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Casablanca is a city of international renown, not least because of its urban
structures and features. Celebrated by colonial writers, filmed by Hollywood,
magnet for Europeans and Moroccans, Casablanca is above all an exceptional
collection of urban spaces, houses, and gardens. While it is true that
Casablanca developed as a port city well before the introduction of the French
in 1907, it unquestionably ranks among the most significant urban creations of
the twentieth century, attracting remarkable teams of architects and planners.
Their commissions came from clients who were interested in innovation and
modernization, thereby fostering the emergence of Casablanca as a laboratory
for legislative, technological, and visual experimentation.
Having studied the city for ten years, Jean-Louis Cohen and Monique Eleb
trace, from the late nineteenth century to the early 1960s, the rebirth of a
once-forgotten port and its metamorphosis into a teeming metropolis that is an
amalgam of Mediterranean culture from Tunisia, Algeria, Spain, and Italy. The
extensive presentation of the significant buildings of this hybrid city --
where, alongside the French, Muslim and Jewish Moroccan patrons commissioned
provocative buildings -- is drawn from French and Moroccan archives, including
hundreds of previously unpublished photographs. Cohen and Eleb focus as much on
Casablanca's diverse social fabric as its urban spaces, chronicling the
clients, inhabitants, and inventive architects who comprise the human component
of an essential yet overlooked episode of modernism.