Foster & Partners have built sustainable projects all over the world - they have designed buildings in Saudi Arabia, a moving elevator gallery in New York City, and a carbon-neutral park China. But the internationally-renowned architectural firm has never before completed a project in Africa. Until now. The first two of three projects commissioned by Morocco's BMCE (Banque Marocaine du Commerce Exterieur), were built in Rabat and Casablanca and feature plenty of sustainable goodness: energy efficiency, locally-sourced materials, and even an electricity-free cooling system. Step on in for more glimpses of this unbelievably beautiful building based on traditional Arabic design.
The contemporary interior (streaming with light) is wrapped in an energy efficient exterior modeled after traditional, geometric design. In order to keep down the heat, the latticed, almost tangled screens were made from low-iron stainless steel. This maintains high energy efficiency, and the building requires very little cooling as a result.
In addition to using local craftsmanship during construction, local materials such as black granite and gray limestone feature heavily in the design. Iconic in recent Turkish architecture, the dome occurs in each of the three BMCE buildings. The interior is rendered in tadelakt, a local plaster technique, while the exterior is clad in zellige, which are traditional ceramic tiles. Notice how the dome slides down into the banking hall to create a stunning, functional bench.
Finally, F&P installed an electricity-free cooling system called the “earth tube.” This uses fresh air drawn into an empty pipe that encircles the building underground, where it is naturally cooled by the earth and released into the branch. A first for Africa, but just another in a long series of incredible F&P projects.
All images courtesy of Nigel Young, Foster & Partners