The Climate Conference (COP22) kicked off in Marrakech, Morocco this week, welcoming visitors with a stunning gate fashioned from sustainably sourced timber. Designed by Oualolou+Choi in collaboration with sub-contractor Stephane Malka Architecture, Ark22 is a sculptural threshold between the desert and the city located on the former main entrance to the Medina of Marrakech.
Described by the designers as a cross between minimalism and baroque, the beautiful gate is a “pointillist composition” constructed from repeated singular elements, the timber planks, strategically stacked to create a cohesive mass. The identical 3-by-4-inch boards were sourced from local, sustainably managed forests and were not produced specifically for the event; rather they were “temporarily diverted from their regular journey.” The resulting mass is a 164-foot-wide, 49-foot-tall monument that is porous to allow views, light, and cooling breezes to pass through.
“Both Ark and Damocles sword, each blade of wood is suspended in time,” writes Stephane Malka Architecture. “Each timber is showing both the fragility and the potential power of forces: The scenography highlights the singular unity and the whole, stressing the importance of each of the actions taken by the parties to take concrete action towards environmental disasters.” After the conference, the low-carbon structure will be completely dismantled and rebuilt as a pavilion in Marrakech’s Agdal garden, while other materials will be distributed to local associations and reused.
Images by Laurent Clement