Casablanca: analysis and research in the afropolis

This book has been developed as part of the graduation studio, offered by the Chair of Methods & Analysis, at the Department of Architecture at the TU Delft. The education of the chair engages with a series of pressing issues in developing territories, as well as with the increasing cross-cultural character of contemporary architectural practice. The work presented here tries to find appropriate instruments and methods of analysis and design in complex, foreign cultural contexts, in which European architects are challenged to develop innovative approaches and techniques, as a response to particular cultural, social, religious, environmental, political and economic conditions.
Finding a balance between local cultures and techniques on the one hand, and global developments on the other, seems to be an important challenge for the young architects who present their work here. Against this cross-cultural background, their explorations investigate a set of pressing issues in the rapidly developing urban territory of Casablanca, Morocco. Historically used as a port of replenishment and regional control by different occupants, today Casablanca is one of the major urban centres of North Africa. People from the countryside have moved to Casablanca in different waves, to work in the large port and its related commerce, but also in the growing service industry – one of the most important in Morocco. Meanwhile Casablanca remains a rich resource of small entrepreneurship, of strong craftsmanship and of an emerging creative industry. As a result, the city is rapidly expanding and several issues are at stake. Among them, how to house in a qualitative way the newcomers to the city? What sort of infrastructure is necessary to cater for the growing population and tourism? How can the permanent (inhabitants) and temporary (tourists) residents of the city share collective and public spaces? What roles and spaces can we assign to small-scale craft in the city? In the following pages, these and other questions are productively addressed.