Dutch architects turn Moroccan market into waterfall
Rotterdam practice TomDavid wins first place in a competition to design a sustainable square for Casablanca
There can be few aspects of urban planning more straightforward and natural than the market square. Yet, as anyone who has had the misfortune to walk through a busy produce market around closing up time in either expensive or open-toed shoes will know, there is still quite a bit of room for improvement. So, the winner of November 2012 First Prize winner [AC-CA] international architectural competition deserves both plaudits for its beauty and its environmental probity.
Dutch practice, TomDavid Architecten, scooped the top spot in this competition, which challenged firms to come up with a new a new sustainable market square in Casablanca. TomDavid's design - which chiefly consists of a series of concrete shades - takes its inspiration from both organic forms and the local, modernist architecture from the 1950s, though there's also a clear debt owed to Seville's Metropol Parasol, designed by Berlin's J Mayer H.
However, this is more than a pretty sun shade. The upper structure collects rain, turning the panels into a water feature, as precipitation flows from one concrete base to another. The rainwater is then used as a natural coolant, evaporating from the concrete and so lowering the market's temperature, while also flowing into a tank that feeds standpipes within the market. Meanwhile, below street level, the market's waste is also gathered and recycled, keeping refuse and smells away from fresh goods.
The design team argue that the structure's curvaceous form stands as a bulwark against male dominance. They write "The curved concrete forms of the design are both a tribute to modern Casablanca architecture from the 50s as an endorsement of the beauty of the female form, as a nod to the dominant male culture on the street."
They also hope that the market design could popularise ecological thinking within the region; they believe that the market might "increase economic, social and ecological capital" locally. We certainly share their ambitions.