Algerian architect and photographer Rachida Ouar portrays the diverse and shifting exteriors of Algiers’ buildings, in an attempt to get people to look closer at the city.
My photographs are an invitation to people in Algiers to open their eyes. The city might seem overwhelming at times: it is dense and compact, and much of the space is built upon, but there are things to discover if you know where to find them.
I like to be surprised by the unpredictable appearance of a building around the bend of a street, or an unexpected façade among many others.
The shapes and colours reflect the different eras and building styles that have shaped the city: periods under Ottoman and French rule, as well as Arab and earlier Roman or Phoenician influence. The casbah, where alleys are narrow and often steep, have rather sobre exteriors, as the houses express themselves inwards, towards the private rooms and spaces inside; the Haussmann-style buildings, true to the principle of alignment, feature commercial ground floors and balconied first floors, and figurative sculptures and ornamental mosaic. The art nouveau, the ancient citadels and mosques and the massive housing complexes in the areas surrounding Algiers’ centre, all represent the city as a real laboratory where ideas and creativity have been expressed over time.
As a photographer, and someone walking the streets of the city, I like to be surprised by the unpredictable appearance of a building around the bend of a street, or an unexpected façade among many others. When we look at buildings from behind the window of a car or bus, we often see them in an arbitrary manner; the glimpse is quick and momentary. Photos give a chance to discover them again, and take a second look at patterns, ornaments, shadows and details.