Casablanca Bombing Rooms
Casablanca has had a tumultuous, often violent history; the port city has been subject to centuries of competiing imperial, cultural, and religious regimes. At odds with one another, these competing interests have used many means to achieve their ends, often resorting to violence and war. And, as history has shown, violence begets violence, a trend which, unfortunately, continues to this day. We identify security, the most common response to contemporary acts of violence, not as a solution but rather as a part of the engine that drives the cycle of violence. We seek instead to provide a progressive environment, one in which everyone is educated, and therefore empowered.
This design does not adhere to a Casablancan vernacular; rather it embraces the vibrant character of the urban fabric, adding its voice to the existing chorus. The site is an oasis, dominated by a reflecting pool surrounded by greenery. It is a refuge from groupthink corporate think, and extremist think that buries citizens in fear and anxiety. The calming waters drown the city noise and provide a calm environment in which the exhibition and memorial spaces invite the visitor to enjoy peaceful contemplation. The library sits high above, floating almost precariously atop a forest of columns emerging from the reflecting pool - a symbol that knowledge and education is something to look up to, and for which to strive.
The building is designed so that patrons enter by descending into a narrow stair cut into the reflecting pool, metaphorically passing through the purifying waters. The exhibition is composed of two rooms located below ground to provide a somber atmosphere for quiet reflection. The Hall of Sorrow and the Hall of Light are juxtaposed, back to back. Visitors passing through can view can view the devastating effects of a history of violent acts in the Hallow of Sorrow, followed by studying the actions of individuals, past and present, who responded to violence by adhering to higher principles in the Hall of Light. In the Hall of Light is also the memorial to the victims of the 2003 and 2007 attacks on Casablanca.
A light well has been designed such that on the anniversary, May 16, at noon, a disc of light perfectly illuminates a plaque on the floor bearing the names of the victims; it is a simple but powerful reminded. Beyond the Hall of Light is a glass elevator that emerges from the pool, as visitors ascend to the library above.
The library emerges from the confines of the urban infill site, acting as a beacon to the surrounding neighborhood. The facade of the library is its primary design feature. It is composed of a three part curtain wall system that allows for a playful, irregular arrangement of panels which provide variable transparency to the exterior walls. The composite panels provide light and framed views, interior book storage, and opportunities for exterior vegetation.
Together these aspects provide a fluid facade that offers a variety of experiences depending on where you stand. In an effort to move beyond a past shrouded by violence, the Memorial Library will provide a lively variety of spaces and design elements that both offer a safe space for reflection and celebrate the beautfiul spectrum of life that is found in Casablanca.
Casablanca Bombing Rooms Casablanca, Morocco | 2016
Competition Entry, with Wen Studio