In 1976, the Etablissement Régional d'Amenagement et de Construction (E.R.A.C.) Tensift, a government agency, was set up to create housing for the masses, the Assif complex was one of its first programmes, involving 600 plots. 300 row-houses were to be designed by architect Charles Boccara and the remainder consist of individual houses built by their owners. In 1981, the architect was commissioned to design 128 apartment units as well as a commercial centre as an extension to the project.
The complex comprises housing facilities for 3000 inhabitants and is divided into: · 191 two to three-storey houses; · 110 apartments; and · 72 shops.
The row-houses respond to a 'villa" housing type that has gained popularity amongst the new urban classes, and include a porch, front garden, and balcony or loggia. A sense of introversion is maintained by the interior organisation of spaces around an inner patio, and the row-houses are further removed from the street by richly planted, walled gardens. The apartment units are grouped in three courtyard complexes joined by monumental arcades and arranged on the site to form a large public garden (riyadh). Small shops are located on the ground floor, and the urban fabric of traditional towns has inspired this combination of commercial and outdoor communal facilities with dense housing above, integrated through a system of streets, passageways, galleries, and inner courts. The individual apartment units, entered through courtyard gardens and served with roof terraces, were conceived on the model of traditional Arab houses where family life is concentrated in a central room.