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Casablanca Marketplace

Latest Project Status:      Competition
Role:                                   Lead Consultant
Location:                            Casablanca, Moscow
Size:                                    300 m2

Building Type:                   Commercial
Date:                                   2012

Traditionally, the marketplace has been a pivotal social & communal urban node in North African and Middle Eastern cities.  In these Arab communities, where barren desert landscapes sweep across the rough terrain, the marketplace serves as a dual function: to shop & to socialize.  Women, who were (and in some rural families still are) heavily protected from strangers’ gaze, would take the opportunity to meet & gossip with her fellow neighbors, as she strolls through themarketplace for the daily groceries in the morning. Men would meet one another after a long day’s labor at nearby café’s, smoke their shisha (water pipe) & play their tawla (backgammon), while deeply immersed in heated conversation about the day’s events.

With the advance architecture in the twentieth & twenty-first centuries, the typology of the urban marketplace has not evolved or flourished like many of its counterparts. Affluent communities prefer western conditioned spaces, like malls, to do their shopping and social interaction, turning a traditionally open and extroverted typology into a gated and introverted alternative. The Extroverted Urban Market emphasizes the importance of open & porous spaces in the design for the marketplace. The design is split in two parts: the marketplace & draping structure. The marketplace is built on three levels: The ground floor houses the fruit & spice markets – each on different wings of the site, with the cafeteria in the middle – to allow the smells of the most odor welcoming markets to spill into the street, attracting bystanders into the marketplace; the first floor houses the flower & meat markets; while the third floor is dedicated to the fish market.

The draping structure is independent of the site & connects to the surrounding buildings. This allows the spatial perimeter of the marketplace to extend out of its physical boundaries & allows visitors to perceive the spatial envelope of the project from within the street. The street area immediately surrounding the site & underneath the canopy structure is turned into a cobblestone path to encourage pedestrian traffic & allows cars to slow down when entering the market space. The draping structure can be seeing providing many functions at once: it first acts as shading devices for the pedestrian street, which condenses in opening area as it forms the roof over the marketplace; it also transforms into floor areas at the ground and first floors to provide space for social areas –emphasizing the importance of social community in the 21st century urban city.


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