Monolithic Volumes and Rhythmically Placed Voids for Mohammed VI Polytechnique University

In the small town of Benguerir in central Morocco, Ricardo Bofill Taller de Arquitectura has completed the new university Mohammed VI Polytechnique with monolithic volumes and rhythmically placed voids to make up the aesthetic of the campus.

Encompassing 55 hectares, the complex of structures (300,000 m2) implements a thoroughly thought-out urban design that suits both students and teachers.

The primary constraint was simple- no structure can be over 21 meters tall. The campus is geared to a pedestrian culture with designed spaces for gathering. A central promenade bisects the site as a central datum flanked by shops, classrooms, and public space. Drawing heavily from simple geometries, the square is a recurring element that dictates both plan and elevation. 

Courtyards, gardens, squares and semi-covered streets lend to a culture of interaction and integrate plenty of greenery. Solid cubes of orange plaster are spaced by full-height openings establishing a solid/void rhythm throughout the buildings, similar in larger scale to the relationship between structure and open space. 

Around the north and south property lines, clusters of smaller buildings comprise the student housing with central courtyards. Next to the housing cloisters, larger open parks lend to larger gatherings while on the north side the recreational fields sit between housing and classrooms.

The scheme favors green transportation systems along two roads that run parallel to the pedestrian axis, while the private use of cars is only allowed in the peripheral avenue Mohammed VI, the avenue A, and the avenue B, with access to the car-park areas.

The urban design and the architectural style of the Moroccan cities, and namely the cities of the area of Benguerir, are the project actual source of inspiration. The rich architectural tradition of Moroccan towns like Fez, Meknes, Rabat and Marrakech, and the ksour (Arabic term for “castle”) of the South Atlas, reveal their history, their culture, and the local abilities to adapt to specific climatic conditions.

The scheme for Mohammed VI Polytechnic University Campus in Benguerir combines a genuine respect for the genius locci with environmental performance goals. The project has received « LEED NC » certification and aims to Silver « LEED NC » for buildings and « LEED Campus »for the Masterplan.

All images courtesy of Ricardo Bofill Taller de Arquitectura

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