In 2004, development work was launched in the first site, Tamansourt, nearby Marrakech, of Morocco’s “Villes Nouvelles” (New Cities) program. By 2020, the program aims to create 15 cities evolving around the major country’s urban centers to host a total of 1,150,000 residents. With an investment of over $12 billion, this program had opened 5,000 hectares for urban development.
As outlined by the Moroccan ministry in charge of housing and urban development, the program’s main goals are:
- Reinforcing Morocco’s urban structures and networks;
- Diversifying the housing stock offer;
- Anticipating future urban growth needs;
- Creating sustainable urban environments;
- Reinforcing public-private partnerships.
The vision for these new cities is to become real urban centers that will include all the components necessary to create healthy cities. Capital investments in transportation infrastructure, health and education services, and the creation of employment centers in addition to major housing developments are all part of the program.
The new cities also aim to contribute to the achievement of the existing “Villes Sans Bidonvilles” (cities without slums) program’s goal. This program’s main purpose is to fight urban poverty and social exclusion. By relocating slums’ dwellers in better housing conditions and providing affordable housing for a growing working middle class, the new developments’ goal is to create inclusive cities.
Since its independence in 1956, Morocco has been facing a continuous growth of its urban population, mainly because of a massive rural exodus that is bleeding Morocco’s villages and countryside. This growth is estimated at an annual average of 4%, which has created an unprecedented housing demand.
Two cities, Tamansourt and Tamesna in Rabat’s periphery, of four under development, are already hosting their first residents. By the end of its development phases, Tamansnourt will have 88,000 units housing 450,000 residents, while Tamesna will host 250,000 residents in 54,000 housing units. This offer will cover 38% of the capital’s region housing needs. Among the 54,000 housing units, 8,300 will target slum dwellers (social housing) and 11,300 are affordable units.
The new developments are however already facing challenges and difficulties mainly related to infrastructure development, transportation, health and education facilities and other proximity services availability. These amenities haven’t been developed at the same cadence as housing. The current residents suffer from isolation due to weak public transportation network and a lack of accessibility to proximity services and amenities.
What should be the development priorities of a healthy city or urban center? What are some of the main challenges faced by new cities?
Credits: Images by Sarah Essbai. Data linked to sources.