Construction has started on the Wessal Bouregreg project, a visionary scheme to transform the cultural and social landscape of Morocco’s capital, Rabat.
Atkins designed the masterplan for this inner city site, as well as two of its most iconic buildings – the Library of National Archives of the Kingdom of Morocco, and the House of Arts and Culture – for Wessal Capital, an investment fund for tourism and real estate projects in the Kingdom of Morocco.
The masterplan will create a new national cultural hub for Morocco, and will enhance Rabat’s position on the world stage as a destination to enjoy internationally important historic archives as well as new arts and cultural offerings.
Jason Speechly-Dick, head of architecture at Atkins, London said: “Understanding the rich Moroccan cultural history and producing a contemporary response to the clients brief has helped us deliver an extraordinary masterplan that will feature buildings of local, national and international importance to the people of Morocco.”
The inspiration for the scheme began with an investigation into the rich cultural history of Morocco and its unique historic development of mathematical theories. Using a reinterpretation of the geometry of a traditional Moroccan mosaic tile as its inspiration, the masterplan delivers axes and views to key existing and future buildings, as well as to new cultural open spaces.
Both new buildings complement and reference the geometries of the masterplan, acknowledging their aspect in relation to Rabat’s most important existing historic buildings, the Hassan Tower and the Mohammed V Mausoleum and the new Zaha Hadid-designed National Theatre. They will also provide contemporary spaces that will reinvigorate the capital’s cultural and artistic scene, aligning with the Royal vision for “Rabat, the City of Light, the Moroccan Capital of Culture”.
The House of Arts and Culture will feature contemporary exhibition spaces, artists’ studios, and open plan areas for both professional artists and new younger talent from around the world.
The Library of National Archives of the Kingdom of Morocco will showcase exhibitions on Morocco’s rich cultural history, as well as providing educational and training spaces. This building will also contain classrooms, digital experiences and restoration laboratories, where Morocco’s precious archives will be restored, maintained, and displayed to the public.
Sanjay Tanwani, principal for international masterplanning said: “This is a flagship project for the Kingdom of Morocco. Atkins was appointed in 2014 to design the masterplan following a fiercely contested international design competition. Upon project completion in 2018, the site will contain key buildings surrounding a grand public open space with water fountains and sculptures. The Atkins masterplan for Wessal Bouregreg will also deliver significant retail, housing and commercial buildings for Rabat’s vibrant communities.”
Tanwani said: “Our partnership with Wessal Capital started at the very beginning of the project and will continue to the full delivery of the masterplan, assisting the client to build their vision and embed iconic buildings into a well thought out urban realm. Without a doubt it will enrich the lives of the people of Rabat and inspire everyone who visits Wessal Bouregreg.”