Constructing Babel: the COP 22 Village in Marrakech, Morocco
Every years for the past twenty years during the month of November, some 40,000 delegates from 195 countries are brought together under the tutelage of the United Nations in an effort to tackle the growing problems associated with climate change. Representatives from various governments, civil servants, and CEO’s, all with sometimes differing opinions on the matter, nevertheless attempt to move mankind forward on its quest to surmount this growing planetary threat.
Following the COP 21 in Paris (where the famous Accord de Paris sur le climat was signed), the City of Marrakech was selected to host the follow-up event, which took place on a site near the edge of the city from November 7th to the 18th, 2016.
A temporary urban fabric
In order to accommodate this large-scale event, a 30 hectare site was selected to the South of Marrakech, an open terrain on the outskirts of the city, facing the Atlas Mountains. The office’s response to the Moroccan government’s call for proposals for the COP 22 was to propose a project inspired from Moussems. These cultural practices takes place throughout the Atlas region, and exist as a series of large gatherings, and are at once festive, commercial, and religious. Physically, the events take place in forms that could be considered pre-urban, a reference the office found all the more appropriate for a project intended to be carbon neutral.
The central canopy, a local and universal significance
Le COP 22 Village was conceived along a 1km-long axis, with the majority structure populating this corridor proposed as structures capable of being dismantled easily and efficiently. The central axis itself links two main boulevards leading to and from the City of Marrakech.
The canopy structure covering the central promenade was designed as a 30 m wide and 950 m long tensile structure, and was meant to generate public spaces of various sizes and configurations in and around the temporary pavilions. This structure is at once a landscaped element and a generator of communal space.
The canopy’s form takes its cue from tent architecture, a shape that is both primitive and vital to the region, with the notion of the project’s ephemeral nature reinforced by the fact the canopy rarely touches the ground. Its architecture is customary silhouette in Moroccan construction, while its profile is also universally understood.
An ecologically-minded event
The project is notable for its methods in proposing an event “95% recyclable,” the circular economy devised centered on the reutilization of materials, sound waste management principals, and the recycling of resources.
The project also continues the initiatives launched at the COP 21 through the dematerialization of documents, the use of renewable energy sources, and the setting-up on an incubator dedicated to African start-ups.
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.