The year 1980 can be considered a decisive one for architecture in Morocco. It was from this moment, with the birth of the National School of Architecture, composed largely of a new generation of European-educated Moroccan architects, that the country embarked on a process of emancipation from a cultural subjection to Europe. This generation showed a marked ability to re-elaborate and transfer cultural procedures and techniques acquired abroad to its native territory.
Emerging issues, tied also to the important influx of capital brought by tourism, included recovery and conservation, together with the activities transforming buildings and urban areas, two key issues that continue to influence cultural debate and projects underway in Morocco today. In particular, the question of urban growth is approached through a constant dialectic between the rational way of Modernism, adopted during the colonial period, and a widespread and strongly grounded traditional approach based on an intuitive and non-geometric order.
The modern imprinting of these works of architecture offers a chance to reflect on the constants linking current production with local identity. Emerging elements include interesting phenomena of resilience in the evolution of architecture, of reciprocal adaptation between design and spontaneous notions of space: on the one hand it is possible to retrace pre-existing characteristics, on the other the variables introduced by cultural and technological progress. Far from the aesthetic influences of high tech, in the scale and the statute of urban space, in the technique of composition, the examples collected here are the fruit of a contemporary sensibility, open toward the external world, able to assimilate the lesson of Modernism without losing its Mediterranean imprinting.
MOROCCO, EUROPE. CULTURES, CITY AND ARCHITECTURE - Pg. 4
MEDITERRANEAN MODERN MOROCCO - Pg. 12
The definition of the new urban image of the wide transformation of the Bouregreg Valley separating Rabat from Salé has been entrusted to the construction of two new fronts facing the river running through the area between two historic medinas. Situated on the right bank, the Front Fluvial and the Front Marina mark the beginnings of the first sequence of the plan to transform the area between the capital and the neighbouring city. The project was launched in 2003 by the Aménagement de la Vallé du Bouregreg with the objective of re-stitching the internal riverfront, articulated in six progressive sequences and including homes, public spaces, parks and services.
Woven into the space defined by the perimeter of the Sea Front and the River Front, the Cité des Arts et des Metiers belongs to the same masterplan for Bab al Bahr, drawn up with the office of AWMountassir, the architects Taufik El Oufir, Fikri Ben Abdallah and Rachid Al Andaloussi. Together they constitute a unique system that proposes the coexistence between different qualities of urban spaces. While for the neighbourhood of Bab al Bahr the two fronts represent the interface with the metropolis, the Cité des Arts et des Mètiers constitutes its internal space. This makes the Cité des Arts et des Mètiers complementary to the two urban fronts which it uses to reinterpret some of the underlying characteristics of the urban landscape of Rabat-Salé. On one side we find a territorial mosaic comprised of dense fabrics, finely articulated internally and clearly defined on the exterior; on the other is the idea of the typical city of blocks, whose perspectives are defined by the vanishing lines offered by the historic elements emerging within the site.
The architecture of the new Volubilis Visitors Centre is neither hypogeal, nor mimetic. It embraces the logics underlying the natural topography, the result of the alternation between earth and rock in a fragmented surface, and the insertion of Roman architecture, formed of slender walls atop powerful bases. A complementary system is inserted within these logics, made of stereometric geometries that appear to complete the movement of the ground cut by the Roman substructures, and whose materials retrace the temporal qualities of the landscape.
The aggregation of simple volumes and the power of chiaroscuro are the guiding themes in the design of the Ecole Supérieure de Technologies de Guelmin, with its essential and contemporary vocabulary inherited from the Twentieth Century. The composition is an elementary layout that employs the repetitive articulation of surfaces and volumes to create a succession of unique voids carved out by the sun. A series of different-scaled stereometric volumes are set orthogonal to one another, based on a clearly readable comb-like scheme, set around a void central spine running north-south against the flat horizon of the landscape. A succession of wood roofs designs the circulation routes through the central void and emphasises its qualities by perceptively linking the surrounding volumes.
The concept underlying the design of this University is that of an urban microcosm whose very raison d’être is drawn from visual and logical relationships with the landscape. It is a small enclosed city, consisting of pure volumes arranged beside or touching one another based on a precise hierarchy of relations between solids and voids at various scales. They surround a central garden open toward the landscape to build the composite image of a contemporary medina.The structuring void of the project is the large longitudinal garden, running north-south. The buildings are arranged around it in a comb-like pattern into six aggregates, differing in typology and scale, and defining a second system of open spaces. Running transversal to the central void, each has its own structuring role, magnetically attracting the aggregations of volumes and articulating a further level of open spaces.
Situated in the periphery of the conurbation of Rabat-Salé, the extremely rarefied site of this sports centre aspires to the scale of a metropolitan centrality by searching for a symbolic link. The absence of a structured architectural context and important elements emerging within the landscape makes the project devoid of physical references with its surroundings. The resulting construction is based on allegorical logics that almost pedagogically recall the structure of aggregation of traditional space. The central position, between the wide open spaces occupied by training fields, led to the choice to heighten the density of the buildings rather than dispersing the volumes across the wide site.
Expansion of an existing school, the Ecole André Chénier in Rabat is one of the first interventions of conservation and refurbishment of an historic work of architecture to host new functions. The existing school occupies one of the urban blocks designed by the Plan Prost in the 1910s, in an eccentric position that reinforces the perimeter of the ravine facing the Bouregreg Valley. This colonial construction is an L shaped volume that forms a compact urban front along the street and defines a unified open space facing the boulevard running along the river’s edge. The existing volume, renovated and preserved in its original characteristics, has been integrated with new volumes, though without affecting its morphological unity and by adopting criteria for differentiating the new from the old.
This project provides two different hospitality typologies. A transversal axis defines the arrival area and divides the lot into two parts, organised in specular typologies, though with different articulations. Two large courts unite the 166 hotel rooms and 28 apartments, through an exploration of volumes differentiated according to the scale of functional units. While one side of the structure is introverted and rigid, the side occupied by the mini-apartments is arranged in a more fragmentary manner along the edge of the lot. Both systems are inserted within a landscape that filters views to ensure privacy and unify the two typologies. The more linear hotel structure consists of two large parallel and balcony-fronted volumes, connected by three smaller bridge elements defining a central void articulated in two courtyards: the first, the larger of the two, features the pools and serves as the heart of the hotel’s collective activities; the second, smaller court preserves a more intimate dimension for views from the hotel rooms.
Far from the density of the city, this project experiments with a typology and seeks out the same logic of proximity found in the city in the wideness of the landscape. In the fertile territories of the region of Marrakech, these co-housing units for agricultural purposes were created as an hybrid between a peri-urban reality and the dimension of dwelling typical of the city. They do not allude to the absolute nature of a farmhouse, as much as to the typical aggregation of rural villages, bringing the compactness of an urban elevation to the countryside. The choices underlying the project play with the possibility to inhabit an agricultural territory with urban typologies and seek out an osmotic relationship between architecture and landscape, meanwhile conserving the introversion typical of a rural dwelling.
Slightly separated from one another, each environment is a volume of its own, hovering in the narrow space that defines the site of the villa. In fact, the villa does not resemble a complete building, but more of a collection of parts crystallised in the act of coming together, leaving the structure of the composition permeable and readable. This cluster of small parallelepipeds is anchored to the ground and linked by a material and chromatic continuity. The entire project expresses an archaic appearance, with rounded edges typical of earthen architecture and rough, solid and massive walls. Adjacent though not touching one another, six conceptually independent volumes of different sizes and heights generate the image of a fragmented unicum, eroded by the wind and carved out by water. Two semi-hypogeal spaces, at a lower level, contain two bedrooms and a bathroom, with a small terrace overlooking the valley.
Freely arranged on the site, the different parts of the Maison Fobe are broken down into autonomous elements, linked only by the use of white surfaces and pure volumes to describe a metaphysical landscape. Pure parallelepipeds conceal their functional raison d’être, in a succession of what appear to be sculptural elements belonging to a system of composition that seems to accept the randomness as its underlying logic. The client of the Maison Fobe is a film producer and the architect has declared his own creative debt to cinema, to the dynamism of communication that draws observers into a pluri-perspectival cubist experience in the narrow alleys of the medina. The only common sign shared by the different volumes is their height. With its rigid visual layout with respect to the dynamism of perception, the main volume is an almost perfectly symmetrical T.
- Un’infrastruttura idrica di nuova generazione: la diga multifunzione di Katwijk, Olanda - Pag. 92
- Bruno Munari: aria Ι terra. L’arte al servizio della collettività - Pag. 97
– “Lest We Forget – Emirati Adornment”. Un progetto di allestimento nella Warehouse421 ad Abu Dhabi – Pag. 98
– Una Smart Community tra pubblico e privato: l’asilo nella Cittadella dell’Innovazione a Pisa – Pag. 102
NOTIZIE - Pag. 106
LIBRI – Pag. 110
PANTOGRAFO – Pag. 111