LOCALISING AVANT-GARDE AR­CHI­TEC­TURE

Commercial Interior Design - - Designmena Summit - WORDS: RIMA ALSAMMARAE

MO­ROC­CAN AR­CHI­TECT, DRISS KET­TANI, SPEAKS ABOUT THE HIS­TORIC IN­FLU­ENCES SEEN IN HIS CON­TEM­PO­RARY WORK, WHICH IS DRIVEN BY A SENSE OF LO­CAL­ITY

At the re­cent de­sign MENA Sum­mit 2018, Mo­roc­can ar­chi­tect and key­note speaker Driss Ket­tani, in­tro­duced his stu­dio’s new project in Casablanca, which fol­lowed his brief in­tro­duc­tion to the his­tory of Mo­roc­can ar­chi­tec­ture.

Es­tab­lish­ing his of­fice, Driss Ket­tani Ar­chi­tecte, in Casablanca in 2005, Ket­tani has de­liv­ered a num­ber of projects – of­ten times in col­lab­o­ra­tion with fel­low Mo­roc­can ar­chi­tects, Saad El Kab­baj and Mo­hamed Amine Siana – in dif­fer­ent ar­eas of the North African coun­try, which in­clude Taroudant Uni­ver­sity, Tech­nol­ogy School of Guelmim, Laay­oune School of Tech­nol­ogy and Villa Agava.

He also pre­sented his con­cept pro­posal for Casablanca Grand Sta­dium, which was awarded sec­ond place, as well as his cur­rent project B052 Casablanca, a mixed-use project in the city’s Anfa neigh­bour­hood.

“The pri­vate res­i­den­tial project is lo­cated in a new fam­ily area,” he told CID sis­ter pub­li­ca­tion, Mid­dle East Ar­chi­tect af­ter his pre­sen­ta­tion. “It in­cludes tow­ers, fi­nance head­quar­ters, as well as res­i­den­tial units. So it was a huge chal­lenge for us, and the idea was to do some­thing new and con­tem­po­rary that pays trib­ute to the Casablanca ar­chi­tec­ture of the 1950s, with its fa­mous high build­ings and large out­door ter­races.”

B052 Casablanca is a stark vis­ual dif­fer­ence from his other projects in Morocco’s moun­tain­ous re­gions, which fea­ture low-rise, hu­man scale lay­outs made of sand-brown coloured con­crete. Con­sist­ing of glass, steel and con­crete, the mixed-use project fea­tures sun pro­tec­tion sys­tems with low-en­ergy fea­tures, he said.

Ket­tani noted that Morocco is cur­rently wit­ness­ing a rise in res­i­den­tial and in­fra­struc­ture projects par­tic­u­larly in Casablanca.

“The de­vel­op­ment in Casablanca is very fast,” he said. “There are a lot of res­i­den­tial pro­grammes, as well as pub­lic in­fra­struc­ture, in­clud­ing new roads and bridges that will ease the prob­lem we have with traf­fic. But the key is­sue in Casablanca is the lack of pub­lic space. There isn’t enough pub­lic space where peo­ple can meet and so­cialise. The price of the land is driv­ing de­vel­op­ers to keep build­ing up. Peo­ple know this is very im­por­tant and it’s be­ing dis­cussed.”

Dur­ing his pre­sen­ta­tion, Ket­tani noted the his­tory of Casablanca’s built en­vi­ron­ment. With the pro­tec­torate pe­riod be­gin­ning in the early 20th cen­tury and last­ing un­til the 1950s, the city’s ar­chi­tec­tural lan­guage in­cludes Neo-Moor­ish and Art-Deco styles.

“There was a lot of ur­ban ex­per­i­men­ta­tion in Casablanca be­fore the ar­rival of the Euro­peans,” he said. “Casablanca’s moder­nity then came at the cross­roads of Le Cor­bus­ier’s in­flu­ence and lo­cal speci­ficity in the con­ti­nu­ity of crit­i­cal re­gion­al­ism, with ar­chi­tects such as Jean-François Ze­vaco, Elie Aza­gury, Ben Em­barek and oth­ers.”

Ket­tani added that the city’s great ur­ban chal­lenges con­tinue to be its ex­pan­sion, the ru­ral ex­o­dus, so­cial ten­sions and their ur­ban demon­stra­tion.

“I want to high­light this no­tion of crit­i­cal re­gion­al­ism,” he said. “Th­ese ar­chi­tects had a key in­flu­ence on me and I ex­plored the way ar­chi­tec­ture could be avant-garde, sen­si­tive and rooted to its place.”

Mo­roc­can ar­chi­tect and key­note speaker Driss Ket­tani at the designMENA Sum­mit 2018.

Taroudant Uni­ver­sity in Morocco, by Driss Ket­tani in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Saad El Kab­baj and Mo­hamed Amine Siana.

B052 Casablanca, a mixed-use project in the city’s Anfa neigh­bour­hood.

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