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The Aquarium

2012 -
Collective and participative reflection on the future of abandoned spaces and the role of citizens in their re-activation.




The Casablanca Aquarium - a building that is part of the city's historic heritage - has been closed since the 1980s. It is located between the Casablanca Fair and the Hassan 2 Mosque, and is not open to the public.This playful and educational space remains a myth for the people of Casablanca, who are particularly attached to it.

Since 2012, artist Mohamed Fariji has been working to reactivate the former Casablanca Aquarium through workshops, visits, conferences, publications and dedicated exhibitions. L'Atelier de l'Observatoire is in charge of the project to reopen the Aquarium (temporarily or permanently), and is leading a collective utopian reflection on its future.Thinking about conversion or reappropriation becomes in itself a new possible use for this space, emptied of its original purpose, whose future has been prevented after barely 25 years in operation.

Project stages

Participative walks, 2015-2022

These initiatives provide an opportunity for collective reflection on the use of abandoned space and the permanence of its existence. By redrawing an itinerary, memory is rehabilitated, and the aquarium regains a materiality in the cartography of Casablanca. Spaced out at intervals, these wanderings are each time a new inventory, bearing witness to the progress of decay within the Aquarium.

Common Spaces, 2016

This project brings together a collective of contemporary artists, researchers and activists from Germany, Jordan and Morocco, who are committed to developing common strategies for artistic practices and interventions in the public space around the Casablanca district.  

The Imaginary Aquarium, 2014

Conceived as a manifesto for the reactivation of memory, Mohamed Fariji recomposes a fiction based on the sudden closure of the Aquarium. He collects, inventories and fills the gaps with an imaginary creation of archives.  By building a subjective collection, he questions the viewer's own relationship with the city, the potential for imagination in public space, and the collective future at stake. 


The Aquarium, towards a negotiation of spaces 


L'Atelier de l'Observatoire is in charge of the project to reopen the Aquarium (temporarily or not) and is leading a collective utopian reflection on its future. In the spirit of the collective museum, it also plans to take over an abandoned space to house the creations and collections of an invisible memory.


The association carries out fieldwork, targeting abandoned urban spaces and interviewing those involved in the city about their possible reactivation. Since 2016, it has focused on the municipal library in Casablanca, which has been closed since 1987. Negotiations to reactivate an abandoned site began in 2021, when the Atelier de l'Observatoire opened its collective museum in the Parc de la Ligue Arabe. To mark the occasion, it rehabilitated two containers abandoned by the city. This alternative action has a strong symbolic value, as it involves renovating its museum in a park that has just reopened after several years of work. What's more, this occupation echoes a previous recovery action organised in April 2015 in the same place: Yasmina Park.

Following a decision by Casa Patrimoine, the containers were confiscated in July 2022. The museum was collectively dismantled on 29 July.

The Atelier de l'Observatoire is still seeking to reactivate an abandoned site in the city, a permanent site dedicated to researching the collective memory of Casablanca's neighbourhoods and marginalised narratives, to build up its collection, and to continue its programming and outreach work with the people of Casablanca.


The opening of an art and research centre is planned for 2030.



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