Casablanca Architecture

The building site of technological records

THE ISLAMIC MONUMENTAL ARCHITECTURE is without contest the heir of Greek, Roman and Byzantine architectures.

The first monumental mosques were often mere religious buildings transformed in worship shrines. This is the case for instance of the Damascus Mosque and of the Dome of the Rock (Qubbat as-Sakhra)in Jerusalem The construction of these monuments, as it was proved, used the geometrical lines of the Antiquity and was later on improved to open the ways to a steadily progressive architecture.

The same goes for the decoration process, mainly of the muqarnas, alveolus and other elements of the Muslim aesthetic in architecture. The muqarnas ornamental process, born from the multiplication of squinches or angle niches enables, according to the tradition of the worship architecture developed in Islam’s large space, to go from the square to the circle in covering the domed halls.

This a process that was at the beginning merely functional changed into a pure ornament. And it was in the Muslim West, especially in Fez and in the al-Qarawiyyine shrine, that it reached a “degree in elaboration so complex that the alveolus, which were primarily dedicated to the sole pleasure of the eyes, turned into a visible structure that became a decoration fixed to a higher invisible structure, dome or ceiling, in the fashion of the false ceilings suspended from a concrete slab.” (ECOCHARD 1997).

It is worth mentioning that monumental mosques introduced new techniques for water supply, improvement of clocks, automatic moving of liturgical furniture. The retractable Maqsouraof the Koutoubiya is alluded to in ancient chronicles: controlled by an automatic mechanism “it was lifted when Abd al-Moumen appeared and pulled down when he withdrew. To reach this result, a gate (bab) was on the right side of the mihrab and behind that gate there was a room (dar) where you found the engine (harakat) of the maqsoura and of the minbar.

This heritage enables to understand the overture of Islamic architecture to innovation and Casablanca Colonial Architecture. However, this overture was never significant as in the construction site of The Hassan II Mosque dubbed “the site of technological records”.

Thus, the constraints imposed by the edification of The Hassan Il Mosque enabled to optimize, assess and later on adapt. in the most accurate way. the building and civil engineering technologies to unprecedented scale requirements.

The contact of the building with the Atlantic Ocean made it necessary to have a first quality concrete. The extra height of the minaret decided at the beginning of works required the making of a special highly performing concrete, able to resist against the combined effects of the wind and seismicity that can be aggravated by the exceptional height of the building.

Long research led the engineers of the scientific department of the “Bouygues group to a formula allowing the elaboration of a concrete able to guarantee a resistance four times higher than conventional resistances and consequently to shatter the world record of the B.H.P. (highly resistant concrete ) with resistance to compression of 1200 bars per cm. The fact that this concrete sets very quickly enables it to stand very strong pressures in limited deadlines, sinequanon condition of the phasing set by the execution timetable in order to ensure simultaneously the consolidation, the demolition and the addition of the extra height of the building in close correlation with the resumption of the underpinning of the foundations.

This the extra height also led the engineers of the equipment department to study and conceive special systems to pull up the crane to the building site.

In order to reduce the dimensions and consequently the weight of the frame of the moveable root (1100 tons), experts of the “Bouygues Group” conceived a new covering product, more performing and much lighter than the traditional tile in enameled baked clay. The result of all the studies enabled to create, exclusively, cast-aluminum tiles, identical in the aspect of the tiles of Fez.

These tiles, while having higher performance reliability, enabled again in weight of 65% compared to the traditional tiles.