September the 11th saw the inauguration of RehabiMed’s pilot operation in Marrakech, with the presence of local authorities and government representatives, the RehabiMed team in Morocco and Xavier Casanovas, director of the project.
The operation consisted of the rehabilitation of three historic buildings in the Medina, home to 150 people, with a view to improving their living conditions and preserving important heritage values.
RehabiMed’s aim with this pilot operation was to change the present-day dynamic of interventions in the Medina of Marrakech which mainly involve the rehabilitation of traditional houses as tourist accommodation, luxury riads or hôtels de charme. RehabiMed set out to create decent living space, providing the small dwellings into which the original houses are divided with ventilation and installations.
Though modest, this intervention sought to give a real and innovative example as an alternative to housing policies that merely evict the occupants and allow the buildings to fall into ruin or into the hands of tourist enterprises, representing a death sentence for this historic centre.
The 150 inhabitants were very satisfied with the result; they had not thought it possible to improve their living space and allow them to carry on living there once work was complete. At the same time, the project showed both the local authorities and the Ministry of Housing an alternative path that prioritizes the social aspect.
It also illustrates that recovery of the Medina does not require huge investment, as even modest economic resources can reverse the contradictory present-day trends towards degradation and gentrification, and redress the balance and social cohesion that are currently being eroded.