WIT Press

Seismic performance of traditional urban architecture in Morocco


Free (open access)


Volume 1 (2017), Issue 1



Page Range

42 - 59

Paper DOI



WIT Press




The urban and architectural heritage of Moroccan medinas has received national and international awareness and increased interest since the early 1980s. To reinforce the protection and preservation of this heritage, judicial and political means were set up in the early 20th century and have been revised several times since then. Despite efforts on both national and international levels, the physical degradation of the historic cities and the unhealthy living conditions of the people in those cities still constitute a threat to the protection and preservation of this valuable cultural and architectural heritage. The medinas are currently subject to continuous degradation caused by overpopulation, uncontrolled tourism and the forced intrusion of modern functions and non-adapted structures into the historical fabric. In the past decades, a gentrification movement has been observed in Moroccan medinas. This movement has mainly been characterized by the return of richer and middle class population (Moroccan residents and foreign tourists) who reinvested traditional houses of modest size. They help in the restoration of degraded buildings and change the spaces around them. The traditional techniques of consolidation are based mainly on relatively simple and corrective interventions. These techniques use traditional methods, materials and tools. They are easy to implement and can be carried out by small-sized companies, within the particular context of medinas (high-density housing, hazard, presence of inhabitants, etc.). In addition, most of the urban and architectural heritage has been exposed to violent earthquakes, which caused partial destruction and seriously damaged the heritage structures. Usually after such events, new construction techniques were adopted. These types of techniques are still in use today and have proven their efficiency throughout the centuries. A sampling of these local construction practices apparent in the medinas is presented in this paper. The paper also proposes a protection strategy of the historic buildings. It combines conservation requirements with safety, within the restoration of historic city centres, which should help in selecting adequate and efficient techniques that respect local culture and limit future damage.


historic buildings and monuments, local seismic culture, medina, protection strategy, rehabilitation, restoration, urban and architectural heritage