Edoardo L. G. Bernasconi (Independent scholar)
Learning from the Douar. Michel Écochard and the Modern Invention of the Semi-Rural Moroccan Habitat
At the end of WWII, after roughly thirty years of French colonial-ism, Morocco was facing a tremendous economic boom, but al-so an alarming rural exodus to the industrial cities on the coast which, in turn, had to deal with overpopulation and the phenomenon of the bidonvilles. At first, the article retraces the studies on traditional Moroccan urban, semi-rural, and rural settlements, carried out by Michel Écochard’s Service de l’Urbanisme from 1957 to 1951. Learning from local dwelling customs, the Service conceived a modern urban block model aimed at bringing wholesomeness to urban bidonvilles, as well as modernity in the countryside to stem the migrations. The essay then analyses the Service’s typological studies on the courtyard housing unit, the basic cell of the urban fabric, and compares this with analogous coeval designs, influenced by Écochard’s ideas, realized both in Morocco and worldwide. The final goal is to form a genealogy of architectural designs that, reinterpreting form time to time the courtyard house, can show the existence of a direct relationship between rural landscape, dwelling modes, and modern architecture.