Prof. Dr. Tom Avermaete | History and Theory of Urban Design

Agadir. The Commons and the Modern Afropolis

After Agadir (Morocco) was destroyed by a devastating earthquake in 1960, the city developed a modern and innovative plan for its reconstruction that relied on novel urban typologies and morphologies. This research documents and analyzes the urban reconstruction of Agadir and posits that a great deal can be learned from this exemplary project.

Guiding the reconstruction of the city were the so-called Normes d’Agadir: a set of common codes and norms that specified a shared materiality and stipulated design guidelines for the public spaces of the city. These Normes d’Agadir allowed multiple architects to work on different reconstruction projects simultaneously and, together, construct a new and modern «Afropolis». This research project analyzes how the Normes d’Agadir were translated into different reconstruction projects that, together, constituted the architecture of the city. Thus, it offers a different conception of an urban project, in which design is not understood as a blueprint, but rather as a definition of common codes and norms that can be used by different architects and urban designers.

In addition, this research project also foregrounds how the explicit codes and norms that offered a framework for the reconstruction of the city interacted with implicit social and cultural processes. It illustrates how this exchange – between explicit codes and implicit processes, between designers and citizens – affected the reconstruction and re-imagining of Agadir. The project maintains that this historical experience can inspire contemporary architects and urban designers to approach urban design in new ways.


© David Grandorge
© David Grandorge

Prof. Dr. Tom Avermaete
Dr. Ir. Irina Davidovici
Prof. Dr. Janina Gosseye
Dr. Cathelijne Nuijsink
Dr. Ir. Hans Teerds
Maxime Zaugg

Michael Blaser
Luca Can
Justinas Zuklys

Project timeframe

2019 – ongoing