Algerian Urbanism and Translation
Algerian Urbanism and Translation
By Saïd ALMI
Anthropologist,Sociologist of the built space, Ph.D. in Town planning Town
planner SFU (French Society of Planners) (Paris). In charge of Renewable energies and North Africa. Member of the FTERSI (Temimi Fundation of Scientific Research and Information) (Tunis). Member of the APA (African Planning Association) (South Africa).
countries have a lot to gain from the translation operation. The initiative taken by the Algerian Ministry of Veterans Mojahedin making different French, English and German works available in Arabic should arouse a general craze for translation in the Arab world.
Conversely, many works published in the language of “Dad” (ﺿﺎﺩ) deserve to be discovered in the West. Encourage their translation into the language of Shakespeare would give the Arabic though an international focus. Today, the value of the Arabic thought is well established; its place in the general history of thought and culture must stop take it problematic and give it an uncertain aspect or status. The determining role of translation in access to knowledge, fundamental condition for economic, social and cultural development of a country, is evident as well. Translation promotes dialogue and this is one of the master pieces of urban planning where we even speak about “trialogue”. By scrutinizing the Algerian town planning, as it has been bequeathed to us by the French colonization, we realize how much openness to the Other is inescapable.
Keywords Algeria, Arabic though, regularization, translation, urbanism,
the translation is in Mediterranean ?
on the city and urbanism
and culturalism in urban planning
founding principle of the French school of urbanism
dialogue to trialogue, through regularization
of the principle of regularization in Algiers
should be paid to the Algerian Ministry of Veterans Mojahedin which,
on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the accession of
Algeria to independence, has made possible the translation into
Arabic of a number of scientific and academic works. Arabic-speaking
In general, Arab
countries have everything to gain from the translation operation.
the translation is in Mediterranean ?
2010, Transeuropéennes launched with the support of the Anna Lindh
Euro-Mediterranean Foundation for the Dialogue between Cultures, the
French Ministry of Culture and Communication, the Regional Council of
Ile-de-France and the French Institute and in collaboration with
several euro-Mediterranean partners (1), an extensive survey of
translation across the Mediterranean.
Numerous studies have focused on the actors concerned (authors, translators, publishers, booksellers, librarians, critics and support organizations) and the flow situation and issues, the dissemination and receipt of the translation and on training translators, it appears a state of unprecedented places: the Mediterranean Basin accuses a large deficit in this area. Large qualitative and quantitative differences were noted in the chain of translation between the two sides (Glasson Deshaumes G. & Aubarell G. 2012). The situation is so severe that, during the presentation of the final report in June 2012 in Brussels, the Executive Director of the Anna Lindh Foundation, Andreu Claret, rightly spoke of a "clash of ignorance". The term seems to have been dictated by Edward Said, who, in reaction to the crazy idea of a "clash of civilizations" of American ideologue Samuel Huntington, has denounced the stigmatizing position. Indeed, as Bernard Lewis who influenced him, Huntington, strongly opposes the West to Islam, forgetting the internal plurality in each of the two "blocks" and their respective heterogeneity. Andreu Claret therefore called his wishes in a clear improvement of the situation between the different Mediterranean languages (Glasson Deshaumes G. & Aubarell G. 2012).
implementation of the conclusions and recommendations of the study
may be able to open the way for a new Euro-Mediterranean era, based
both on a common identity and cultural diversity. The Saint-Simonians
have been the first to have understood. Early in the19th century,
they have indeed advocated the “union in difference” and
advocated to do precisely the Mediterranean a “nuptial bed of
the East and the West” (Chevalier M. 1832).
linguistic and cultural question, the entire political and
geopolitical sphere is well underway.
the determining role of translation in access to knowledge,
fundamental condition for economic, social and cultural development
of a country, is well established.
Greek thought has penetrated the Arab-Muslim world through
translations which have experienced their high level in the 9th
century. The Caliph Ma’mun encouraged the initiative by setting up
Bayt al-Hikma. Even today, the level of activity and rigor and
scholarship that prevailed in this House of Wisdom remains unique in
that same Arab-Muslim world. The first major translations date back
to the early 8th century, when Salim Abu-l-Ala, Iran’s secretary of
the Umayyad Hisham, attacked various epistles published from
Aristotle to Alexander, before, thanks to the development of
papermaking in 762, translations of the Greek philosophers did take
an unprecedented scale. So well in fact that the historian of
science, Alexandre Koyré, said later, to the chagrin of some
Westerners, “It was the Arabs who were the
the Latin West” (Koyré
A. 1966. Underlined by the author).
But today it is quite different. In his presentation of the "Plan Ibn Ishaq Hunayn" in 2006 in Paris, Abdessalam Cheddadi denounced the delay in the translation into Arabic. He said the failure "prohibits the Arabic language (...) to be on a par with minimum level normally required in knowledge and modern creation" (cited by Glasson Deshaumes G. 2009). And at a recent symposium on the translation into human and social sciences, he added: "no discipline offers in Arabic all the constituent elements of a disciplinary field", knowing that translation does not concern only words but whole strands of thought (Jacquemond R. 2007). Therefore, translation is a working background that affects the whole of "episteme" of a society or era. The ignorance of a language is therefore up to a misunderstanding of an entire culture or a civilization. About ignorance, Edward Said (2001) comdemned the misunderstanding and confusion experienced by some ideologues like Bernard Lewis and Samuel Huntington. Considering the "civilizations" and "identities" as closed entities without plurality or internal contradictions, these argue the idea of a "clash of civilizations" and radically oppose Islam and the West, defined as "Judeo-Christian civilization."
1964 , the Israeli-American orientalist, originally from England, an
expert on Turkish civilization, Bernard Lewis, addressing the issue
of the Middle East, draws on the work – far richer and more complex
– of Fernand Braudel (1963)
to establish his theory of the antagonism between civilizations and
launch his famous formula. According to him, the crisis in the Middle
East is not due to a dispute between States but to a “clash of
Huntington refers to Lewis (1990)
and publishes an article, then a very controversial book (Huntington
most of its
one of them.
two or more
part of the rediscovery movement and imitation of antiquity, the
dialogue was present among all humanists and all the great
intellectual debates of the Renaissance. Thanks to the game
representation of interlocutors, it brought a “possibility of
critical distance and questioning of the powers of speech”
urban planning, dialogue plays a key role. Prior to any work on the
Parisian urban area in the second half of the 19th century, for
example, Prefect urban planner of Paris, Haussmann, was still engaged
in a wide consultation.
the mid-nineteenth century, requirements for planning were going to
be diversified and the building process more complex. So the heirs of
Haussmann’s method worked to overcome the dialogue in favor of the
“trialogue” they endow three properties: long-term vision,
create conditions and broad participation as possible.
and trialogue have their origins in a process established by
Haussmann himself, the ” regularization “: a term invented
by the Prefect urban planner of Paris (Haussmann E. 2000).
principle of regularization, whose Haussmann, like Napoleon III, his
protector, influenced by the thinking industrialist Saint-Simonian,
measured the importance, aims to optimize the urban space using
modern techniques and adapt historic new needs generated by
industrial civilization, without sacrificing the legacy of the past.
for the regularization, the trialogue approach includes three levels,
comparable: historical (an inseparable link is established between
the past, present and future), geographic (any city is inseparable
from the region with which it carries on interaction) and consensus
(based on the amount of information). The articulation of these
orders is expressed in a formula characteristic of the
regularization: the general rules applicable to all cities need to
add specific provisions for each city treated concrete (Almi S.
and regularization: both these neologisms were created more than a
century apart. They refer to two groups of approaches or oddly
similar intentions. One and one summons the otherness: the contest of
the Other is indeed erected in order.
illustrate these concepts trialogue and regularization, consider the
case of the cities of Algieria during the French colonial period. The
domination of the Other was, there, a major factor. So this
environment is an ideal setting for examining the question of
otherness, central idea in our subject.
the works that have received support from the Algerian Ministry,
(Almi S. 2013). This book deals precisely with the French colonial
urbanism in Algeria in a comparative perspective as, under the urban
model chosen, the dialogue is unevenly convened.
the origin of this book there was the will to understand the ins and
outs of the Algerian urban situation. So we had to find the necessary
keys to the analysis and interpretation of this situation by
identifying its major conceptual frameworks. This choice caused two
methodological consequences. First, the need for what Michel Foucault
would have called “an archeology of urban initiatives”,
going back to the beginnings of the colonial era.
escape the ideological interpretations carried by the historiography
on the French presence in Algeria, I could not do otherwise than by
directly grasping the sources of information, drawing on first-hand
there was the desire not to separate these processes from the
cultural context (political, economic, social, and epistemological),
in which they were developed. In other words, I had to become a
historian, or at least acquire a minimum of skills in this field.
systematic reading of the colonial literature and local news media
showed three major ideological or cultural currents, respectively
under the military policy of the conquerors, the Fourierism and the
Saint-Simonism. The historians curiously have lost sight of the
importance of these last two doctrines appeared very early in
Algeria. So they neglected their role in the genesis of two main
principles: assimilation, initiated by the Fourierists and
appropriate by the settlers, and the association, introduced par the
its part, the role of the military administration is generally
observed through the prism of one armed expeditions and war
this role was, after all, different. It was certainly dominant, but
“protector”. And the civil order was, paradoxically, more
repressive towards Muslims than the military order. In other words,
behind the apparent homogeneity of colonialism, we can discover a
kind of “heterogeneous”, as written by Michel de Certeau in
his “historiographical operation” (Certeau M.
three ideological principles in question: assimilation, association
and protective domination, helped to understand the diversity of
colonial policies adopted before providing a clue to think
heterogeneity observed in urban planning procedures with Le
Corbusier, Henri Prost and Tony Socard, at the head of the three
different tendencies (functionalism, culturalism and regularization).
I was taken to confront, term by term, trends in the respective
fields of development (development and human settlements) and the
colonial policy. And between each other, a curious analogy was noted.
on the city and urbanism
examining the marks printed by the three trends observed in the
Algerian urban space, it is appropriate to question the meaning of
the words « city » and « urbanism ».
agrees that only the word « city » remains. It continues
to point out something that does not fit him anymore. Urban life that
profiles an ideal of civilized existence, pleasant relationship
between men and their space, is not characteristic of our cities
today. Civility, courtesy, politeness, friendliness, solidarity,
sociability, conviviality… urbanity fascinates. It still feeds an
imaginary that only some old centers or neighborhoods continue to
support or to wake in the conscience and feeling.
the life of “cities” afflicts and causes controversies and
debates. Everywhere we denounce its excesses and inhuman character.
Certainly, the city is not what it was.
1994, a big exhibition was dedicated to it at the Centre Georges
Pompidou in Paris (La
ville, art et architecture en Europe, 1870-1993, 1994).
Designed around a confrontation of varied looks of artists (painters,
photographers and filmmakers) and practitioners (architects and
planners), the meeting resumed serious reflection. Equally
legitimately, Algeria now poses the problem and submit it for
“urban” setting indeed suffers from many dysfunctions.
French, “ville” comes from Latin, then from the Italian
word of “villa” (which takes its name from the casa
i.e. farm or rural area, which have generally been the source of the
words are often raised about the antique city. Urbs designated the
physical environment, built and inhabited by a civis
community (citizens, members of a city). Civitas
these citizens themselves, as they were an organized group socially,
politically and religiously (Fustel
de Coulanges N. D. 1948).
then, in the 11th century, it gave “cité” (city) and, in
the 13th century, it gave citeien
(inhabitant of a city). Civitas
has generated in turn the Italian words città,
(inhabitant of the city) which were borrowed from the French citadin,
the Spanish ciudad
the Portuguese cidade.
(citadel, generally a small city surrounded by a fortification) is
also a derivative of civitas.
political dimension conveyed by the notion of civitas
is crucial. Latin politicus,
taken from the Greek politikos
which came from politês
(from the city, from the State, or citizen), itself derived from
(city or town as a political body) indeed refers to civitas
about the Muslim city ?
the French colonial presence in Algeria, the art historian Georges
Marçais proposed Western planners meditation solutions that the
Muslims had made to the development of their cities instinctively or
traditionally. Indeed, in the Arab-Muslim culture, it never existed
specialized texts for structuring the urban spaces or to condition
them. Marçais stressed this specificity, but noted that the Muslim
city was still based on the mosque, “essential body of worship,
religious and political center of early Islam”. Political life
such as knew the Greek and Roman cities was foreign to it, he said
us be back to the etymology. The word “civil”, borrowed in
1290 to Latin civilis
(which is relative to the citizen, to his rights and to the city), is
no stranger to “civilization”. And in political philosophy,
is a translation of the Greek
City, state, citizen, political, civil and civilization have however
a semantic relationship with the Arabic terminology. Indeed, the term
covers both civilization and urbanity, and al
denotes the city-dwelle, but also the Civilized.
is the same with
(city) which may be substitutated with bilad (بلاد)
city or municipality). Now, if
(adjective, derivative of madina)
appoints what is secular, city, urban, lay or civil, (mass’oulya
civil law), bilad
mean country or territory. The French term “bled”, which is a
translation of an impairment recorded in colloquial Arabic of North
Africa, also designates inland, countryside, country and place or any
remote village at the same time.
the West, the verb “civilize” and the adjective or
participle “civilized” mean, since the 16th century “(make)
able for life in society”, and, by a shift in meaning, “get
a (human community) to a state of higher material development,
intellectual and social”. Then, breaking with the idea of
historical process “advanced” progress, which is marred of
a certain ethnocentrism, we use the terms “evolution” and
“culture” (the plural “cultures” is more used from the
the Arab-Muslim culture, hadhari
indicates which is urban and everything related to civilization. For
Ibn Khaldun for example, al
defines action to settle in the city.
is, specifically, the transition process from the Bedouin life
nomadic and badiya:
part of the dry peri-Mediterranean steppe where the tribes of nomadic
pastoralists do live and move) and village life (although village
translates into qaria)
to the city sedentary life. In short, civilization is installation in
cities and material improvement of the live.
there are two fundamental concepts: umran
means both civilization, social organization and state. It is also
the science that concerns the rational study of “natural
sociability”, the science which allows to understand the
mechanism of historical behavior, within its general context.
in the Middle East, “urbanism”, given as the equivalent of town
planning or urban planning, is sometimes translated into takhtit
al mudun, takhtit hadhari,
umrani, takhtit umran al-mudun, handasat al- mudun, tanthim al-mudun,
in the Maghreb preference seems just go to umran.
uncertainty vocabulary reflects the vagueness that characterizes the
planning practice and partnership projects envisaged in the
Arab-Muslim world today. But the situation is far from being its own.
It is general. Societies have changed, but the words have remained
the same; they did not follow: we always talk about town, city,
The explanation is fundamentally in the breakdown
operated in the ancestral balance between urbs
and their divorce..
there is the advent of “urban”. So that beyond the
inflation that accompanies this terminological inflation (we talk
fluent conurbation, agglomeration, metropolis, megalopolis,
technopolis, urban area and region area…), the substantive ”
urban ” itself is now accepted.
the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, the urbs/civitas
adjustment, arranged harmoniously, made the city. Since then, almost
everywhere on the planet, we see the same phenomenon: break between
content and container, urbs
traditional separation between town and campaign
as we could still perceive in France in the 14th century, for
example, is practically inexistent. Until then, there was urban
space, usually bounded by walls and perfectly identifiable, on one
side, and farmland, forest and livestock
another one (Cf. Le Roy Ladurie E. 1988). But in the 14th century,
the word “city”, competed with the term “town”
meant only the central part (e.g. the city
of London) or the oldest part of the city. Then the word was
gradually losing its meaning.
term in the Italian language and culture, it passed a specific
meaning in a vague and general sense.
is now necessary, to designate a field or a particular area, to
accompany it by denotative qualifiers: University City, Science City,
working city, dormitory city, garden city…
the Arab-Muslim world, the situation is the same. Colonization,
yesterday, and international exchanges, today, are the cause of the
new spatial pattern of human settlement. As for the “city”,
the word madina
is equally applied to historic sites and to any urban area.
much so that a plurality terminology is used to describe the urban
practices. This is an emblematic sign of the cission. Indeed, as if
to conjure this upheaval, approaches and designations of the new
urban reality are increasing.
the 19th century, to name the practice of building urban space, use
is made of neologisms. In 1867, the Spanish engineer Ildefondo Cerdá
introduced the term “urbanizacion” (Cerdá
Contemporary of Haussmann, Cerdá is the designer of the regulator
plan of Barcelona, but he is especially the first theoretician of
urbanism considered as a science.
French, the word “urbanisme” appeared for the first time in
1910 in Switzerland (Clerget P.
Since then, it means the discipline for the material and functional
urban development, the expansion process of urban space and the
organization of its population.
by adding the suffix “ism” to the radical “urban”,
planning is erected to the status of science whose privilegied object
is space as a material substance, neutral object, malleable and
reproducible. There is so to say predominance of physical reality
on the social, human and political reality (civitas
its new status, the modern practice of spatial planning thus emptied
of its substance its purpose. However, as we have seen, the polis
was historically a community of individuals before being a “space”
(a concept understood in the sense of conceptual and material entity,
specific to the Western world).
the Greeks, for example, the city was first citizens themselves. The
city of Athens did not exist as such; it was the city of the
Athenians. The citizen condition and the idea of the political body
prevailed. And in the culture and the imaginary Arab-Muslim, city is
a community before being a built space. Space is secondary to human
relations. Hence, presumably, the absence in Arabic exact equivalent
to the concept of “space” (in the architectural and urban sense)
as it exists in the Western imagination. ) In the French-Arabic
dictionaries, the word ‘space’ is usually translated as massafa
(surface, area), fush’a
(extent or area), fadhaa
(place, site), oues’e
(air) or heiz,
None of these terms denotes it rigorously.
Urbanification The term “urbanification” has been proposed by Gaston Bardet, to designate the spontaneous phenomenon of urban development, as opposed to the organized form implied by urban planning. Urbanology
word has been coined by Marcel Cornu and taken especially by Paul and
Françoise Claval (Claval
P. & Claval F. 1981).
In an article published in 1969 in Les
Lettres françaises and
“The need for an ”urbanologie””, Marcel Cornu said:”We
propose to call ‘urbanology’ all the research and studies whose field
is to be urban space, that is to say everything about the growth of
cities. The urbanologie would be the science of the city”.
other words are entering the French jargon on the urban
space:”urbanistique” and “urbistique”.
the early 1950s, the Italian anarchist architect and urban planner
Carlo Doglio linked the garden city to anarchism and criticized
Ebenezer Howard to aim a capitalist ideal of philistine. In a series
of articles published in the journal Volontà
of Naples, he defines the “urbanistique” as how to respond to the
needs and aspirations of the human species particulary by focusing on
term was taken in a different direction by Henry Raymond (1977)
and students who do not consider the city as an agglomeration turning
around a unique historical pole, but as an urban space as articulated
according homogeneous and specific areas, functionally distributed
and communicating with each other.
keywords are characteristic of urbistique, whose approach is based on
systemic: “urban system” and “management”. This
neologism was forged by combining the Latin “urbis” and the
suffix “tique” alluding to the ICT (information and
communication technologies) which is made extensive use.
a time when the substantive “urban” often prevails over the
word “city” because of the anachronism of that designation,
“urbistique” aims to give back to the urban area a certain unity.
Its management will be global and its policy wants to be transverse.
Any fragmented approach is banished.
Consultation, systems analysis and holistic approach to urban planning problems by using the amount of information and limiting the expansive development, these are the watchwords of the urbistique. The word is used since thirty years mainly in Switzerland, where it extends, through the Competence Centre Urbistique (CREM) of Marigny, and in Canada.
these four terms (urbanification, urbanology, urbanistique and
urbistique) fail more or less to enter into common usage.
and culturalism in urban planning
half a century after gaining independence, Morocco,
Algeria and Tunisia are still living in the shadow of three
major planning principles from their French colonial
past: functionalism, culturalism and, to a lesser
The functionalism came from the
modern movement of CIAM (International Congress of
Modern Architecture) and its Athens Charter, which extended the
ideas of some protagonists of progressive thinking in the XIXe
century such as Robert Owen in England, Charles Fourier in France…
for the functionalism, the culturalist principles are inherited from
a backward-looking movement whose origins date back to the 19th
century, with Augustus Pugin, John Ruskin, William Morris,
Ebenezer Howard, Raymond Unwin, in England, Camillo Sitte, in
Austria… (Cf. Choay F. 1965). Functionalism in architecture
and urban planning is based on a universal ideology of
progress. It advocates strict adaptation of form to
function and rigorous separation of urban functions.
It emphasizes values of economy, hygiene and movement
and uses technical and industrial know-how to create a new space
to meet anticipated needs which are assumed to be the same
the world over: to live, work,
travel and enjoy entertainment. Thus
functionalism does not take into account the past or local, regional
or national specificities.
the culturalist approach focuses on cultural aspects of
society and advocates a graded organization of space, following
a federative scheme. It is marked by a strong nostalgia for the old
social and cultural communities.
African cities are still dependent on that planning models.
a period in which their inspiration was mainly European, North
African developers are turning more and more (and appeal)
to international urban development firms, which
practice the policy of universal models,
account local or regional peculiarities.
use has been made possible thanks to anchoring functionalist and
culturalist principles in political North African development. These
principles were supposed universally valid. But, in Europe today,
there is a failure of functionalist and culturalist models.
these North African countries, do not they benefit from inspiration
rather the principle of regularization whose the realistic vision
contrasts with the utopian nature of functionalism and culturalism ?
founding principle of the French school of urbanism
The regularization was
implemented by the so-called French school of
urbanism (whose the SFU, French Society of Planners, is a direct
emanation still alive) in the early 19th century. It was applied
between the two wars through PAEE (Plans
d’Aménagement, d’Embellissement et d’Extension/Development,
Embellishment and Extension Plans), then it was quickly abandoned in
from the four major influences: the Ponts et Chaussées, the Musée
Social and the Moroccan colonial experience under Lyautey, and
to an extent, British culturalism,
the French School of Urbanism can be mainly characterized by its
realism and its distance from any domineering ideology.
two elements are indeed what the functionalist and culturalist models
of modern urbanism lack, in spite of their decisively scientist
objectives, which still prevail worldwide. Since it is linked with
value systems, urbanism cannot in any way prevail itself to be a
rigorous science. It sand cannot claim to be anything but a praxis,
i.e. a group of human activities potentially able to transform the
natural environment or to change social relationships. The French
school of urbanism has been so convinced ever since its birth in the
early 20th century, combining the technical, economic, social and
cultural dimensions in its project of regularization of urban
space. Meanwhile, within the French school of urbanism, the French
word “urbanisme” enters the language. Also within the
framework of the French school, was born in 1911 the SFU whose such
founding members as H. Prost, L. Jaussely, D-A. Agache, J-M.
Auburtin, A. Bérard, J-C-N Forestier, E. Hebrard, E. Hénard, L. ,
A. Parenty, E. Redont are prominent members of the French school,
along with H. Cornudet, G. Risler, J. Siegfried…from the Musée
dialogue to trialogue, through regularization
the fields of edification, with a general acceptance of the term, the
requierement of dialogue can be found mainly in the writings
of Leon Battista Alberti, the father of modern in the 15th
century.building. For him the three specific levels of edification
are necessity (necessitas),
and above all convenience (commoditas)
dialogue between the planner and the client is of first and foremost
the appearance of the Industrial Revolution occurs undeniably a
complexification of the process of edification. The entrepreneurs or
planners are then much more numerous than when Alberti was alive, and
when his dialogical axiom could come down to the relationship between
an architect and his client
from the mid-nineteenth century, the requirements related to
edification become more various. Haussmann becomes well aware of it.
The Prefect of Paris realises the necessity to extend the consulting
and besides to regard the town not as a collection of separate parts,
as in the traditional road widening schemes, but as a whole.
is what a part of the principle of regularization consists in, which
is what today’s «synthesis of haussmannian thought » is called
(Choay F. 1969). The remaining part consists more precisely in the
idea of an unbreakable link between the past, the present and the
future. Such is not the case in the functionalist and culturalist
theories of contemporanean urbanism of haussmannian regularization,
whose protagonists are no other than Ildefonso Cerdá
on the one hand and both the Austrian Camillo Sitte (1996) and the
British Ebenezer Howard (1998) on the other. The former of these
theories is indeed almost entirely turned to the future, whereas the
latter focuses on the past.
third part can be defined in the characterisation of hausmannian
regularization: this one deals with geography. No town can be
separated from its region with which it is inter-related.
enough, the regularization-functionalism-culturalism trilogy of urban
thought in the late half of the 19th century are to be found
integrally in Algiers from 1930, on the occasion of the hundredth
anniversary of colonisation. Prost, le Corbusier and the couple
Bardet-Socard are respectively its main leaders and representatives.
of the principle of regularization in Algiers
three principles of extended consulting, historical dimension of
town-planning and geographical determining factors are all present in
the process of urbanisation of Algiers, as they are in the one of all
the major Algerian towns to which is enforced the Law of March 14,
1919 on the organisation of planning, enhancement and extension
This Law enables a new way of intervening on urban space. The new
proceeding, which originated from the group of professionals and the
think-tank who started working together as from 1910 in the framework
of the French school of urbanism, aimed at the optimisation of urban
space. As a matter of fact, this is just the logical result of the
haussmannian regulatory tradition, to which has been added by the
fruit of the experience acquired in Morocco in a colonial context
under the rule of Lyautey, the works of a visionary engineer called
Eugène Hénard and the socially oriented reflexions of the Musée
regulatory viewpoint is indeed made up of three major orders:
geographical, historical and consensual. Each of these orders is
itself strongly connected to three vital elements.
the town, its neighbourhoods and its regions
means of its PAEE, the town of Algiers endowed itself, for the first
time in 1929 with an overall scheme conceived on the scale of its
whole territory. This PAEE is even aimed at being a genuine leading
plan, upon which will depend all the following projects. Conversely,
this town plan very quickly reveals its regional links, in other
words the necessity of a regional plan whose conception started as
early as 1930. It so happens that this scheme was already present in
the law of March 14, 1919 and in the decree of October 24, 1925 which
made this law enforceable in Algeria. The surrounding towns or
villages were allowed to « have only a single general scheme for
every extension or town-planning unlikely to be achieved in the short
term », as is stated (Official
October 31,1925). Thus the town of Algiers will not wait for the
votes of the Law of July 25, 1935 on regional plans to resume the
study of its regional planning.
techniciens, the colonizers and the colonizing
if it were a triptyque, past, present and future are more than
closely linked in the regulatory approach of urban space. ln addition
to the general rules which must be enforced to every town endowed
with a PAEE, there are still specific clauses adapted to every one of
them and which underline its « own character » (Danger
ln Algiers, five large areas set the way buildings should be
constructed and how many people should live there, in accordance with
the way these buildings should be lived in, by what category of
people and by people having what kind of job. The fifth one, covering
the historical quarter of the Casbah, was added to the list in a
correction made in 1934. This correction endows the old Muslim
quarter with a specific regimen aimed at preserving its general
features. It goes under a special rule and involves very severe
conditions of conservation.
the political power, the technicians and the users
the historical and the geographical orders enable the regulatory
proceedings to benefit from a realism which both the functionalist
and the culturalist theories are deprived of. There is additional
profit: a consensuous will be based on a sum of information. The vote
of the PAEE goes along, as early as 1929 with the birth of the
«Société des Amis d’Alger », an association which focuses on a
wide debate on town-planning and on getting the inhabitants involved
in the development of their town. This repreents a huge attempt at
making people aware at what was at stake thanks to numerous
newspapers either local or metropolitan. Lectures to which leading
figures were invited, surveys focusing on the planning of Algiers and
two major exhibitions of architecture and town planning were also set
up so as to make Algiers the setting of an unprecedented debate.
Meanwhile, a large work of documentation and research was
Urban geographical and historical study”
by René Lespès (1930),
goes as far as saying that it is a precious tool and «a valuable
to his plan for the development of Algiers.
local history remains most valuable.
way of thinking is incompatible with the functionalist and
culturalist models which were created from scratch and applied
indifferently, whatever the location, because they were supposedly
easy to reproduce, on account of their given universal value.
Therefore, these same models would have survived the war, benefiting
from the recovery of the country, and even its independence.
choices which were made were the easy victims of the misleading of
these comforting models.
in all, the three orders above mentioned (geographical, historical
and consensuous) are all in favour of a mind-openness proper to
regularization, which aims at a composed town-planning,
as opposed to the functionalist and culturalist models aiming at
an imposed one.
The initiative taken by the Algerian Ministry making French, English and German works available in Arabic should arouse a general craze for translation in the Arab world. Conversely, many works published in the language of "Dad” (ﺿﺎﺩ) deserve to be discovered in the West. Encourage their translation into the language of Shakespeare would give the Arabic though an international focus. Today, the value of this thought is well established (Arkoun M. 1975), its place in the general history of thought and culture must stop take it problematic aspect that gives it an uncertain status.
This is Banipal (London), ÇEVIR (Istanbul), European Council of
Literary Translators Associations (CEATL) (Brussels), Escuela de
Traductores de Toledo (Toledo), King Abdul Aziz Foundation
(Casablanca), Next Page Foundation (Sofia), Goethe Institute (Cairo),
Index Translationum (UNESCO), the Arab World Institute (Paris),
French Institute for the Near East (Damascus, Beirut, Amman,
Ramallah), IREMAM (Research Institute and Studies on the Arab and
Muslim World) (Aix-en-Provence), Literature Across frontiers
(Manchester), Swedish Institute Alexandria (Alexandria) and
Università degli studi di Napoli Orientale (Naples).
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