For the latest episode of Why Morocco podcast, architects Imad Dahmani and Lahbib el Moumni and I wandered around Casablanca, exploring some of the modernist architecture (residential, commercial and government) throughout the vast city. Passionate about architecture, Imad and Lahbib wanted to show me a few of the highlights from the Modern Casablanca Map printed by MAMMA Group, an association they founded dedicated to conserving modernist architecture in Casablanca.
Over the span of a few hours, the three of us cruised around the Californie neighbourhood admiring unique villas with views of the Atlantic coast, through the bustling downtown core spotting densely populated apartment blocks, and walked around the fabulously brutalist Postal Sorting Centre. We chatted about Moroccan touches added to brutalist buildings (think painted exteriors and touches such as Moroccan zellig tilework decorating balconies) and leading Moroccan modernist artists who created installations adorning the exteriors of such immense buildings.
It was something like a scavenger hunt as we ticked off highlights from the Modern Casablanca Map, hot off the press on 8 November, and featuring 50 buildings across the city the association deems noteworthy. They told me, however, that this is a significantly reduced number from their preparatory research.
And because they spoke with excitement about the launch event and the buildings we would have access to, I knew I had to attend, if only for one day. So on Friday 8 November 2019, I hopped aboard the train, direction Casablanca (the train linking Marrakech and Casablanca now only takes 2.5 hours and it’s a delight) to personally collect my copy of the Modern Casablanca Map. Imad and Lahbib led an enthusiast group through the Ateliers VETE, the Wholesale Market, the Boumazel Market and the Sidi Othmane Housing Development, providing insight in to the country’s post-independence architecture.
In the meantime though, listen in as Imad chats about the Modern Casablanca Map and exploring beyond the city’s art deco downtown (although tip: many buildings are noted just blocks away in the city centre): https://mandyinmorocco.com/podcast/why-morocco-026-imad-dahmani-on-modernist-architecture-in-casablanca/.
Side note: You may remember that I interviewed Lahbib for an article in the Independent about Casablanca’s art deco architecture and then again for episode seven of Why Morocco about brutalist architecture).
If, after listening, you want to start planning a Moroccan vacation, get in touch and I’ll put you in contact with Cris from Sun Trails Morocco, a private tour operator based in Marrakech. Having travelled with Sun Trails and Cris personally, I can attest that Cris is just genuinely passionate about discovering the hidden gems dotting the country. And meeting people like architects and musicians undertaking interesting initiatives. He then puts all this together in an itinerary for guests who are looking for more than just a standard tour of Morocco. He’s been on the podcast twice, so if you want to find out more, check out episode one and episode 19.
And one last request, if you are a fan of Why Morocco, I would be so grateful if you rate and review this podcast on your favourite channel or spread the love by sharing on your social media networks.