Casablanca: colonial myths and architectural ventures

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Monacelli Press, Jan 1, 2003 - Architecture - 480 pages
Casablanca is a city of international renown, not least because of its urban structures and features. Celebrated by colonial writers, filmed by Hollywood, magnet for Europeans and Moroccans, Casablanca is above all an exceptional collection of urban spaces, houses, and gardens. While it is true that Casablanca developed as a port city well before the introduction of the French in 1907, it unquestionably ranks among the most significant urban creations of the twentieth century, attracting remarkable teams of architects and planners. Their commissions came from clients who were interested in innovation and modernization, thereby fostering the emergence of Casablanca as a laboratory for legislative, technological, and visual experimentation.

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commissioned provocative buildings -- is drawn from French and Moroccan archives, including hundreds of previously unpublished photographs.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

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Casablanca: colonial myths and architectural ventures

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Catapulted to fame by Bogart and Bergman in the classic film, the modern Casablanca nevertheless suffers a reputation as a third-rate destination for tourists and scholars. Cohen (architecture, NYU ... Read full review


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About the author (2003)

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

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

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