Historic City Walls Inspire a Concrete Phrontistery in Morocco

Tarik Zoubdi Architecte & Mounir Benchekroun Architecte

With a vision to encourage learning, sharing, and interaction, the newly built high school in El Jadida, Morocco was designed to link the old middle school building and the residential developments nearby. 

To ensure the safety of students and reduce traffic flow, the car park was designed to remain away from the main entrance of the school, transforming it into a pedestrian-priority route that provides a fluid circulation between buildings.

The sports area has been placed in the middle of the two schools to allow its sharing. For more safety, it remains accessible through an interior door.

The teaching building position was chosen to provide unobstructed views, from all the existing buildings, especially from the workers’ apartments. It helps to de-densify this area and ensure good cohabitation between “neighbors”.

The compactness of the project allowed the designers to shorten the distances travelled by users, especially on the first floor, where intermediate passageways have been created along the central corridor, connecting the two main staircases.

A large entrance square acts as transitional space between the school and its surroundings, encouraging social interaction, while providing a safe space for children, away from vehicles when leaving classes. This large void helps to highlight the architecture of the building. 

In order to integrate the building into its context, the architecture was inspired by the local heritage of the “Portuguese city” (the flagship monument of El Jadida). 

Drawing its inspiration from the city walls, the staircase takes charge of vertical movement as a symbolic existence, with a strong centripetal force so that it could be seen from the outside.

The white envelope of GRC panels, plays the same function as the mashrabiya, both as protection against the excessive heat of the sun and also as a screen sculpting the daylight, bringing poetry and spirituality inside interior spaces. 

The interior “alley” that crosses the building, reminds us of the narrow and shady streets of the Medinas. It is the connecting thread linking all the spaces.

Project Info:

Project Name: Concrete phrontistery
Completion year: 2020
Gross Built-up Area: 4382 sqm
Location: El jadida – Morocco
Architecture Firm: Tarik Zoubdi Architecte & Mounir Benchekroun Architecte
Photo Credits: Alessio Mei Photography

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