SS2015 Casablanca extraordinaire

Sidi Moumen, Casablanca

A film studio with

Prof. Roger Diener          

Prof. Marcel Meili

Christoph Schaub

Liisa Gunnarsson

Mathias Gunz

Vesna Jovanovic

Christian Müller Inderbitzin


Studio brief

The silver screen breeds mythologies on places, Casablanca has been no stranger to this distortive effect. The Maghreb has been the playing field of European imagination - obsession even - as well as colonization for a very long time. The violent, yet silent, creation of Casablanca lies now hidden within its urban tissue.  An aggressive playing field of transformative energies clasps this former colonial capital and redefines it, yet again, and over and over it seems, as a "modern" urban center. Older layers whose once-foreseen use is obsolete wither constantly, others are integrated into the new developments to a state of being hardly legible anymore. Architecture and urban developments slave away to reinvent the image of Casablanca. 


The goal of this semester is to break or recreate an urban myth through the documenting of the contemporary transformative energies in the city. What can be the visual and even research potential of this medium, and how responsible is it in the creation of myth? How can we capture at the same time the ordinary and the extraordinary urban qualities of Casablanca? 


This studio will investigate:

  • The limits of film use for the architectural profession, and for urban research — throughout the semester we will be exploring movie references and filming techniques, and learning this skill as a potential professional tool
  • What is the contemporary city of Casablanca — together with building up on historical research, and two previous semesters of Studio Basel, we will investigate current urban developments
  • Critical reflection on the energies creating the city — economy, mobility, culture of people, formal and informal energies, technology



Within the city of Casablanca, many things have changed, even since our last visit in 2008. The edges of the city, the coastline, and the densely built center all reveal rather different layers of Casablanca's formation. The city is acting within the city fabric in strategic punctual projects, some infrastructural, others creating new hubs in the city, and some addressing the housing discrepancies of the periphery. We have organized the semester in a sampling of rather contrasting city parts that nevertheless tie into, in one way or another, to this formal energy of making the city. The fact that Casablanca has always been determined by strong waves of development leave a strange urban collage that is visually extremely challenging to grasp, therefore the movies themselves will inevitably work together to describe this complexity of the young, modern metropolis. Furthermore, each site is coupled with a specific theme, that, while not investigating the overall phenomenon in the city, one creates a portrait of a wider scope. (*note, this section will be updated before the semester start with full dossier's of the sites in question)


Expected results and outputs

Each team of two to three students will shoot, edit and cut a film on a chosen topic/site that will attempt to capture two main aspects: the site, and the site's dynamics. The strategies on how to do this successfully will be part of the experiment of the semester, and will profit from immense input from renowned film director, Christoph Schaub (www.schaubfilm.ch), who will act as a tutor throughout the semester, in addition to the Studio Basel team. 


Studio organization and schedule

The studio is open to 15 students. All students will work in teams of three, in order to be up to the task of shooting on site effectively. The initial four weeks will represent a test-trial on five sites in Basel, where the entire movie making process will be rehearsed, from concept, through shooting and conducting interviews, to cutting and finalizing the film. The studio meets every Tuesday and Wednesday at ETH Studio Basel, where students are offered generous studio space, IT and camera equipment necessary.


The studio is organized through various activities:

  • Weekly tutorials and desk-crits;
  • Field work as part of an extended integrated seminar week lasting two weeks in March (15.03.-29.03.);
  • Movie screenings and discussions;
  • Lectures with invited guests;
  • Visitations on a regular basis for both technical as well as language support (arabic)


The studio will show its final results in Xenix cinema in Zürich, with additional feedback at this final stage from invited guests from the professional movie making field.



• Exercise types: ‘E’ (Entwurf) with ‘P’ (Planung)

• Semester start: Tuesday 17 February 2015 at 10AM at Zentrum Kirschgarten, Groundfloor, Sternengasse 19, Basel

• Costs inclusive hotel and flights and camera equipment for the extended two week seminar trip: 1100 CHF

• For info: Mathias Gunz, gunz@arch.ethz.ch




















Poster (PDF)