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.
Michel Ecochard was head
of Morocco’s Department of Urban Planning from 1946 to 1953. In order to replace the spreading
“bidonvilles”, he developed a specific urban planning concept, a grid, in order to construct “housing for the
greatest number”, mainly migrants from rural areas. This was based on a
“trame”, a courtyard house typology measuring eight by eight metres,
comprising two rooms and an outdoor space. His plan for Casablanca, approved in
1952, led him into conflict with developers and provoked his resignation. This book is an account of his plans for the city and the problems he encountered.