LIVRE PARIS : Morocco Pavilion for Paris Book Fair 2017
In order to mark the presence of Morocco as country-of-honor at the 2017 Paris Book Fair (Livre Paris), we have decided to showcase a Morocco that is resolutely contemporary, open, and in constant reinvention. As a departure from traditional, ephemeral event spaces, we wanted to propose an experience that is as much spatial as literary.
In order to feature the production and diversity of Morocco, we imagined a space whose perimeter would be inhabited by the work of the country’s authors, designers, photographers and artists of all generations. These detachable pages - which will inhabit the thickness of the walls of the pavilion - will allow visitors, while roaming through the space, to select and compile these pages into a bound book. This freely-assembled book will allow the visitor to leave the pavilion with a piece of contemporary Morocco - an instant of editorial production that will give particular meaning to the slogan, "Morocco is an open book." This compound object, between palimpsest and exquisite corpse, will mark the passage through the show.
It was our intention to create a pavilion structure that would evolve over the course of the four-day event. During the thirty hours the salon was open to the public, visitors were invited to help themselves to the thousands of pages of “contemporary literature” – it was our hope that by the event’s closing, the shelves would be revealed, thus indicating that people had torn away the majority of the hanging leaflets. In this way the pavilion moves beyond its purely functional role and positions itself more as an artistic installation, dictating its spatial characteristics through the editorial content its offers up to the public.
The content used for the hanging leaflets underlines the diversity of the literary scene in Morocco. The “four façades” of the pavilion are dressed in “pages” (words, motifs, images, photos, characters) that speak to the books and activities found inside the pavilion’s interior.
The scenography proposed for the pavilion’s interior invites visitors to wander amongst the multitudes of books located on shelves, various seating elements, stands and kiosks created using the same architectural language as the structure’s exterior casing. A central totem allows one to situate the pavilion within the larger exhibition hall, while from within serving as a signage and display element. A small amphitheater used for book signing events and literary presentations serves as the pavilion’s homage to the tradition of halka, an important oral tradition in Morocco. This is reinforced though the project’s use of auditory projections recounting tales in both French and in Arabic.
As an architecture meant to be in-line with its contemporary cultural approach, the pavilion’s material palette of pale wood allows the suspended pages to take center stage, creating a backdrop that is as engaging as it is rich in content.
The international architecture practice OUALALOU + CHOI was founded by Tarik Oualalou and Linna Choi as a studio capable of devising innovative design solutions for our built environments. Exhibiting a range of project scales, typologies, and contexts, the office’s portfolio is as much about individual investigations as it is about testing the limits of the profession through the implementation of constraints. The practice’s most significant built works include the Volubilis Museum, the Morocco Pavilion for the EXPO Milan , the FLIJ tent constructed on the plaza of the Arab World Institute in Paris in 2014, and the "Décrypter le Panthéon" installation commissioned as part of France’s 2017 July 14th festivities. With studios in Paris and Casablanca, O+C’s current projects are located in both France and abroad, and include the new Cultural Center of Morocco in Paris, the House for 5 Continents near Reims, and the new City of Mazagan to the South of Casablanca.
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