiteracy was more widespread in the countryside than in urban Morocco in the latter part of the twentieth century. That said, this gap narrowed somewhat, suggesting that more schools were built in the countryside and school attendance policy had become stricter. Simultaneously, an improvement in infrastructure and transport facilities also contributed to the decline in illiteracy in the Moroccan countryside. Nevertheless, it remains the case that in 2004 a more significant number of Moroccan country dwellers were unable to read and write than their city-dwelling compatriots.
Possibilities to improve one’s social standing in the countryside were very limited since higher education institutions were absent and employment opportunities outside the agricultural sector were scarce. Those Moroccan country dwellers who felt the urge to improve their living standards were therefore compelled to leave the countryside and head to a Moroccan city or another country. In conclusion, the limited financial resources and the lack of services are the main barriers to social-economic upward mobility in rural Morocco.
Main Factors of the Great Rural-to-Urban Migration
Pressing influences in the countryside
The Moroccan countryside did not offer immense employment opportunities outside the primary sector. However, throughout the twentieth century, Morocco’s agriculture was in a state of crisis. It is illustrated that although a large proportion of the population worked in agriculture, its contribution to the Gross Domestic Product fluctuated between only 12 and 22 percent. Indeed, in industry and services, productivity was three to four times higher than in the agricultural sector. It is not surprising that between 1951/52 and 2004, the proportion of people engaged in agriculture declined from 60 percent to 34 percent. While the Western World experienced comparable development during industrialization, there is at least one striking difference. When in Europe and the United States, fewer men started to work in the primary sector, agricultural production kept growing at such a pace that the growing urban population could still be nourished without any trouble. In Morocco, as in other developing countries, this was not the case. During the latter part of the twentieth century, high population growth and disappointing agriculture results repeatedly forced Morocco to import more significant foodstuffs. The export of agricultural products increased but at a considerably slower pace than imports. Consequently, Morocco had a growing negative trade balance in agriculture from 1972 onwards.
Although a large part of the population worked in agriculture, Morocco was always forced to import food during the twentieth century. Its agricultural labor force produced too few crops to feed the people. While this also has much to do with the fact that cash crops in the modern agricultural sector are grown following demand on the world market, the transformation from an agrarian to an industrial and service economy was a complicated process in Morocco. Indeed, there are three significant causes of massive out-migration in the Moroccan countryside: problems in agriculture leading to high under-employment among peasants, a minimal number of services, and the absence of employment opportunities outside the countryside’s primary sector. These three features were felt as substantial push factors since they caused poverty and made social-economic upward mobility more or less impossible in the Moroccan countryside. The absence of employment opportunities outside the primary sector and the lack of services are the outcome of neglect since both the French and the Moroccan government did not invest sufficient money to improve rural Morocco conditions. The problems in agriculture, however, are more complex. Indeed, it would be completely wrong to state that these, too, were the result of neglect since both the French and the Moroccan administration has made great efforts to improve the economy’s primary sector.
From the first moment the French arrived in Morocco, they started to invest large sums of money in the economy’s primary sector, as they believed that Morocco was extraordinarily suited for agriculture. In the words of Will Swearingen, who dedicated his Ph.D. thesis to twentieth-century planning mistakes in Morocco’s agricultural sector, Morocco was perceived as a mysterious barbarian stronghold, as the ‘African China,’ a land insulated from the world’s progress by high mountain barriers and inaccessible shorelines, once rich but now fallen into decay.’ However, almost every investment belied that Morocco is suited for agriculture unless very sophisticated prosperity such as irrigation is utilized. Also, the application of such techniques is not remunerative for cash crops, as the costs of production are too high.
Moreover, only a small part of Morocco’s agricultural community was able to modernize its production machinery. Mechanization split the agricultural sector into two sectors: a modern one, consisting of hundreds of large farmers, and a traditional one, which is made up of millions of peasants with insufficient quantities of arable land. Progress in the modern sector almost automatically implies decay in the conventional industry since wealthy farmers buy arable land from peasants. It enables them to increase their profit, while the peasants lose their means of production step-by-step and ultimately cannot sustain themselves from their agricultural activities. Since there are virtually no employment opportunities outside the farming sector, those former peasants and agricultural laborers who have been deprived of their farmland make their way to the city to find employment in industry or services.
Land appropriations also denied Moroccan country-dwellers of their ways of sustenance. From 1912 onwards, the French and Spanish colonized more extensive parts of Morocco ever, seizing thousands of acres of the best arable land. In 1955/1956, land distribution was very unequally distributed among the individual members of Morocco’s agricultural community. Some 400 farmers possessed more than 500 hectares, whereas 1800 peasants had less than 10 hectares of arable farmland at their disposal. During independence, the situation remained largely unchanged, as real land reforms failed to appear.
However, land fragmentation is not just caused by modernization processes and land grabbing French and Spanish but also by demographic pressure. Through a combination of high fertility and equal inheritance rights among siblings, peasants’ arable land is frequently subdivided. This process goes on until there is too little land to sustain individual agricultural households. According to Khalid Benabdeljalil, in the 1970s, some 90 percent of Moroccan peasants owned too small land to live. However, there are significant regional differences in demographic pressure within Morocco. These differences explain, to some degree, the unequal spread of out-migration. However, it would be wrong to think that population density is a good indicator of population pressure. After all, this would have meant that the fertile coastal plains had a much higher rate of population pressure than the arid zones in Eastern and Southern Morocco. However, this is at least for the first part of the twentieth century, not the case. Instead, population pressure results from a distorted relationship between the means of production, i.e., the availability of (fertile) farmlands and population density. It was the case, for example, in the fertile and densely populated Souss region, but also in the less densely populated Oriental area, where fertile land was very scarce.
Climatologic factors have caused great trouble to Moroccan peasants and farmers alike. In particular, droughts caused severe crop failures, which deprived peasants and agricultural laborers of both nourishment and income. Mustapha Nachoui and André Adam have described how thousands of starving peasants made their way to Casablanca to find employment and sustenance in the city during dry years. Among others, Moussa Kerzazi has shown that there was a clear link between rainfall and rural-to-urban migration. In drought years, many more peasants and agricultural laborers made their way to the city. Again, however, regional differences are significant. In some Morocco regions, such as the southern Sahara provinces, rainfall is always less than 300 millimeters per year. Simultaneously, the High Atlas commonly receives enough precipitation to cultivate all kinds of crops, even in years of a massive drought.
Finally, planning mistakes were the source of great trouble in agriculture. At the start of the Protectorate, most French were convinced that Morocco would quickly develop into a prosperous agricultural nation. Writing in 1912, Vaffer-Pollet said: ‘the true fortune of Morocco resides in its agriculture. Through the export of the fruit of its soils, Morocco will become rich’. The decades that followed, however, would show the opposite instead. The French started to cultivate cereals on a considerable scale. However, the production never grew sufficiently, and at various moments cereal production was too low to feed the Moroccan population. Consequently, there were many famines, including those in the 1930s and 1940s, particularly severe.
For diverse reasons, the French considered Morocco to be destined for the production of cereals. First, grain production did not demand great start-up investments from French settlers. Second, barley and wheat were already the most cultivated crops in Morocco before the French arrived. Third, the so-called tirs – black soils in the Atlantic plains – were considered similar to the fertile chernozem soils in Ukraine, one of the world’s leading grain-producing nations. According to Will Swearingen, it was, primarily, the idea that the former Roman province of Mauretania Tingitana (which covered the northern part of present-day Morocco) had functioned as the granary of Rome which convinced the ambitious French to regenerate this glorious part of the country’s history. This time, Morocco would become the leading supplier of cereal to Paris. Regrettably, the outcome was catastrophic. One cause of the disaster was the fact that the French had overestimated Morocco’s climatologic conditions. Although annual rainfall is, in most years, sufficient to grow cereals in ‘useable Morocco,’ rainfall is spread adversely, i.e., there are some periods of the year when rains are heavy – often too heavy –.
In contrast, in other months, there is no precipitation whatsoever. Moreover, there is no clear annual rainfall pattern. The only thing that can be said with any certainty is that the summers are always dry. Additionally, the chergui – a scorching and dry wind from the Sahara – can cancel out all positive rainfall effects in one fell swoop. The second cause of the failure was that those tir soils were often less fertile than the Ukrainian chernozem soils.
To yield cereals to an adequate level, costly agricultural techniques needed to be employed. The only way this could be realized was through compulsory financial subsidies from the French government. However, when Moroccan cereals started to compete with France, French farmers revolted, and the government in Paris stopped subsidizing the Moroccan cereal production. The idealistic image of Morocco as a former lush granary was grounded in environmental misperceptions’. Such misperceptions led to erroneous plans. These faulty plans led to several efforts to improve Morocco’s agriculture throughout the twentieth century ending in complete failure. According to Swearingen, recent problems in Moroccan agriculture directly result from pursuing erroneous French agrarian policies during independence.
Recent statistics on employment reveal that agriculture problems are far from solved, making it plausible that rural-to-urban migration in Morocco will continue soon. For example, 77.5 percent of all Moroccan country dwellers working in agriculture in 2003 were underemployed. No other sector of the economy measured such a high degree of under-employment. Furthermore, the majority of unemployed Moroccan country dwellers (46 percent of all rural unemployed) had previously worked in the primary sector, indicating once again that an ever-increasing number of Moroccan countrymen were unable to earn a living in agriculture. Since there are few employment opportunities outside the Moroccan countryside’s primary sector, rural-to-urban migration will likely continue during the next decades.
Pull factors affecting migration in Casablanca
The majority of country dwellers flocked to cities for economic reasons. The results of several demographic surveys underline this. According to a study undertaken by the BIT (Bureau International du Travail), the best working and living conditions in Morocco were to be found in the urban environment. Urban laborers enjoyed higher wages and better education and professional training. Moreover, thanks to better infrastructure and advanced transport facilities, it was easier for them to reach their workplace. Finally, the working days of urban laborers were shorter than their counterparts in the countryside. In this sense, it is not surprising that the Enquête Démographique National 1986-88 of the Direction de la Statistique concluded that 70.3 percent of the interrogated male rural migrants settled in one of Morocco’s large cities did so for reasons related to employment. However, for women, family reunion, marriage, and other familial matters dominated their motives for moving to the city. It underlines the fact that women are strongly underrepresented in the labor market and that, on the whole, they do not provide a financial contribution to the household budget.
Nevertheless, this by no means implies that economic matters were only of minor importance for women. The financial concerns of women were expressed differently; for example, in the form of partner choice. Since urban male laborers earned higher wages than agricultural laborers, it is reasonable to suggest that rural women may have preferred urban men. After all, by marrying an urban man, they were able to improve their standard of living.
New citizens wanted to improve their life situations. In this sense, employment opportunities and higher wages were the primary pull factors of urban Morocco. Although unemployment in the cities rose quickly following the Protectorate’s signing, the demand for laborers in industry and services grew. It is illustrated that an ever-larger proportion of Moroccans became employed in industry and services during the latter part of the twentieth century. The ratio of people working in agriculture, by contrast, kept on declining. However, since employment in industry and services could not keep up with the increase in new citizens, unemployment peaked in Moroccan cities. Yet, Moroccan country dwellers were troubled by exceptionally high rates of underemployment. The productivity of farmers was, indeed, very low. In the early 1960s, William Zartman indicated that ‘the average added value per industrial worker in Morocco is 4.5 times greater than that of the farmer’. That is why, according to the same Zartman, the average income of non-agricultural occupations was at least twice the income of farmers.
The availability of higher and better education in the urban environment also seems to have attracted Moroccan country dwellers. 16.3 percent of the interrogated male urban in-migrants, who settled in large cities, declared that schooling had been the prime reason for their rural-to-urban movement. This percentage was lower for female urban in-migrants (10.7 percent) and smaller towns since the best high schools and universities are located in Casablanca, Rabat, Fes, Tangier, Meknes, and Marrakech. Finally, a small proportion of the interrogated people declared that they had headed to a city for health-related reasons. It was right for a somewhat larger proportion of females who had left for one of Morocco’s large cities. More and better-equipped hospitals and the more significant presence of physicians explain this. However, the company of employment in industry and services, the higher income, and the better possibilities for social-economic upward mobility seem to have been the largest pull factors in the urban environment. While the fact that this resulted in better living conditions, improved health, and higher life expectancy may seem to be very important in the eyes of the scholar, these variables may have been less important to individual migrants, probably because they were less aware of these disparities between the rural and urban environment. Today, most Moroccans believe that country dwellers are healthier and live longer because of their closer attachment to nature.
Why do people migrate to live in Casablanca?
According to a migration survey, 79 percent of all interviewed rural-to-urban migrants settled in Casablanca in search of a job. For most of the twentieth century, the statement that Casablanca is a job paradise can be disaffirmed. In 1960, some 27.5 percent of the active population was unemployed. In 1971, this was 19 percent, and in 2004, 15.7 percent of the city’s inhabitants remained jobless. During the early years of the Protectorate, the situation may have been somewhat better; however, it cannot be explored due to a lack of statistics. That said, the rise and growth of shantytowns during the Protectorate underline that massive unemployment must have also existed in the first part of the twentieth century. Yet, the situation in the labor market was not better in other Moroccan cities. In 1961, the unemployment of male city dwellers was at a peak in Kenitra, Meknes, Oujda, and Tetouan. In Fes, Marrakech, and Rabat, the situation was better. However, there was no appreciable employment created in these cities or construction in industry or construction, two sectors suitable for former peasants, since those kinds of jobs required no excellent preliminary training or education. In 1961, female unemployment was lower in Casablanca than in Meknes, Oujda, Kenitra, and Rabat.
Tangier knew a comparable level of unemployment. However, since there were far more industrial employment opportunities in Casablanca, it is not strange to observe that much more massive waves of migrants flocked to Dar el Beida.
Another pull factor for Moroccan country dwellers was the higher revenues in Casablanca. Already during the Protectorate, minimum incomes were higher in Casablanca than in other Moroccan cities. As a result, it was logical that the lion’s share of Morocco’s rural-to-urban migrants went to Casablanca. After all, the majority of jobs in industry were offered in Dar el Beida and unemployment there was lower than in many other (industrial) cities. At the same time, (minimum) revenues were higher.
Considering that three-quarters of all Moroccan plants were located in Casablanca, that Dar el Beida was the city where the largest number of buildings was constructed, and that unemployment was lower there than in many other (industrial) cities, it is rational that the majority of Moroccan rural-to-urban migrants headed to Dar el Beida. The chance of finding a desirable job in the industry seems to have been greater in Casablanca than in any other Moroccan city.
Regarding the living conditions in diverse Moroccan cities, Casablanca was a logical destination for rural-to-urban migrants. Dar el Beida’s households had less basic needs than most other Moroccan towns in 1971. Compared with other Moroccan towns, a relatively small proportion of households lacked running water (32.6 percent) and electricity (21.6 percent). Moreover, Casablanca’s inhabitants more frequently had a bathroom and a toilet than those in most other Moroccan cities.
Finally, it is very plausible that there may have been considerable opportunities for social-economic upward mobility among urban in-migrants in Casablanca.
Although the number of people living in shantytowns consistently increased during the twentieth century, the percentage of Casablanca’s inhabitants living in slums decreased from the 1950s. Life in the slums was an ‘intermediate landing’ for many urban in-migrants. After some time, they improved their situation and moved to ‘normal’ working-class quarters. However, it is also possible that, in the twentieth century, an ever-larger proportion of rural-to-urban migrants were able to skip the period in Casablanca’s shantytowns, unlike their predecessors. Further research on this extraordinarily interesting topic is necessary to reveal why the percentage of slum dwellers declined and which part of the population profited from this positive development. However, of itself, the observation of a decreasing proportion of slum inhabitants clarifies why rural-to-urban migration towards Casablanca continued: country dwellers had a greater chance of improving their standard of living in Dar el Beida, or at least the standard of living of their children.
Reasons for irregular progress in Morocco
The historical-structuralists were convinced that massive rural-to-urban migration in the direction of primate cities is, to some degree, a consequence of colonialism and the introduction of capitalism in more or less self-sufficient societies. The French colonizer shifted the political and economic center of Morocco from the inland to the coastal cities of Casablanca, Fedala (Mohammedia), Rabat, and Kenitra to facilitate the colony’s exploitation. In this way, the colonial administration could rule conveniently over Morocco, while raw materials and semi-finished products were easily gathered and shipped to France.
The Protectorate signing did not create a peer-to-peer but rather a master-slave relationship between the two countries. In this way, Morocco became a satellite state of France. Like the other Territoires d’Outre Mer, Morocco had to flourish to enrich France and increase its prestige among the other great colonial powers around the globe. In practice, this meant that Morocco became a dependent state, which was,
for a large part, deprived of its capital, labor, and mineral resources. The French colonizer’s selfish and ignorant attitude was damaging to the Moroccan state, as resources were transported without any large-scale compensation and as one-sided investments distorted Morocco’s economic development.
The large-scale cultivation of cash crops during the Protectorate is an excellent example of how selfish investments caused distorted development in Morocco. Instead of raising crops to feed the native population, the French sewed cereals to provide France with cheap grain. Large-scale crop failures, causing widespread unemployment and hunger in the Moroccan countryside, could not prevent the French from maintaining this kind of dangerous monoculture. However, as rising subsidies resulted in the import-product competing with cereals from France, the large-scale cultivation of these kinds of crops on Moroccan soil soon became a thing of the past. After all, investments in Morocco had to serve the development of the mother country.
The combination of neglect, one-sided investments, and planning mistakes caused significant uneven development within the Moroccan state. Indeed, the French colonizer only invested in geographic units and sectors of the economy, which would be profitable for the home base. It is mainly for this reason that all kinds of services lacked in the countryside and why Casablanca and the mining region of Khouribgha, by contrast, enjoyed such large investments. It is very telling that the French talked about usable Morocco as divergent to the country’s areas, which were considered to be uneconomic. As a consequence of neglect, these latter regions started to decay.
The introduction of capitalism distorted uniform development. As the modern sector of the economy was boosted, the traditional one decayed, causing above all, an ever-larger rift between self-sustaining peasants and market-orientated farmers. Self- sustaining peasant families became increasingly in want of cash, through which they became inclined to produce for the market. To reduce production costs, they started to cultivate just one or two market-oriented crops, whereas previously, they had produced all kinds of crops to sustain themselves. However, as these peasants had little financial resources to mechanize, they could not compete with French colons and wealthy Moroccan farmers. Consequently, they were unable to earn sufficient money to keep their heads above water. Subsequently, this type of family arrived en masse in Casablanca in search of work.
During independence, the Moroccan government largely continued the policy of the Protectorate, and so uneven development continued. Still, in 1977, Casablanca absorbed more than half of all investments, which took place in urban Morocco. As a result, massive migration in the direction of Dar el Beida continued during the first decades of independence. It is only more recently that the Moroccan government seems to have realized how adverse the effects of uneven investments are. The construction of a large-scale artificial port in Tangier, the investments in the Rif- region and the cities of Fes, Marrakech, and Agadir are certainly a step in the right direction. Moreover, the recent efforts to create a more even development within the Moroccan state give the diverse regions more (budgetary) autonomy. The fact that rural-to-urban migration in Casablanca’s direction has slowed down considerably proves that this kind of policy is successful.
The Objectives, Prospects, and Movements of Individual Migrants in Casablanca
Gathering information through interview identifies the aims, method, and organization of shantytown residents.
The massive rural-to-urban migration was approached in the direction of Casablanca from the micro-perspective. In-depth interviews were held with rural-to-urban migrants who ended up in Dar el Beida’s shantytowns to know their decision to come to Casablanca that led to the phenomenon of over-urbanization. These urban in-migrants went to the city even though the city did not need them from an economic point of view. As a result, they became unemployed or ended up in the informal sector of the economy. Their inability to find a regular job, in turn, compelled them to live in the city’s bidonvilles. However, rising unemployment and expanding shantytowns were not enough to prevent other rural-to-urban migrants from settling in Casablanca. Consequently, unemployment continued to rise, slum areas grew in size and number, and Dar el Beida’s population kept growing at an explosive pace throughout the twentieth century.
To understand the seemingly paradoxical phenomenon of persistent massive rural-to-urban migration towards primate cities, the first subjects of the interview were the rural-to-urban migrants. They, at first sight, have taken a completely illogical decision. Since their move from the countryside to Casablanca seems to have caused them nothing but misery, as they ended up in the city’s slums. Ten interviews were conducted between November 2008 and February 2009, allowing this group of rural-to-urban migrants to talk about their reasons for quitting their rural existence and settling in one of Casablanca’s shantytowns. While the number of interviews is limited, the outcome provided the most important reasons behind the rural-to-urban migration movement.
Nevertheless, by studying the intentions, expectations, and actions of slum dwellers, the micro-perspective of a specific category of rural-to-urban migrants was highlighted. The interviewees’ experiences are not representative of all rural migrants in Casablanca since specific groups of former country dwellers experienced impressive social upward mobility. There were rural-to-urban migrants, mostly long-distance migrants from the region Souss-Massa-Draa, who even lived in Casablanca’s elite areas.
Transferring to the slums to escape poverty and hunger
A profound analysis of the interview responses is necessary to answer our research questions. As a way of structuring the text, the investigation was divided into questions and answers. The first question is why the migrants left the countryside. Subsequently, the most important reasons for settling in Casablanca were analyzed. Then, the motivations of the slum dwellers for remaining in Casablanca were evaluated.
In terms of the reasons for leaving the Moroccan countryside, very high levels of concurrence were found in answers. Poverty was perceived as a strong push-factor in the natal settlement or village. There were significant differences in poverty between the various rural dwellers that lived at different times and other Moroccan countryside places. No matter what the extent of the poverty had been, it was always perceived as a vital push factor, as the interviewees tried to keep up with their standard of living or even improve it. The impossibility of achieving this in the countryside led to a desire to make their wishes come true in an urban environment.
However, perhaps it was not only the actual situation of poverty but also – and maybe even more – the prospect of staying poor in the future, which pushed the migrants out of rural Morocco. Based on the interviews, it is therefore concluded that hunger was frequently a prime motivation for leaving rural Morocco. Many migrants were more or less forced to leave the countryside to survive. Under these conditions, the barrier to go must have been very low. Since basic needs like food, clothes, running water, and electricity were very scarce or even absent, it is not strange that the desire to quit rural life was high. Indeed, many migrants left the Moroccan countryside.
Poverty and hunger were the results of unemployment and low income. There had been few employment opportunities in the countryside outside of the agricultural sector. Sooner or later, the interviewed masons and the electrician ended up jobless. They were unable to find a steady job in the rural environment; thus, poverty and hunger were inevitable. Farming was almost the only possible way of earning a living in rural Morocco; however, there were significant agricultural sector problems. The interviewees either possessed too little farmland or no-tillage land at all. Some people had sold their land because they urgently needed money. Others lost farmland through the dividing up of inheritance between siblings after parents retired or died.
Resources were short among the population, causing population pressure, which was indirectly felt like a strong push-factor. The shortage or absence of these capital goods is a fundamental cause of out-migration. However, to place oneself in landowners’ service was a bad alternative since farm laborers were underemployed and underpaid. Nevertheless, several interviewees convinced us that tending the herds and working from time-to-time on farmers’ fields in the surrounding areas did not lead to a sufficiently high income. Even if the whole family worked for other farmers, it was almost impossible to make ends meet. In particular, farm laborers found themselves in trouble in dry periods since they were the first to be laid off. Farmers took care of themselves first during times of drought. The farm laborers suffered severely during these periods.
Consistent with migration literature on the Moroccan rural exodus, the dry spells triggered out-migration. Several interviewees took their decision to leave their rural existence behind during a long period of drought. Indeed, dry spells caused rural dwellers serious problems. At times when the rains failed, unemployment, poverty, and hunger reached their peaks. Farmers did not need any extra labor during dry spells since harvests were poor and needed to decrease labor costs. Only when there were irrigation projects, such as those in Sidi Benor (in the Doukala region), could the droughts be intercepted, and the demand for farmhands continued.
There was a high level of concurrence among the answers regarding the reasons for settling in Casablanca. Every interviewee acknowledged that job possibilities had been the prime reason for going to and staying in Casablanca. The migrants hoped to find steadier work with a higher income in Dar el Beida, which would, in turn, allow them to improve their standard of living. Some had high expectations, while other interviewees had more humble desires. They said that they did not need any luxury, as they were accustomed to living in a noualla; and had experienced suffering from famines.
All the interviewees headed to Casablanca as they were convinced that Dar el Beida was the city that offered the best employment opportunities in the country. Their opinion was based on what other migrants – mainly family and friends – had told them. Many followed the example of family members and fellow villagers and moved to the metropolis in the Atlantic Ocean. Indeed, the movement to Casablanca was often part of a more significant chain of migration.
For the interviewees, it was important that they already had family and friends living in Casablanca. Indeed, this was so important that some of them would probably not have come to Dar el Beida if this kinship had been absent. In turn, their movement did not lead to further urban in-migration from the Doukala region. The presence of family, then, was not always imperative for rural-to-urban migration. However, for those who had a kinship in the city, the family acted as a vital pull factor.
Significantly, many interviewees imitated the migratory behavior of family, friends, and fellow villagers. Earlier rural-to-urban migrations appear to have caused a snowball effect, as migrants followed, almost slavishly, the example of their predecessors. In this way, the arrival of one migrant could lead to dozens of other countrymen’s settlement. However, the notion that Casablanca could offer good employment opportunities became a self-destroying prophecy since, time and again, more migrants left for Casablanca (with the idea of finding work in the city) than new jobs were created.
Many people did not go to a city, which was utterly unknown to them. In many cases, before migrants decided to settle in Casablanca, they had visited the town previously, and some had even worked already as day laborers in Dar el Beida. However, this did not mean that they had a realistic picture of their possibilities in the city.
Lastly, some interviewees did not go directly to Casablanca but initially searched for intervening opportunities, probably intending to reduce travel costs. El Jadida seems to have been an intervening opportunity as it was the central town in the Doukala region. Sidi Benor served as an intervening opportunity as well. It explains how the step migration came into being: migrants searched for the nearest place with employment opportunities. If they failed, however, to find a job, they moved on.
The commonalities in the answers given by the interviewees regarding their reasons for staying in Casablanca were studied. Firstly, the fact that marriage and children were born in Dar al Beida seems to have been a crucial reason to stay in the city. Moreover, job possibilities in Casablanca are generally still considered to be the best in the country. Another reason for visiting in Casablanca is the fact that the majority of our interviewees had, indeed, improved their quality of life. Even if, most of the time, they were not satisfied with the progress they had made, they were contented with their decision to come to Casablanca. Since hunger had been consigned to the past and now they had electricity and running water at their disposal, they lived better in Casablanca than they had in the countryside. Also, the lack of subsistence and the threat of drought mean that life in the country is more insecure than in Casablanca. You might not become rich in the informal sector of the urban economy, but you will not starve to death, as there is some money to earn daily. By contrast, farm laborers lose this possibility occasionally during dry spells, and consequently, life can become very insecure.
Life in Casablanca has yet other advantages, which have, without doubt, contributed to staying in the city. The same is right for education. In the countryside, it is common for children to have to walk for more than an hour to the nearest school, while in every city quarter of Casablanca there is at least a primary school. The fact that women can enjoy more freedom in the city is undoubtedly an important reason to stay in Casablanca. In the countryside, they could not leave their dwelling as they pleased, and they had fewer social contacts. In the city, they can usually go into the street during the day when they like. Neighbors visit each other, drink tea together, and help each other with domestic work.
Some people stayed in Casablanca as they became accustomed to the city, and they could not imagine living in the countryside again or in another town than Dar el Beida. The presence of family members also acted as a vital pull factor. People did not want to leave for another city where they had no relatives. Many stayed, therefore, in Casablanca, since they only had relatives in this city and the Moroccan countryside. Some urban in-migrants stayed as they only knew their natal village and Casablanca, and they preferred the latter.
Today, most slum dwellers do not want to leave the city as they hope that the government will help them live in a regular apartment shortly. Those migrants who leave Casablanca lose the possibility of getting a piece of land for free or a favorable mortgage, which would enable them to build a dwelling. Since this is probably the only possibility for many slum dwellers to live in a regular home, people do not want to quit the city had heard about the government program Villes sans bidonvilles. However, it is also true that some people cannot leave the city. They had built or purchased a slum dwelling, which they could no longer sell legally, as this became forbidden by the government. As a result, many slum dwellers lack the money to migrate and settle anywhere else.
There was a higher diversity in the answers to the questions concerning perceptions of Dar el Beida. Some interviewees had a very rosy picture of Casablanca. Some had no high expectations since they had already moved several times before, and their migration had not led to social-economic upward mobility. Some people said that they had no real picture of Casablanca before they came to the city.
During their stay in Casablanca, the interviewees who had had very high expectations became deeply unsatisfied, as they were unable to realize their dreams. The picture of Casablanca changed enormously for those disappointed urban in-migrants. These people had become pessimistic about employment opportunities and living conditions. Nevertheless, most of them had decided to stay in Dar el Beida, as they had improved their quality of life a little.
For some people, the picture of Dar el Beida remained virtually unchanged or slightly improved. Some of them were very disappointed by earlier movements, which had not led to upward social mobility. Since they lived better in Casablanca than they had done ever before, their idea about Casablanca had become more positive; logically, they wanted to stay in the city.
Negative selection consequences and self- destroying insights of the rural-to-urban migration in Casablanca
Comparing the results of the in-depth interviews with the theories about persistent rural-to-urban migration in Casablanca and tracing various corresponding features with the existing literature, the study cannot be explained entirely based on these theories. The thinking of most of the interviewees’ responses shows that the case of Casablanca differs from what it was expected, taking the Harris-Todaro model into account. This model assumes that rural-to-urban migrants give up stable, secure, low-paid employment in the countryside to find one of the few highly desirable, well-paid jobs in the modern sector of the urban economy. Thereby consciously taking into account the too high risk of unemployment upon arrival in Casablanca.
According to this model, the driving force behind ongoing rural-to-urban migration is the anticipated difference in wages between urban and rural environments. Considering Harris and Todaro, shantytowns grow in size and number due to a continuous flow of rural dwellers who are lured by the hope of becoming rich swiftly in the city. One of their model’s assumptions is that migrants have full knowledge of the state of the urban labor market. However, the empirical findings suggest that the opposite is the case. A large number of interviewees demonstrated a lack of awareness of the realities of unemployment in Casablanca. At the same time, many interviewees stated that they had no great expectations about upward social-economic mobility. It suggests that it is improbable that these rural-to-urban migrants have been attracted by the expectation of jobs with significantly higher wages. Moreover, almost none of the interviewees seem to have given up secure low-paid employment in the countryside to enter an urban ‘job-lottery’ consciously. Instead, migrants left the country because they had encountered huge problems making ends meet, and they chose to go to Casablanca as they expected that this was the city with the best chances of finding work.
Older literature on over-urbanization argues that push factors played a more critical role than pull factors in developing countries. From this perspective, migrants were pushed from their natal land, and the only place they could head for was the city. By contrast, in Western European history, rural-to-urban migrants were also pulled by the growing offer of employment in the urban industry. Although the push-pull approach has been criticized several times, it is worth noting that push-factors played a more critical role than pull-factors. The picture drawn by the interviewees corresponds to a great extent with this theoretical point of departure. Most of the interviewees alleged that they had left the countryside because they had been unable to keep their heads above water in their home village and had experienced hunger and poverty, both the result of massive un- and under-employment. As in many other Arab countries, Morocco’s country dwellers had to struggle with population pressures, resulting in an undeviating scarcity of livestock, arable land, and other essential rural capitals. The frequent droughts affect the living of peasants and agricultural workers further. Since rural development has long been neglected, employment opportunities outside the agricultural sector were scarce in rural Morocco. In this setting, it was untenable for many migrants to stay in their natal village during natural disasters and at other specific moments during the life course, mainly when family land was divided up among siblings. Some family members received too little farmland and too few cattle to sustain themselves and their families. They found it impossible to make ends meet. These individuals (and their families) were forced to leave their natal village and head for a significant Moroccan city. No real alternative existed. Non-agricultural employment was scarce in the Moroccan countryside. The opportunities for moving abroad became reduced due to the closure of the frontier with neighboring Algeria, the introduction of European visa requirements, and the rise of defensive barriers around the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla, and the increase in border control. Almost all Moroccan country dwellers that found themselves with economic problems lacked the financial resources to move to a foreign country. Furthermore, research has repeatedly shown that international migrants are rarely recruited among groups of the poorest and less skilled country dwellers.
For many migrants, the decision to move to Casablanca was made in the context of worsening circumstances at home, i.e., rising hunger and poverty (consequences of drought, the division of land, etc.). In most cases, the move from the countryside to Dar el Beida was –to refer to Petersen’s well-known migration typology – not innovative but rather, a conservative movement, as migrants were trying to keep their heads above water. Few migrants who ended up in the city’s shantytowns moved to Casablanca to improve their life situation dramatically. Many were already satisfied if they were able to earn some money to buy food. Indeed, the rural-to-urban migration process in consideration comes closest to what the geographer Ronald Skeldon identified as ‘a survival strategy rather than a pathway towards better opportunity. According to Skeldon, this type of migration is primarily restricted to the world’s poorest regions, i.e., Sub-Saharan African societies. Nevertheless, this study and the interviews have offered enough evidence to prove that poverty was a root cause of massive rural-to-urban migration towards Casablanca during the twentieth century. Indeed, almost every interviewee alleged that poverty and hunger had been driving forces behind their move to Casablanca.
That poverty and hunger in Morocco’s countryside were a severe threat is underlined by statistics on nutrition presented by Wout Lentjes. According to this Dutch human-geographer, in the year 1970, some 42 percent of Moroccans consumed only about 1,600 calories a day, while human beings require 2210 calories a day to remain healthy. Considering that Morocco’s urban dwellers consumed more than twice the quantity of meat than country-dwellers, it becomes clear that the problem of undernourishment was mainly restricted to Morocco’s countryside. It is reiterated by statistics, which show that urban Moroccans consumed 35 percent more dairy products and ate many more vegetables than their rural counterparts. There were, of course, marked differences in consumption between diverse social groups within Casablanca. However, according to interviewees, even slum dwellers could earn enough money in the city to buy sufficient food.
In contrast, in the countryside, they had regularly encountered famines, especially during droughts. Mortality statistics also support the idea that migrants were driven from their land by poverty and hunger. Whereas cities in Western European history have long been characterized as urban graveyards, life in Casablanca (and other cities in the developing world) was healthier than in the countryside. Although the statistics do not compare mortality figures in Casablanca’s shantytowns with the Moroccan countryside, the information gathered gives the assumption that slum dwellers live a healthier life than most countries Casablanca’s shantytown inhabitants eat more and have better access to health services than rural dwellers. Another critical factor is the water supply. Slum-dwellers have access to free drinking water all year round, while drinking water was scarce in rural Morocco. Most dwellings in the countryside were not connected to the mains, and periods of drought were frequent. Together, these factors explain why mortality in the city was higher than in the countryside. They point out that rural-to-urban migration towards Casablanca was the kind of survival strategy described by Skeldon.
Although the push factors in the Moroccan countryside had the most significant impact, rural-to-urban migration in the direction of Casablanca was also a result of pull factors in Dar el Beida. All interviewees appear to have decided to come to Casablanca because they believed that the city offered the country’s best employment opportunities. Therefore, anticipated job opportunities, rather than expected higher incomes, can be identified as the prime pull factor. The notion that Casablanca offered the best job opportunities was based on fellow villagers, friends, and family members’ experiences. Time and again, as migrants followed in the footsteps of earlier migrants, a snowball effect occurred, leading ever more people from the countryside (and other cities) to Dar el Beida. However, the hope of finding a job in Casablanca ended in a self-destroying prophecy, as more jobseekers flowed into the city than jobs were created. It is why shantytowns continued to exist and even grow in size and number. Family and friends played an important role, facilitating the movement from the countryside to Casablanca in how Josef Gugler has previously described: They helped them find shelter, and occasionally they helped them find a job. Perhaps even more importantly, friends and family supplied rural-to-urban migrants with information when they still lived in the countryside. Migrants primarily based their decisions to move precisely to Casablanca on this information.
However, no substantial evidence was found that migrants were consciously misled by earlier (return) migrants in how Bruce Grindal described the situation among the Sisala migrants of Ghana. In this case, a curious kind of snowball effect took place where return migrants deliberately supplied fellow villagers with misinformation about their own migration experience. Instead of admitting that they had lived in great poverty in Ghana’s cities, these return migrants invented success stories to improve their social standing in their natal village. As a result, new villagers were regularly driven into Ghana’s cities, where they encountered situations that were far removed from the picture they originally had in mind. The total number of rural-to-urban migrants who have been completely misled by a third party is minimal. Indeed, the findings instead confirm John Caldwell’s conclusion on a migration survey in Ghana: most migrants were satisfied with their move from the countryside to the city as they had managed to improve their living standards. In this sense, Casablanca’s population explosion is no paradox at all. Shantytowns grew in size and number as their inhabitants lived a better and healthier life than they had done previously in the countryside.
Moreover, migrants declared that they thought that their future, and that of their children, was more secure in Casablanca’s slums than in the countryside. It explains why migrants continued to move to Dar el Beida when unemployment was high and shantytowns growing and made clear why return migration was a limited phenomenon throughout the twentieth century. Casablanca continued to attract migrants from the countryside because even the city’s slum dwellers lived a better life than many Moroccan rural dwellers. The situation for migrants in Dar el Beida was better than in other Moroccan cities.
By concluding that rural-to-urban migrants’ life was better in the shantytowns than in the countryside, it is not to overlook the problems experienced by slum dwellers. Poverty and misery are omnipresent elements of slum life and are serious threats to the inhabitants’ health and well being. For this reason, the ‘bright-lights’ theory of rural-to-urban migration that states that rural-to-urban migrants were mainly pulled into the city by the extensive entertainment on offer in urban areas does not apply. For many Moroccans, a life in Casablanca with its entertainment sector offering shopping centers, cocktail bars, cinemas and discos, theatres, and high-class restaurants might have been much more appealing than a village life in which key activities included tending herds, sowing the land and harvesting its yields. However, the studies clearly show that entertainment was not on the minds of rural-to-urban migrants, who were occupied with more urgent things in life like supplying the family with food and a roof over their heads. In other emerging countries, the majority of the migrants in Dar el Beida required the fiscal resources to experience the several varieties of entertainment in the city.
Nevertheless, there is no evidence that the rural-to-urban migration process is part of a family strategy for survival in the way Gugler described. It does not appear to be the case that the interviewees headed to Casablanca to contribute to the countryside’s family budget. Often, young single people seem to have made up their minds to leave the countryside to improve their life situation, while married people did not leave wives and children for a long time in the country. If migrants decided to settle permanently in Casablanca, other family members joined them. Furthermore, most rural-to-urban migrants who settled in Casablanca were unable to send large amounts of money home, as they were finding it problematic enough sustaining themselves. In this sense, one should not confuse internal migration with international labor migration. Hein de Haas’ migration and development research in Morocco’s Todgha Valley has made it clear that international migration is much more rewarding for departure areas than internal migration. For the simple reason, migrant households’ income and living conditions do not significantly differ from non-migrant households. With limited earnings, most internal migrants are unable to send large remittances to family members at home, let alone invest in departure areas. It is even more real for those migrants who ended up in shantytowns. Nevertheless, according to André Adam, some wealthier migrants from the Souss region leave their wives and children with their parents in their natal village. At the same time, they move to Casablanca, where they work and sleep in their grocer shops, regularly sending home remittances.
Furthermore, it is unconvincing that the migration stream’s composition can be explained based on differentials in access to the various segments of the urban labor market. In Morocco, the selection of who leaves the countryside and who stays is not automatically linked to the opportunities they may enjoy in the city. Therefore, those who leave rural Morocco are determined solely by the situation in the countryside. Based on the interviews, those rural dwellers that lived under the worst circumstances are the ones who are first inclined to decide to leave the countryside. These migrants appear to be the least educated and most impoverished rural dwellers.
Itis the poorest and least educated who moved to Casablanca’s slums, i.e., that some adverse selection was at work, conflicts with the common acceptance in migration literature that, on the whole, the most impoverished migrants do not move, i.e., who moves, where and when is believed to be the result of positive selection effects. Positive selection in this context means that it is primarily the better educated, wealthier, and more enterprising country dwellers who migrate to a city or abroad. The Dutch geographer Hein de Haas explains this selection effect based on the assumption that a certain threshold of wealth is generally required to bear the risks and opportunity costs of migration, both internal and international migrants do not tend to come from the poorest households measured in terms of land possession and income before migration. Since international migration costs are generally considerably higher than the costs involved in internal moves, one might expect to find the highest positive selection effect among international migrants. Besides wealth and income, education may also form an essential factor since lower educated rural men and women are likely to have less access to migration information than higher educated rural dwellers.
Consequently, this first group is less inclined to move. Hein de Haas found that, except for a small group of successful businessmen, most ‘stayers’ in the Todgha valley were poor and poorly educated. By contrast, international migrants tended to be recruited among wealthier families, while internal migrants were distinctly better educated than stayers. Poverty was also more dispersed among stayers than among internal migrants. It leads De Haas to conclude that ‘migration is more than a mere survival strategy,’ as those who move to a city increase their chances of finding higher-paid urban employment; equally, their chances of moving abroad grow by moving to an urban center. Migration is instead a prerogative than a last resort. In terms of access to material, human and social capital, the poorest are forced to stay as they cannot afford the costs and risks associated with migration’. These conclusions were challenged for more extensive parts of Morocco, as it was convincing both positive and negative selection effects were at work. Moreover, it is not easy to conclude that moving to a city increases someone’s chances of acquiring a better-paid job.
In terms of international labor migration, the sociologist Georges Reniers (1999) has proven adverse selection effects convincingly. Reniers studied the characteristics of Moroccan laborers who moved to Belgium in the 1960s and 1970s. He found that in the context of education, positive selection occurred solely among migrants of urban descent. By contrast, Moroccan migrants, who moved from the countryside to Belgium, were negatively selected. The migrants from the rural Rif and Souss were generally not as well educated as non-migrants. According to Reniers, therefore, it is plausible that Moroccan migrants from rural areas responded mainly to push factors at the place of origin. Their urban counterparts’ migration behavior can instead be interpreted as a reaction to pull factors at the destination. The Belgian sociologist labels the former behavior as ‘conservative’ and interprets the latter as ‘innovative.’ The case of rural out-migration in Belgium’s direction allows the possibility that over even greater distances, migration can be a reaction to worsening living conditions at home. Equally, it shows that, for some out-migrants, rural out-migration can be a survival strategy, while for other groups of out-migrants, it is an innovative action. Thus, positive and negative selection effects may work simultaneously among different subgroups of migrants with the same destination.
The positive selection effects were at work concerning rural-to-urban migration within the Moroccan state. Indeed, national censuses and migration surveys have proven that migrants who moved to a city were, in general, better educated than rural dwellers that stayed in the countryside. For example, the population census of 1982 showed that 82.1 percent of Moroccan country dwellers were illiterate compared to 69 percent of urban dwellers who had been born in the countryside. In general, urban dwellers were positively selected concerning literacy, and that this might be true for wealth and income as well, although probably to a lesser extent. It should come as no surprise. After all, those rural dwellers with higher educational and professional ambitions outside the agricultural sector were quite likely to fulfill these ambitions in urban Morocco (or abroad), as industry and services were almost exclusively found in cities. Therefore, it is logical that urban areas attracted the better educated, wealthier, and more enterprising rural dwellers, the majority of whom indeed achieved success upon arrival in the city due to the valuable skills and resources they brought with them.
Moreover, these migrants responded to a real job offer. Even if the demand for labor became a self-destroying prophecy, as more people moved to Casablanca than there were vacancies, the impact of this is likely to have been limited, as these migrants were skilled and enterprising enough to create their employment. Other members of this group of migrants may have moved on to other cities or even abroad to try their luck elsewhere. Their resources allowed them to be highly mobile and to react to pulls from diverse places. The stayers among these positively selected migrants did not end up in shantytowns as their labor market success allowed them to live in better housing conditions. Indeed, many residents in Casablanca’s ville nouvelle and the relatively affluent city quarter of Belvédère were born in the countryside. These rural-to-urban migrants have experienced tremendous upward social mobility.
However, apart from skilled, highly successful migrants, whose integration process was relatively untroubled, the city of Casablanca also received hundreds of thousands of deprived country dwellers, who were poorly educated and had few resources, which meant they were inadequately prepared for the urban labor market. The integration of these newcomers into urban society usually faltered, and, for the most part, this group ended up in shantytowns. The negatively selected migrants originated mainly from Casablanca’s hinterland, i.e., the Chaouia and Doukala regions, as developing country dwellers were only able to travel over small distances due to restricted financial means. It is unlikely that Hein de Haas found evidence of adverse selection among the rural-to-urban migrants he studied. There are simply no large cities in the Todgha valley; both Marrakech and Agadir have located hundreds of kilometers away from this region. Smaller urban centers like Ouarzazate and Errachidia are relatively close. Still, since these towns have developed little or no industry (apart from the film industry in Ouarzazate, which employs many local people as background actors), they are likely to have been unattractive to all kinds of unskilled country dwellers. In this setting, it was the poor who stayed where they were, while members of wealthier households were the ones who tried to improve their situation by moving to major cities or abroad.
If negative selection is at work, this implies that migration is some survival strategy. The migrants involved are poorer and less educated than the average population at their place of origin. Their movement is a reaction to push factors, i.e., worsening living conditions at home. These migrants left their natal soil to overcome the threats of hunger and poverty. In times of crisis, this migration type increased, as the most impoverished country dwellers were incapable of dealing with problematic situations like drought, crop failure, land partitions, etc. The interviews show convincingly that this was indeed the case among the rural-to-urban migrants who ended up in Casablanca’s shantytowns. It was explained that all their move to Casablanca had been to escape hunger and poverty. In times of crisis, these migrants had become unable to carry on life in Morocco’s countryside. Small peasants produced too few crops to live from, while the agricultural laborers encountered serious problems when crop failures rendered their labor power redundant. The scarcity of food, drinking water, and money drove these migrants into the city, where they hoped to be able to cobble together the bare essentials for survival. These are why scholars like Moussa Kerzazi and Mustapha Nachoui found a direct link between rural out-migration and precipitation. In periods of a massive drought, many times, more migrants entered Casablanca than in periods when rainfall was abundant. Those extra numbers of migrants entering Casablanca in times of drought were indeed not positively selected migrants. They were destitute country dwellers from the Chaouia and Doukala region that had become unable to make ends meet in times of drought. For this specific group of new urban dwellers, migration was not a question of exercising a prerogative but a last resort.
However, Casablanca’s slums evolved not only because the city received poor, unskilled urban in-migrants who were unprepared for the urban labor market, but also because most of these ‘unsuccessful’ migrants never left the city again, despite many of them being unable to find a regular job. In Western Europe, those migrants who were unable to find stable employment usually decided to try their luck in another city. Many of Casablanca’s unemployed urban in-migrants remained in the shantytowns, where they lived better than they had done in the countryside and because job opportunities in other Moroccan cities were worse than in Casablanca. Furthermore, as those unemployed stayers were, primarily, negatively selected migrants, leaving may well have been no real option since minimal resources constrained them from moving to another city. These restricted resources, combined with a lack of skills, explain why most of these migrants had to content themselves with jobs in the informal sector of the economy. For this specific group of rural-to-urban migrants, Casablanca’s move was not automatically coupled with chances of a higher paid job or moving abroad; these negatively selected migrants lacked the resources to realize such ambitious goals.
Therefore, it is concluded that over-urbanization was caused by a specific group of migrants, those who were negatively selected. These migrants flooded Casablanca despite there being no real demand for their labor power. Consequently, their integration process in the labor market was too problematic, and many of them found themselves in the informal sector of the economy. This group of migrants had not left their home village as a reaction to a real demand for their working power in the city. It was a reaction to worsening circumstances in the countryside caused by uneven development. The surplus offer of unskilled laborers with few resources resulted in massive structural unemployment. The labor market mismatch became greater as more, and more ‘unwanted’ rural-to-urban migrants entered Casablanca and never left the city again. These migrants were not misled, they did not take part in a job-lottery, and the economy’s entertainment sector did not lure them. Instead, they were driven from their land due to hunger and poverty caused by uneven development. As these migrants were able to end the hunger in Casablanca, they stayed in this city. A considerable number of them lacked the financial resources to move on. However, the structural analysis of rural-to-urban migration shows that unskilled laborers’ situation was even worse in other Moroccan cities than in Casablanca. It explains why many of these negatively selected migrants never felt the urge to leave Dar el Beida’s shantytowns.