Located on the Atlantic Coast approximately 90 km south of the capital city Rabat, Casablanca is the largest city, not only in Morocco, but the Maghreb. It is the nation's chief port, and the business and financial center of the country.
Originally known as Anfa, the city of Casablanca started out as a small settlement. It was renamed Casa Branca by the Portuguese who took control of the city in 1468 CE/872 AH. They rebuilt the city and changed its name to "Casa Branca" Like Casablanca, a term that came into use when Portugal became part of the Spanish Kingdom, it means "White House." In 1755/1168 AH the city was largely destroyed by an earthquake and abandoned by the European population. It was rebuilt by Sultan Sidi Mohammed Ben Abdellah, during whose reign the harbor became essential to sugar, tea, wool, and other trade. From 1912 to 1956 the city was part of the French Protectorate, who continued to use the Spanish name. The first governor, Marshal Lyautey developed the ambitious plan to may the city the economic capital of Morocco. In 1953 Michel Écochard devised a linear extension plan that would stretch between the ports of Casablanca and Mohammedia.
The low buildings of the medina contrast starkly with the skyscrapers of the new city. According to the World Population Review, the 2015 population of the city itself was significantly over 3 million, with the population of the metropolitan area being estimated at approximately 5 million.
Recipient of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 1986.
This low-income residential community for 25'000 people consists of over 4'000 units organised around a large central square in which the mosque, markets and festival hall are located. Surrounding this central area on three sides are six housing clusters made up of parallel rows of attached four- and five-storey apartment blocks separated by pedestrian streets that give access to all buildings. Entrances face each other and open staircases act as communal balconies. The planning and design approach was based on the observation that for low-income, formerly rural or nomadic people, public space, pedestrian networks and the interrelation of housing groups are more important than the design organisation of the individual units. Furthermore, safety and security were seen to be of great importance. The jury noted that Dar Lamane "represents an innovative approach to planning. Gateways mark the entrance to the shopping streets and link the clusters of housing; their introduction is a brilliant device to provide a sense of territoriality which is fundamental to the success of a housing project. Even more important is that the gateway embodies many layers of meanings and functions that are deeply rooted in Moroccan culture."