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Casablanca Chandigarh A Report on Modernization


Exploring the Site: Chandigarh Before Chandigarh Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret embarked on their first trip to the Indian subcontinent on 20 February 1951, ­taking an Air India flight from Geneva to Bombay (the city now known as Mumbai). After a stopover in New Delhi, the architects reached the mountain city of Simla, the summertime seat of government during the British colonial period. On 23 February, the two travelled by train to Kalka, from where they were driven in Jeeps to the site chosen for the new Punjabi capital. The initial encounter with the site had a profound ­impact on both architects, who were moved by the ­tranquility of the area’s cultivated fields and the serene majesty of its natural landscape. Two days after their ­arrival, Le Corbusier wrote to Yvonne, his wife: “We’re on the site of our city, under a splendid sky, in the midst of a timeless countryside…”1 That “timeless countryside” was a gently sloped plain, framed in the distance by the Siwalik, the southernmost mountain range of the ­Himalayas. Two rivers marked the eastern and western boundaries of the future city’s site, while a seasonal stream carved a sinuous valley in the middle of the plain, which Le Corbusier called a “vallée d’érosion.” 2 The area was dotted with small rural villages connected by a dense net­­work of pedestrian paths crisscrossing cultivated fields. Pierre Jeanneret took photographs of this bucolic microcosm, depicting small earth-and-adobe houses with their ornaments and simple furniture; industrious in­ habitants engaged in their occupations; buffalos with long horns; carts with wooden wheels; great mango trees; and tree-lined ditches which served to irrigate the land. The two designers were enthralled by the harmony and abundance of human life they found unfolding in this peaceful yet populated part of the country. On the first page of one of his notebooks, which was later known as “Album Punjab,” Le Corbusier wrote, “Shall we go so far as to ­destroy the villages?” and, immediately after, commented on the need to “re-establish the natural conditions” and “preserve the peasants’ pathways.”3 Later that day, he 74

Letter from Le Corbuiser to his wife Yvonne Gallis, from Chandigarh, 25 February 1951, Fondation Le Corbusier, R ­ 1-12-96, also quoted in Nicholas Fox Weber, Le Corbusier: A Life (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2008), 542. 2 A sketch of the “erosion valley” as it appeared before the construction of Chandigarh. See: Le Corbusier and Willy Boesiger, Le Corbusier: Œuvre complète, 1946–1952, ­vol. 5 (Zurich: Éditions Girsberger, 1953), 132. 3 Le Corbusier, “Album Punjab,” 1951, Fondation Le Corbusier, fol. 1, W1-5-3-001. 1

Le Corbusier on his way to explore the site of the future Chandigarh, c. 1951. Photograph by Pierre J足 eanneret. Fonds Pierre Jeanneret, CCA, ARCH264657


Everyday life in a village in the vicinity of the site selected for the new 足capital, 1951. Photograph by Pierre Jeanneret. Fonds Pierre Jeanneret, CCA, ARCH264682


Le Corbusier (1887–1965)  Sketchbook “R63,” fol. 688, 690 (3 March 1961), in Le Corbusier, Le Corbusier Sketchbooks, vol. 4, 1957-1964 (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1985), also ­quoted in Beatriz Colomina, “Towards a Global Architect,” Domus, no. 946 (April 2011): 83. 2  Sketchbook “E23,” fol. 628, 629, in Le Corbusier, Le ­Corbusier ­Sketchbooks, vol. 2, 1950-1954, also quoted in Colomina, ­“Towards a Global Architect,” 83. 3 Letter from Le Corbusier to his wife Yvonne Gallis, 26 February 1951, Fondation Le Corbusier, R1-12-87, also quoted in Nicholas Fox Weber, Le Corbusier: A Life (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2008), 545. 4 Letter from Le Corbusier to his wife, 4 March 1951, ­Fondation Le Corbusier, ­R1-12-89, also quoted in ­Weber, Le C ­ orbusier: A Life, 546. 1

Le Corbusier during one of his visits to India. Aga Khan Trust for Culture


In February 1951, two months after accepting the commission from Nehru to design the new capital of Punjab, Le Corbusier embarked on a journey that would change his life and would lead him, a quarter century after his Urbanisme, to finally build a city from scratch. Le Corbusier turned India into his new homeland and the airplane into his second home: “We take off in Air India, my usual seat Number 5 = huge space in Super Constellation. … I refused the Boeing because it’s American taste, even when run by the ­Indians! Constellation 550 km instead of 1,100. But here I am at home, in airborne India this aeroplane asylum of salvation.”1 Le Corbusier travelled to India twice a year, staying about a month each time. Over the following fourteen years, until his death in 1965, he made twenty-three trips to ­India, for a total of about 104 weeks. His destination was primarily Chandigarh, though the Indian subcontinent offered him ­ the possibility to build more than one masterpiece, including the Millowners’ Association Building and the villa for ­Manorama Sarabhai, both designed for the well-to-do and cultivated elite of Ahmedabad.

In November 1951, during his second trip, Le Corbusier noted in his sketch pad: “Plane 2½ hours Paris-Rome, 4½ RomeCairo, 9 Cairo-Bombay, 3¼ Bombay-­ Delhi. I have been in the plane since 2 o’clock Saturday. It is Monday noon. I am arriving in Delhi. I have never been so relaxed and so alone.” “Total comfort,” he wrote else­ where, “my seat number 5 [a window seat], alone, admirable one-man seat.”2 With his sense of constant fascination and excitement, the flights that carried Le Corbusier over the plains of northern India became a veritable instru­ ment of the project. In his sketchbooks the architect jotted down observations on the regularity of the agricultural fields, the paths of canals and waterways, the permanence of monumental structures such as the gardens and the cities of the Moghul period, and the power of the horizon line at various hours of the day. We can glean his excitement for the new capital from the letters he sent to his mother and his wife. “I’m telling you, Von, I’m making here, at last, the crowning work of my life, among these Indians who are extraordinarily civilized people.”3 In another letter: “We have wiped out the American who would have imported to India the American ideas I con­ demn.”4 “The American” was, of course, Albert Mayer, whose earlier plan of Chandigarh Le Corbusier considered an outright mistake. But it was also clear that even at the foot of the Himalayas, Le Corbusier was incapable of forgetting his disillusionment from recent personal defeats such as the UN Headquarters and his perpetual grumbling about the world’s neglect of his œuvre. In this respect, two episodes are indicative of such constant change of register: the meeting with Nehru during his second trip, in 1951, and

a letter he sent to Sigfried ­Giedion explaining his experience in Chandigarh in December 1952. In the “Album Nivola,” where he kept a record of his conversation with Nehru, Le Corbusier wrote down the words he addressed to the pandit: “May I present my respect and declare that I bring and shall bring all my intelligence and also all my sensibility and my heart to this task which ­delights me as the crown of my career: in humility, even in poverty, to free architecture from its dead crust, to express it and give it to the greatness of youth.”5 Obviously, words spoken in a pure state of grace and flattery. On the other hand, the ire, and wounded pride ­bordering on paranoia: “Mr. Le Corbusier, we ask that you shut up, that you never show up again, that you make yourself non-existent! Every time you’re present, gunpowder begins to explode! … The Americans do not let you in. All the friends are nice, but I am the public danger.”6 At times, the cancellation of a trip marked moments of obvious controversy. On the oc­ casion of the opening ceremony of the new capital, planned for 7 October 1953, and which Le ­Corbusier did not attend, the architect wrote a fiery letter to Nehru: “Your Excellency and Friend, I think you should be acquainted on the day of the Opening Ceremony of Chandigarh—­ a halcyon day full of lightheartedness—of the sad financial plight of your Architect, your Town Planner, Le Corbusier, the animating spirit of the town. He is in debt of several millions because the Punjab Government has not yet payed [sic]


him … Since two years and ten months I have devoted nearly the whole of my activity to In­ dia thereby neglecting to undertake more profitable surveys. … At 66 years of age I have never been in such a desperate financial plight. Meanwhile, all over the world, the public opinion praises Chandigarh, India and the Indians. … My grief is immeasurable…”7 Le Corbusier went for the last time to Chandigarh in April 1964, for the opening of the Palace of the General Assembly. Construction had been completed about two years earlier, but the ceremony had been delayed to await the installation of the giant enamelled door that the architect had designed and whose production he had personally supervised. On that occasion Le Corbusier and Nehru had a brief encounter, in which the architect forcefully asked that the monument of the Open Hand be finally placed in the Capitol area. For Le ­Corbusier, the Open Hand would convey a message of brotherhood in the midst of the Cold War. Not by chance, in an earlier message to the pandit, the architect had written: “The modern world is torn between U.S.A. and the U.S.S.R. The Asiatic East is gathering together. … At this precise moment there could not be a more significant place.”8 This note is further proof of how much Chandigarh and its construction meant for Le Corbusier: The city would be the accomplishment of what the architect, throughout his life, considered universal, ancient as the Parthenon and at the same time completely modern.

Notes from the meeting ­between Le Corbusier and Prime Minister Nehru, 22 November 1951, in “Album Nivola,” ­ Fondation Le ­Corbusier, ­W1-8-123-001. Author’s translation. 6 Le Corbusier to Giedion, 9 December 1952, gta Archives, ETH Zurich. Author’s translation. 7 Le Corbusier to Nehru, 22 September 1953, Fondation Le Corbusier, E2-176-177, also quoted in Weber, Le ­Corbusier: A Life, 605-606. 8 Le Corbusier to Nehru, 26 June 1963, Fondation Le Corbusier, G3-3-397-398, also quoted in Weber, Le ­Corbusier: A Life, 605-606. 5

The site of the future Chandigarh, with one of the native trees punctuating the plain, 1951. Photograph by Pierre Jeanneret. Fonds Pierre Jeanneret, CCA, ARCH264635 The most common trees were the mango (Mangifera indica), white 足mulberry (Morus alba), kikar tree 足(Acacia arabica), ber (Zizyphus jujuba), farash (Tamarix aphylla) and sheesham (Dalbergia sissoo).


wrote of his desire to “maintain the country routes with the trees and their width as they cross through the city.”4 These words reflect not only a European’s thrill in discovering an archaic and almost mythical world pulsating with life, but also a strong will to seize elements of design yielded by the location and the natural way of life of its inhabitants. This discovery led Le Corbusier to develop a firm belief that the site’s system of small settlements and pathways must not be eliminated but rather integrated into the layout of the future city. Equally fascinating for the two architects was the discovery of the scenic potential of the site. On 23 February, next to a tiny sketch that captures the angularity of the “erosion valley” with respect to the distant mountains, Le Corbusier noted that “the landscape (the mountains) is very beautiful.”5 On the following day, he wrote: “The mountain range must be an essential feature of the city.” Beneath this sentence appear the first sketches of the future Capitol, embraced in the distance by the Siwalik mountains.6 The course of the “erosion valley” across the plain and the orthogonal run of the mountains provided Le Corbusier with a natural matrix on which to place the

Le Corbusier, “Album Punjab,” ­Fondation Le Corbusier, 1951, fol. 7, W1-5-6-001. 5 Ibid., fol. 17v, W1-5-15-001. 6 Ibid., W1-5-16-001. 4

Le Corbusier, Capitol complex and the Siwalik hills in the background (top); Village dwellings (centre); woman with a baby in her arms ­(bottom), 25 February 1951. Fondation Le Corbusier Sketches were drawn in the ­ “Album Punjab,” folio 17, a notebook composed of 55 pages, dated 3 February to 11 March 1951. The pages, densely annotated with ­observations and ­calculations, made the “Album” the Chandigarh primer.


Rural dwellings with traditional charpai, a light bedstead, prominently visible, c. 1951. Photograph by Pierre Jeanneret. Fonds Pierre Jeanneret, CCA, ARCH265254

Rural adobe dwellings in a village located in the plain of the future 足capital, 1951. Photograph by Pierre Jeanneret. Fonds Pierre Jeanneret, CCA, ARCH264683


Topographical model showing the grid layout of the master plan of Chandigarh and the surrounding mountain chain, as well as the web of rural villages across the plain, c. 1952. Photograph by Pierre ­Jeanneret. Fonds Pierre Jeanneret, CCA, ARCH264677 Two systems of hydraulic con­ tainment were represented. The one ­closest to the city created Sukhna Lake, the large reservoir adjacent to the Capitol complex.

Sketch map of Punjab, in “The ­Heritage of Punjab,” Marg, Volume 10, no. 2, March 1957. CCA, PER W.M364


Survey map of the proposed 足Chandigarh site with the network of existing and new roads. The map shows the web of rural villages and Manimajra township, c. 1950. The red line revealed the i足ntention of the project to preserve several of these villages. Government 足Museum and Art Gallery, Chandigarh, India


Capitol. This nature-defined matrix would also serve as the directional orientation scheme for the city soon to arise. Further design suggestions came from an excursion Le Corbusier made on the following afternoon. In another notebook the architect carried with him appears the sketch of a pavilion located in the Maharaja of Patiala’s ­Mughal-style garden in Pinjore.7 The “Album Punjab,” on the page dated 26 February, features a small planimetric scheme captioned as “garden of the Maharaja of Patiala.” Le Corbusier included the garden’s key features—two adjoining square spaces divided into four quadrants and traversed by a central axis—while noting some specific details, such as the length of the bigger compartment, at 350 metres.8 The same internal organization and ­dimensions appear again, in the first planimetric sketch for the Capitol, which Le Corbusier drew on the same day. The peaceful agrarian rhythm of life, the landscape’s natural orientation set by the “erosion valley” and the mountains, the Mughal garden in Pinjore: all offered suggestions seized upon by the two designers during their very first days in Punjab. Le Corbusier and Jeanneret would come to rely on this initial insight in their long quest to integrate a modern, new city into a timeless and rural Indian landscape.


Sketchbook “E18,” fol. 23, in Le ­Corbusier, Le Corbusier Sketchbooks, vol. 2, 1950-1954 (Cambridge, MA: The Architectural History Foundation/MIT Press, 1981), no. 331. 8 Le Corbusier, “Album Punjab,” ­Fondation Le Corbusier, ­W1-5-28-001. 7

Le Corbusier, sketch of his temporary accommodation identified as “Le moulin//à Chandigarh//Rest House,” in Sketchbook “E19,” folio 388, March–April 1951. Fondation Le ­Corbusier

Everyday village life near the ­Chandigarh site, 1951. Photograph by Pierre Jeanneret. Fonds Pierre Jeanneret, CCA, ARCH265227

Le Corbusier, sketches and notes in “Album Punjab,” folio 43, 1 March 1951, Fondation Le Corbusier Details of village dwellings close to the Rest House (top); notes on the travel from Paris to India (centre); note to self to send Pierre Jeanneret Manière de penser l’urbanisme (1946) (bottom left); sketch of the institutional stamp of the Punjab Capital Project (bottom right).


The inner Siwalik range rises into a hump which provides a striking background. The site has a gentle southern slope and a fertile soil exceedingly suitable for the growth of trees. It held promise of scenic beauty and imaginative landscaping. M. S. Randhawa, Chandigarh, Chandigarh Government Press, 1968.

Le Corbusier’s hand holding the ­silhouette of the Modulor while sighting the Chandigarh plain and the mountain range, c. 1952. Photograph by Pierre Jeanneret. Fonds Pierre Jeanneret, CCA, ARCH264675


To conduct an economic survey of a new nation, to study its history and evolution as a country, to measure its quantitative achievements over a specific period of time—all fascinating and relatively straight­ forward tasks. … Until, that is, one considers the results from the point of view of the new country in question. How might the Moroccan nation itself, roughly the size of France and in full material trans­ formation, conceptualize these particular issues and developments? Charles Penz, “Les nouveaux courants de pensée du Maroc moderne,” Réalités Marocaines, no. 3, December 1951. Author’s translation.

Service de l’urbanisme, charting the pattern and evolution of the ­growing rural population between 1936 and 1952 in Morocco, c. 1952. Phototèque, École Nationale ­d’Architecture de Rabat


Exploring Casablanca

Though Michel Écochard was a devoted supporter of the Congrès international d’architecture moderne (CIAM) and the Athens Charter, he differed strongly from his modernist peers in that he never regarded the architect’s terrain as a tabula rasa. An exponent of his education in archaeology and a firsthand witness to the rise of emancipatory attitudes in the post-war decolonizing world, ­Écochard considered the traditional and modern sites he planned to be highly charged social, cultural and political geographies. Sites were not immediately accessible to the architect, but terrains that needed to be painstakingly explored, surveyed and mapped. For Écochard, launching an expedition to explore and analyze the terrain was an essential component in the modus operandi of the competent architect and town planner.1 Écochard’s particular method of exploration was fully elaborated after 1946, when Resident General Eirik Labonne appointed him director of Morocco’s Service de l’urbanisme, encouraging him to develop a standardized urban policy—a plan to be funded by $1.1 billion made available under the Marshall Plan.2 The general perception that cities like Casablanca were potential centres of ­nationalist unrest gave Écochard virtually dictatorial powers to develop new approaches to urban planning.3 Between 1952 and 1960, the population of Casablanca increased by 41 percent.4 Industrialization, coupled with the protec­torate government’s refusal to improve rural living conditions, encouraged a higher level of urban ­migration.5 By 1952, rural immigrants constituted 75 percent of the city’s population, contributing to a range of attendant problems including overcrowding, lack of infrastructure and poor sanitation. It is against this background of rapidly changing urban territory and political attempts to control it that ­Écochard’s Service de l’urbanisme developed the standardized survey, or enquête.6 Ultimately, it was to serve as a planning instrument “to analyze the issue within a broader


S  ee: Michel Écochard, Casablanca: Roman d’une ville (Paris: Editions de Paris, 1955). 2 French colonies in North Africa were eligible for funds under the Marshall Plan. For a discussion see A. Waterston, Planning in ­Morocco: Organization and Implementation (Baltimore: Johns ­Hopkins Press, 1962), 7. Écochard planned projects in several cities, including Casablanca, Rabat, ­Meknes, Ouezanne, Port Lyautey (now Kenatra), Sefrou, Settat and Taza. 3 Katherine Marshall Johnson, ­Urbanization in Morocco (New York: Ford Foundation, 1972), 39. 4 Hassan Awad, “Morocco’s Expanding Towns,” The Geographical Journal, no. 130 (1967): 51. 5 The government’s rejection of rural development was driven by their fear of the decentralization of power: “The hodgepodge of administration which allowed the French to have firm control previously, however, was difficult to translate into a new system [administrative apparatus], especially since the formation of regional and local representations implied more power and authority for Moroccans.” Elaine C. Hagopian, “Conceptual Stability, the Monarchy, and Modernization in Morocco,” The Journal of Developing Areas, no. 1 (1967): 205. 6 For a short introduction to the principles of the survey, see Michel Écochard, “Les quartiers industriels des villes du Maroc,” Urbanisme, no. 11–12 (1951): 28. 1

Michel Écochard as an experienced pilot and talented photographer on one of his surveys “from the air,” 1949. Écochard Collection / Aga Khan Trust for Culture


Mapping the typological characteristics of traditional courtyard houses in the medina, 1949. Photograph by Michel Écochard. Photothèque, École Nationale d’Architecture de Rabat


Michel Écochard (1905-1985) Michel Écochard, Articles et mémoires : Hommage à Michel Écochard (Paris: Geuthner, 1990). 2 Michel Écochard, “Consolidation et restauration du ­Portail du temple de Bêl à Palmyre,” Syria 18, no. 3 (1937): 298-307. 3 Michel Écochard, Filiation de monuments grecs, byzantins et islamiques : une question de géométrie (Paris: Geuthner, 1977). Michel Écochard and Jean Sauvaget, Les Monuments Ayyoubides De Damas, Livraison II (Paris: E. de Boccard, 1940). 4 Michel Écochard and Claude Le Coeur, Les Bains De Damas: Monographies Architectu­ rales (Beirut: Impr. ­catholique, 1942-1943). 5 Michel Écochard, Urbanisme et construction pour le plus grand nombre. Conférence donnée le 10 février 1950 à la Chambre de commerce et de l’industrie de Casablanca à l’occasion de l’inauguration de l’institut technique français du bâtiment et des travaux publics du Maroc (Casablanca: Annales de l’Institut français du bâtiment et des travaux publics du Maroc, 1950). See 1

Right and following page: Stills of the office of the Service de l’urbanisme, from ­ Salut Casa!, a film by Jean Vidal, produced by Les Films du Matin, 1952. Presented by Le ministère de la Culture et Les archives du film du Centre ­national de la cinématographie


The biography of Michel ­Écochard is a fascinating tale of events, people and places.1 Écochard was educated as an archeologist, architect and urban planner. After his studies at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, he started to work in colonial Syria in 1932.2 He undertook several restoration projects, most notably Azzem Palace in Old Damascus, on behalf of France’s national archaeology service.3 Over the next decade, Écochard would design a new museum for Antioch, Turkey (1931), the Damascus French Institute director’s residence (1936) and that city’s national museum (1940). With French archaeologists and architects like Claude Le Coeur, Écochard investigated Roman monuments and Islamic architecture, primarily focusing on the remnants of ancient water networks.4 From 1932 to 1934 Écochard was on the team that drafted the master plan for ­Damascus. In 1938, he was appointed to lead Syria’s Service de l’urbanisme, which was to be

fully developed during his tenure. Écochard was posted to Beirut in 1940, where he developed an ambitious urban master plan that put an emphasis on the protection of historical monuments. The developers of several private projects in the city balked, and Écochard’s vision for Beirut was never ­ approved. ­ After the war, Écochard participated in France’s legendary Mission d’architecture et d’urbanisme to the United States from September 1945 to April 1946, joining the likes of Le Corbusier, Eugène Claudius-­ Petit, André Sive and Vladimir Bodiansky. During this time Écochard became personally familiar with the operations and work of the Tennessee Valley Authority, an encounter that would be formative for his later career. He became a ­member of CIAM, and was commissioned by the UN for a housing study in Pakistan in 1946. ­Eirik Labonne, resident general of France’s protectorate in ­Morocco, then appointed Écochard head of that country’s planning department, the Service de l’urbanisme.5 Under his leadership,

the ­ Service would have a tremendous impact on urban planning for Casablanca, as well as a host of other cities.6 After presenting his experience in Morocco at the CIAM 9 conference in Aix-en-Provence in 1953, Écochard’s talent was in high demand. He worked as an expert for the United Nations. The government of Pakistan commissioned him to design the University of Karachi (1958). Several countries in Africa also sought his expertise: He drafted the urban plan for ­Conakry (1959), designed universities in Abidjan (19621978) and Yaoundé (1963) and contributed to the urban planning of Dakar (1963).7 In 1955, Écochard and Claude Le Coeur designed Beirut’s Collège Protestant français, the Grand ­Lycée Franco-Libanais (1960), and ­Hazmieh’s Sacré Coeur ­hospital (1961). The most


­ambitious ­architectural projects of his later career were the Museum of Kuwait (1960) and a new urban plan that he de­ veloped for ­ Beirut, this time concentrating on infrastructure (1961).8 During the 1960s and the 1970s Écochard became one of France’s most prominent voices on planning in Third World countries. He spoke of his long ­experience in the decolonizing world on the lecture circuit, and expressed his views in ­articles published in specialized periodicals. His one-time Syrian partner Samir Abdulac ­ dubbed him an “urbaniste tiersmondiste” (a Third World-­ centric urban planner).9 In 1967 Écochard became director of the course on urbanism at Paris’ École des Beaux-Arts and continued to pursue projects in France and the developing world until the 1980s.10

Michel Écochard, Casablanca: Le roman d’une ville (Paris: Éditions de Paris, 1955). 7 Michel Écochard, Le Problème des plans directeurs d’urban­ isme au Sénégal : documents présentés au Conseil national de l’urbanisme, Dakar, le 7 Octobre 1963 (Dakar: Secrétariat d’État au plan et au développement, Aménagement du territoire, 1963). 8 Peter G. Rowe and Hashim ­Sarkis, Projecting Beirut: Episodes in the Construction and Reconstruction of a Mod­ ern City (Munich: Prestel, 1998). 9  Samir Abdulac, “Damas : les années Écochard (19321982),” Cahiers de la ­recherche architecturale, no. 11 (1982): 32-44. 10  Henri Lefebvre, Jean Balladur and Michel Écochard, L’ur­ banisme aujourd’hui, mythes et réalités (Paris: Centre d’études socialistes, 1967). 6

The courtyard structure of vernacular Moroccan houses as it reappears in the huts of the ­bidonvilles, 1949. Photograph by ­Michel Écochard. ­Photothèque, École Nationale d’Architecture de Rabat


framework and obtain deeper knowledge of local industry and society.”7 Typical of Écochard, the survey is highly methodical, defining sequential phases of analysis. In the first phase, the urban environment is analyzed quantitatively, evaluating issues like the distribution of shantytowns, degrees of urbanization, population densities, demographic trends and the logics of internal migration. Diagrams, often ­addressing specific areas (or issues) under Service scrutiny, play an important role in the investigation of the above phenomena. They not only quantify in comparative ways, but also visually demonstrate their underlying logic. In Écochard’s work diagrams are also relied on for their ability to communicate with local actors, such as politicians, planners and architects. The second phase of Écochard’s enquête, which ­consists of an exacting description of the actual terrain, is more qualitative, addressing ephemeral issues such as appropriation and the impact of collective and individual symbolism in the built environment. To this end, the ­Service’s survey relies on photography. Écochard, an avid motorist and a talented pilot, brought these two perspectives to his exploration of the urban terrain. A large number of photographs taken from the ground, offering a view of the urban environment and its everyday appropriation, are complemented by aerial photographs, which, for ­Écochard, played a fundamental role in detecting the patterns and contours of urbanization.8 The text contained in these surveys not only provides commentary, but, more importantly, locates the photographs and their findings within the ­relevant cultural, social and political context. As a combination of quantitative and qualitative methods, the survey was an early attempt at creating a semi-rational frame of reference for the transnational planning expert and his team, as well as a theoretical basis upon which planning strategies, models and projects could be based. In Écochard’s words, the visual elements of his enquête are of particular importance, as “it is suf­ ficient to interpret these documents carefully and confront the statistic data with plans and photographs of different


 Écochard, “Les quartiers industriels des villes du Maroc”: 28. Author’s translation. 8 In this domain, Écochard’s approach strongly reflects contemporary international studies, like those of Erwin Anton Gutkind. See: Erwin Anton Gutkind, Our World from the Air: An International Survey of Man and His Environment (London: Chatto & Windus, 1952). 7

Bidonvilles housing more than 150,000 migrants from rural areas in the periphery of Casablanca, 1949. Photograph by Michel Écochard. Photo­thèque, École Nationale ­d’Architecture de Rabat

Michel Écochard surveys the territory “from the ground” by motorbike, 1949. Écochard Collection / Aga Khan Trust for Culture


dates. In that way, we … can get a rather exact idea of the development … it even offers us an order of magnitude for future planning.” 9 For Écochard the survey was a mediator between the planner, local experts and decision makers. Indeed, through drawings, photography and text, the survey of Casablanca established a joint conceptual basis—a lingua franca—that allowed different actors to come together to discuss urban problems and future projects: “The results of this survey will be used for improving the efforts of engineers, architects, constructors…”10

Écochard, “Les quartiers industriels des villes du Maroc,” 28. Author’s translation. 10 Michel Écochard, unpublished explanatory note to GAMMA Grid, 2. Author’s translation. 9

Opposite: Service de l’urbanisme, collage of images of various light and temporary housing structures in Morocco, 1954. Photothèque, École Nationale d’Architecture de Rabat Page 98: Service de l’urbanisme, collage of the various types of infrastructure and their transformation of the Moroccan territory, 1954. Photothèque, École Nationale d’Architecture de Rabat




Service de l’urbanisme, places of rural exodus and their evolution between 1936 and 1952, c. 1952 (top); analysis of the rapid growth of Morocco’s ­urban populations between 1936 and 1952, due to migration from rural areas, c. 1952 (centre); inventory of the diverse ethnic origins of people ­moving from rural areas to the various urban poles in Morocco, c. 1950 (bottom). Photothèque, École Nationale d’Architecture de Rabat


Service de l’urbanisme, urban popu­ lation growth between 1917 and 1947 in Morocco, Bulletin économique et social du Maroc, c. 1950 (top); ­distribution of the most important activities in Morocco, c. 1950 (centre); distribution of factories along the Casablanca-Rabat-Port Lyautey axis, c. 1950 (bottom). Photothèque, École Nationale d’Architecture de Rabat


Service de l’urbanisme, population densities in the different neighbourhoods of Casablanca, c. 1950 (top); distribution of green spaces and ­quarries in the region of Casablanca, c. 1950 (centre); bidonvilles populations in the periphery of Casablanca in 1949, c. 1950 (bottom). Photothèque, École Nationale d’Architecture de Rabat


Casablanca Chandigarh: A Report on Modernization-Exploring  
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