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10.02.19 – Aziza Chaouni's work to restore Morocco's modernist bath complex profiled in the New York Times

Sidi Harazem, a thermal bath complex located just outside of the Moroccan city of Fez, has fallen on hard times. The 1960 facility, designed in the Brutalist style by French-Moroccan architect Jean-François Zevaco, fell into disrepair before being subjected to a halfhearted renovation that attempted to hide — rather than accentuate — the austerity of its concrete construction.

In 2017, a team led by Daniels Faculty associate professor Aziza Chaouni won a $150,000 (U.S.) Keeping it Modern grant from the Getty Foundation to fund the development of a plan to restore Sidi Harazem while addressing the needs of the local population and ensuring the complex's long-term sustainability. On Tuesday, the project made the New York Times.

The Times writes:

In 2001, on a visit home, Ms. Chaouni went to Sidi Harazem for a swim and was horrified by the renovation. As an Aga Khan Fellow at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, she studied the architecture of tourism in post-independence Morocco, including work by Mr. Zevaco [...] Armed with that knowledge, she approached the [the Moroccan pension fund] CDG, convincing Rachid Karkari, the official in charge of Sidi Harazem, that their duckling could — with proper intervention — turn back into a swan.

“We were amazed by the splendor of the plans drawn by Zevaco,” said Mr. Karkari, pointing to the architect’s rendering of the thermal station entrance. In that drawing, called “The Signal,” plants and people climb up a hillside defined by ridges of concrete architecture, a building that rises up and spreads out at the same time. “We hope, through this project, to restore the image of Zevaco’s work so that it regains its former glory.”

Chaouni developed her conservation management plan for Sidi Harazem with her office and with the assistance of Daniels Faculty students Li Cheryl Li, Yi Zhang, and Treasure Zhang. Daniels students Francis Ted Marchand, Avery Clarke, Saaraa Premji, David Alba, and Muyao Zhang performed research and worked on a seminar that gathered international experts at Sidi Harazem.

Read the rest of the New York Times article about Chaouni's work here.

Photograph of Sidi Harazem by Andreea Muscurel.