A secular town with a strong cultural identity, Taroudant’s architectural style, full of history, is an expression of the deep Moroccan South. The Polydisciplinar Faculty of Taroudant University is an attempt to reinterpret that heritage through a building that carries a vision for the future.
Name of the project: Taroudant University
Architects: Saad El Kabbaj, Driss Kettani & Mohamed Amine Siana
Location: Taroudant, Morocco
Collaborator: Yassine El Aouni
Client: Université Ibn Zohr d’Agadir
Delegate client: Compagine Générale Immobilière
Contractor: Entreprise Zerkdi & Fils
Site area: 6 Ha
Project built area: 20.511 m²
Completion date: 2010
Photographs: Fernando Guerra – FG + SG
This project, therefore, draws its inspiration from the land and its manifestations to the senses. This reading tries to avoid the pitfalls of many cliches by keeping from the context only its essence. From the South, we retrieve the massiveness, the strength, the Clair-obscur, and a poetic austerity …
To that effect, the design relies on a set of architectural and urban principles brought to life through a conception where the inward and the outward interpenetrate, the scales vary, and where the user is one with architecture. The faculty is organized around a central riad (interior garden) on the north-south axis whose northern boundary is a garden of argan trees, giving the user an unmatched view over the Atlas mountains.
The various entities are deployed around this riad taking into account the need for proximity, orientation, and views.
The latter is organized along an interior street, creating direct contact with the amphitheaters and allowing the optimization of the administrative staff’s traffic. The prioritization of the walkways follows a functional logic and is designed to optimize traffic while reducing acoustic nuisances. Similarly, gateways and corridors create a second-level traffic system thus multiplying the views.
The scale of the riad is blurred and diluted by a set of plots of various sizes, and a series of gardens that define different buildings. The architecture is deliberately massive, closed in the east-west direction while open north-south, with an architectural feature allowing natural ventilation and thermal and acoustic comfort.
Low-rise, the buildings are different towers encamped on the ground by strong volumes, opaque, but lightened by a set of gateways and corridors, creating a dynamic space. The architecture reveals itself gradually from the opacity to long and sharp slots and finally to large frames on perspectives, views, or gardens. The ocher tone of the volumes accentuates the Clair-obscur and the impression of both privacy and openness on the outside. The project tries to define its personality in this duality: the user is confronted with different levels of understanding and ownership, from which stems the relationship to the architecture.
The mix of nature and the mineral is studied to reflect the spirit of the place and the surrounding land: beyond the alleys, squares, and plazas, the flowing nature intrudes the space and imposes itself. Each building is arranged around open and semi-open patios and gardens creating different worlds, different intimacies, different places in one place…
The greenery is deliberately let to expand out of the geometric pattern to win its freedom, appearing to result from a random nature. These different architectural and landscape arrangements create a variety of environments that enrich the space for the benefit and comfort of the user’s senses.
SAAD EL KABBAJ, DRISS KETTANI & MOHAMED AMINE SIANA ARCHITECTS
Born in 1978 in Casablanca, Saad El Kabbaj studied at the Ecole Nationale d’Architecture of Rabat, Morocco where he graduated in 2003. During his studies, he had some experiences abroad. He opened his office in Casablanca in 2005 and works especially on residential projects.
Born in 1978 in Fes, Driss Kettani has spent his childhood in Côte d’Ivoire before coming to Morocco in 1996 and studying at the Ecole Nationale d’Architecture of Rabat, Morocco where he graduated in 2003. After some collaborations, he opened his office in Casablanca in 2005, working on some housing, office projects, and design.
Born in 1979 in Casablanca, Mohamed Amine SIANA graduated from the Ecole Nationale d’Architecture of Rabat, Morocco in 2004. He had some abroad experiences before opening his own office in Casablanca in 2005. He works in different kinds of projects: interior, housing, health, design…
In parallel to their own projects, the three architects collaborate on some important commissions. Thus, they won the competition of the Taroudant University which was completed in 2010, they had the second prize for the competition for the Casablanca Grand Stadium with Portuguese partners Risco and LDS in 2011, and also completed other educational projects such as the Technology School of Guelmim which was short-listed for the Aga Khan Award for Architecture and the Technology School of Laayoune. They were also awarded Archmarathon Award and the Mimar Sinan Prize in Istanbul. Their work has been published and exhibited in numerous countries.