AUTHOR: Sascha Roesler
CONTEXT: Lecture at the Chair for Architecture and Design, Seminar "Urban Mutations on the Edge", Prof. Marc Angélil, ETH Zurich, 26.10.2015
Recognizing the three buildings of Habitat Marocain not as a finished architectural work but as a transformable structure means acknowledging an empirical fact that is valid and visible throughout the world, but especially in the Global South—namely, that buildings are subject to a constant process of appropriation by their users. For about sixty years, Habitat Marocain’s residents have continually adapted the buildings to their changing needs. What fascinates people looking at the Habitat Marocain today is its ability to maintain a visual balance between the (de-)formations and the originally planned form. The modifications made to Habitat Marocain by its residents reveals a surreal aspect which cast a new light on the structuralism of this housing development. The informal adaptations highlight the surrealism of a structuralist architecture that builds on “configurative patterns” and generates dreamlike—bizarre, absurd, and fantastic—effects. Recognizing the reciprocal relationship between architect- and user-based building means to grasp the surreal character of this constellation.