LAST year UNESCO held an international conference to discuss ways of helping the area. But the  German architect Armin Durr, who had worked in the district years before, told a stunned audience :

''With great regret I must say, goodbye or farewell to the Casbah!'' He added. ''I don't think this umpteenth effort will succeed.''

UNESCO declined to put the Casbah on its list of endangered sites when 'objectively it's in danger'' said Karina Ben Meriem, an architect with the Institute for Development and Urbanism of the Paris Region, an agency of experts on urban planning that consults with local governments all over France, and sometimes outside it, on urban planning issues.

The institute was at the center of the squabble that erupted late last year, when the prefect in Algiers said he wanted to enlist the expertise of of the agency and a famous french architect, Jean Nouvel, winner of architecture's top prize, the Pritzker, to revitalize the area.

Dozens of historians, architects, writers, activists and students on both sides of the Mediterranean and the Atlantic reacted with fury to the proposal plan in an open letter to the newspaper L'Humanite last December.

The letter raised the specter of ''French colonialism'' and invited Mr. Nouvel, designer of the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis and the Quai Branly primary arts museum in Paris, to withdraw from the proposal.

''Don't accept complicity in a fourth wave of brutal French transformations of the Casbah,'' they wrote, referring to the degradation the district suffered in 132 years of French rule.

Mr. Nouvel dis not withdraw. His role remains vague, conceived as it was with the Algerian authorities customary opacity.

''What we're expecting from him is not very-well defined,'' Mr. Ben Meriem said.

Mr. Nouvel declined an interview request, with his assistant saying that it was ''too soon.''

But in a written response to his accusers, Mr. Nouvel promised to ''formulate a contribution that would develop and evolve on the scale of the terrain.''

The plan is to begin by reinvesting in the dead spaces, putting in temporary structures like children's play spaces or artists workshops, in a concept known as ''transitory architecture'' so that the inhabitants ''reclaim their heritage,'' Mr. Ben Meriem said.

The honor and serving of the latest operational research on Algeria and Casbah, continues. The World Students Society thanks research author Adam Nossiter.


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