Track 3: Conservation of modern and post-modern heritage
Sidi Harazem is a large complex of modernist concrete structures built in 1959 near Fez, Morocco, designed by Jean Francoise Zevaco, the most well-known and respected architect of the post-independence modernist era in Morocco. In total, Zevaco built 103 buildings throughout Morocco, most of which were public commissions including, schools, a court house, public markets, municipal facilities such as the famous fireman station in Agadir, and housing projects such as the Agadir Row houses completed in 1965, for which he won the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 1980. He was an influential figure in defining the architectural language that represented the ideals of progress and modernity the young Moroccan state wanted to convey after its independence in 1956. This language integrated the modernist palette, including a grid underlying geometry, pilotis and the extensive use of concrete, with vernacular typologies and materials (wood, bamboo, and mosaics), a sculptural take on form, and the integration of architecture with landscape.
Sidi Harazem was the largest and most ambitious project of Zevaco’s career. The structures include multiple form finish styles on the exposed concrete, highly unconventional concrete shapes at the piloti columns and market roof, heroic Vierendeel trusses (27.5 meter center span with 10.45 meter cantilevers on each end) at the open-air plaza, and two dramatically futuristic feature stairs at the hotel composed of concrete and wrought-iron hanger rods.
Over the years, the Sidi Harazem site has suffered from various waves of neglect, informal development, and questionable renovations. Much of the site now sits closed to the public, and deterioration is accelerating. Works of construction both on and adjacent to the site have significantly marred Zevaco’s original design intent. But there is hope.
A team led by Aziza Chaouni, an architect from Fez now practicing in Toronto, is currently studying the site as part of a grant by the Getty Foundation’s Keeping It Modern initiative. The team is producing a Conservation Management Plan to address not only repairs, but also to develop a viable and sustainable program for the site so that historically significant areas and elements can once again be enjoyed by the public.
Current schemes for the CMP and structural approaches will be presented. While the plan and repairs have not yet been implemented, it is important for more people in the western world – especially architects and preservationists – to learn about Zevaco and Sidi Harazem. The site is under threat from neglect and insensitive development, and the more like-minded visitors come, the better will be the chance of its survival for future generations.