Casa-Port, Casablanca, Morocco

 

published in l'Arca International n. 135

 

Casa-Port, Casablanca, Morocco projectArep

 

 

Project: AREP: Etienne Tricaud, Philippe Druesne, Christophe Iliou; Associates: Groupe 3; Architectes: Omar Tijani, Skander Amine; Project manager:  Vincent Missemer chef de projet; Structures: MAP3 - Emmanuel Livadiotti, Érick Cuervo; Technical studies: UTECA / INGECOBAT; Landscaping: Atelier Bertrand HOUIN; Client: Office National des Chemins de Fer marocains. Photos: © AREP / Photographe : Didier Boy de La Tour

 

 

Casa-Port, Casablanca’s new station, brings together the passenger circulation/waiting facilities, services, retail spaces and two-story underground car park under one large roof.

 

 

The hall, which is the station’s main space, opens up to the south-east across a vast plaza and to the north-east across the station platforms. On the inside the passenger services are all carefully set out (ticket office, poster panels, waiting/reception facilities etc.) together with a prayer room located well away from all the circulation flows and noise.

 

 

Vertical links up a spacious central shaft connect the entrance lobby to the lower level, where there are more retail facilities (fast food outlets, newspaper kiosk, vending machines, shops...).

 

 

Below this level there is an underground car park with 380 parking spaces. The architecture of the hypostyle hall features a large carefully constructed roof made of wood and steel supported by slender columns that open up at the top like the branches of a tree to frame an opening in the roof that lets in dimmed light.

 

 

The full-height glass facades establish continuity between the inside and outside of the public space, making it easier to read the layout of the station and pathways. A Mashrabiya made of fibre cement creates a transparent filter between the station and city, softening the inflowing sunlight without preventing air from entering. 

 

 

Over on the south side the roof turns into an urban feature accommodating a vast external public space. The station extends into a large two-level plaza landscaped with palm trees, where the reorganisation of the taxi service leaves plenty of room for pedestrians.

 

 

The station building and plaza are paved with stone from Benslimane (80 km to the north of Casablanca) underlining the continuity between the station hall and outside space.

 

 

The clear-coloured concrete columns supporting the roof culminate in a steel trunk and an aluminium element supporting the branches of the wood-covered top surface.