The office of Silvio d’Ascia Architecture, in association with the Moroccan firm Omar Kobbité Architectes, has delivered the new Kenitra TGV station, north of Rabat.
The station is part of the "Royal" project of building the first line high-speed continent which connects the Mediterranean with the Atlantic ; from Tangier "Med" to the Casablanca economic capital, via Kenitra and Rabat in a first time and term until Agadir.
The station was imagined as a jewel case framing the renewed identity of traditional Moroccan architecture in an urban context, especially thanks to its facade, a reinterpretation of a moucharabieh expanded to the scale of the city.
Station combines socio-economic progress and technological embodied by the arrival of the Al Boraq TGV, becoming the symbol of plug-in of the city and the country in modernity. Designed as a new place of life for the city Kenitra, the station does not only meet the needs of the users of the train, it is also conceived as a place of passage allowing to reach the city. For citizens, it is a new living space, a place of daily cross between the historic city in the south and the new city in the north. It allows to go on foot to the university or to the university hospital.
By its spatial organization and functional, the station is designed as a public space of life at daily, regardless of the need to take the train. The building arises to the north, historical city side. Orientated east-west in front of a large forecourt, it articulates with two overhead bridges above railways, oriented north-south perpendicular to passenger-vessel, allowing both access to the docks and the urban crossing with an open courtyard scheme towards the city new and railroad tracks to the south.
One of the major issues of the project was to create a link between the city historic and the new city. The main gateway was designed in this respect, both as a passage to the city to the east, as an access gateway to wharves in the west, towards the central axis from the station but also as a place of life. This new bridge urban welcomes shops and services and allows the flow passersby like that of travelers using the train.
This bridge over railroad tracks connects the city center historical north to the new university town to the south, formerly connected by a narrow passage underground. By offering two entries on the city, north and south, the train station allows a deep rebalancing in the urban composition and opens to the city as a real public space open to all.
The organizing principle of the Open courtyard station develops the program on three levels, to which is added a buried level with parking under the forecourt north. The north facade is crossed by 8 glazed arches that give access to the triple height hall, designed like an arcaded porch, crossed in all directions by the flows urban and travelers.
The ground floor has been thought as a place of ambulation and stroll. The station hall is a public space, people come together to make shopping, having a drink or lunch... It offers many shops positioned in the three volumes glazed distributed by the course longitudinal.
At the ends of the station hall and in both patios at all height between the three blocks functional, are positioned the vertical circulations connecting between them the different levels from the station (parking in the basement, shops in ground floor, offices and rail services at level 1, boarding at level 2).
True urban balcony, the 2nd level is illuminated by natural light crossing the cover glazed, it houses the ticketing spaces and pre-boarding waiting allowing access to the platforms. New walking place for pedestrians, this level becomes a gazebo offering views of lanes and the new city to the south.
The facade of the station is essential on the city as a “screen-moucharabieh” urban, permeable pedestrian flows crossing the forecourt. Long 200 meters - the length of a TGV in simple composition – and with a height of 12 meters, it is composed of more than 800 triangles in UHPC (ultra-high performance fiber-reinforced concrete) opening on the wide marble and concrete forecourt, historical city side, thanks to 8 imposing arches and geometry variable.
The triangular pattern of the skin is inspired by compositions geometric architecture Islamic. Dilated on a large scale to get the point of balance perfect between shadow, light and transparency, this facade motif becomes a big stitch on the scene of the city.
The dilation of the moucharabieh responds to strong variations external thermal faces the station according to the seasons. This active skin and porous filter naturally light and air to regulate thermal comfort inside the station. The shadows that project on the marble floor gray and on the glazed facades of functional blocks, depending on the hours of the day and seasons, are the poetic result of a natural thermal regulation by the moucharabieh system.
Porous to the air and filtering the light natural, the white mesh triangular envelope the building on the underside of the cover glazed and on the lateral sides of the large courtyard open to the horizon and trains.
Since its creation in Paris in 2001, Silvio d’Ascia Architecture has been tackling issues linked to new forms of urbanity in the 21st-century city, through 3 research topics: transport, service industries and renewal of heritage.
A sensitive and creative approach that leads to specifically study each project according to their geographical and historical context, their functional and social program or the owners’ wishes, with innovation being the key point. It is therefore a question of practicing a research architecture, far from any preconceived idea, as resulting from a constant dialogue between the client, the architect or the project team.
This working methodology is nourished by exchanges between Silvio d'Ascia and his team, in a process of research, valorization of ideas, influences and singular profiles. This helps to transform the issues and constraints encountered during the projects into catalysts, in order to evolve reflections towards innovative and relevant solutions.