Architecture Design Option Studio — Ground up: Transfiguring the Abattoirs of Casablanca (Choi/Oualalou)

4.145 or 4.153
Required of: 
MArch students

Architects often enter a project long after its critical limits have been defined, as one small player in a predetermined process. They are not participants in what occurs before their entry into a project, nor are they often involved in the life of a project after it is built. This studio posits that architectural strategies should be integrated into a project long before and long after the conventional point of entry. The architect’s perimeter of action is what we will try to expand and redefine.

The project site is an abandoned slaughterhouse complex in the city of Casablanca, Morocco. Constructed in 1922 at the periphery of the colonial city, the 13-acre Abattoir superblock has been engulfed by the city’s expansion.  Dilapidated and vacant for many years, the Abattoirs were slated for demolition before community groups began to occupy the space in order to stage a series of cultural ‘happenings.’ The popular success of these grassroots interventions has compelled city officials to consider launching a municipally-funded conversion of the complex. 

The objective of this studio is to transform the site into a cultural incubator for the city of Casablanca. The students will commence the semester with a trip to Morocco to visit the site and meet with local non-profit associations, residents, and the client (municipal officials).  After these on-site discussions, students will create a programmatic framework for the project in collaboration with these future user groups.  The studio will then move into a collective analysis phase to determine the perimeters of intervention within/around the site. The design process will also incorporate strategies of economic viability to safeguard the future sustainability of the proposed project. The goal of the studio is to develop a project’s conditions of existence and not simply its formal incarnation.