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Separation Architecture: Confronting Spatialised Orientalism in Marrakech

Part 2 Dissertation 2020
Lydia Whitehouse
University of Sheffield | UK
Across human history, Europe has assumed superiority over non-European nations. Colonial regimes have justified inequality, domination and violence to bring lasting social and structural change, but have also left physical imprints on our cities - demolishing local architecture in favour of European-style modernism.

In 1912, France became joint Protectorate of Morocco, and, over 44 years, used urban planning and architecture as a tool of domination and control. However France adopted a different approach in Morocco to Algeria or Tunisia. Traditional medinas across nine major towns were preserved, with exclusive western-style neighbourhoods built beyond the boundary walls. This became known as the ‘dual-city’ where local services were doubled-up, creating two distinct centres and effectively separating wealthy Europeans from local Moroccans.

Now, 100 years since France’s building project began, this dissertation explores how colonial urbanism continues to impact Morocco’s most famous ‘dual-city’, Marrakech. The motivations for dual-city planning are examined in relation to the ‘Other’: emerging from existing practices of ‘Orientalism’, producing social separation through contrasting urban and architectural language, and curating medinas as ‘authentic’ Moroccan space. Finally, its legacy is examined in Marrakech’s growing tourism industry, where colonial attitudes associating heritage and modernism with race risk being reinforced by design.

Lydia Whitehouse

Emma Cheatle
Mr Satwinder Samra
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