"Life in the New Town: The Planning and Social Implications of Morocco's New Towns Experiment"

Author: ORCID icon orcid.org/0000-0003-0707-4558
Behbehani, Fatmah, Constructed Environment - School of Architecture, University of Virginia
Bassett, Ellen, AR-Planning Dept, University of Virginia
Crane, Sheila, AR-Arch History Dept, University of Virginia
Radoine, Hassan, School of Architecture, Planning and Design, Mohammed VI Polytechnic University

Since the early 20th century, the new town model has been persistently offered up by planners and policy makers as the panacea for all urban ills from rapid population growth to environmental degradation. As a result, new town developments continue to affect the lives and livelihoods of millions around the world. Yet scholarship on planning and developing new towns is predominantly approached from a technical perspective, dominated by the view point of elite professionals, program evaluators and political actors involved. The lived experiences and the voices of those inhabiting a newly built environment are seldom considered. Utilizing Morocco’s 2004 New Towns Program as a case study, this dissertation examines the new town as an urbanization strategy by focusing on how new town dwellers adapt and contribute to a newly constructed environment. I suggest that an understanding of the lived experiences of new town residents in two Moroccan new towns (Tamesna and Tamansourt) can provide valuable data for understanding the effects of rational planning on everyday life. I question what constitutes a new town (medina jadida) in contemporary Morocco based on the perspectives of its everyday residents? I find that there is a clear mismatch between what elite professionals and local residents expect from a contemporary new town in the Moroccan context—a phenomenon that has led to significant challenges in the planning, development and occupation of new towns Tamesna and Tamansourt. Moreover, the dissertation highlights how personal and collective adaptations and the emergence of an effective informal economy have contributed to the progress and development of the two studied new towns. Finally, in relation to policy, the work offers five key principles and strategies for effectively planning and managing contemporary new towns in Morocco now and in the future.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
New Towns, Housing Policy, Morocco, Conflicting Rationalities, Informality, Global South
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