CasArts (Grand Theatre of Casablanca), Casablanca, Morocco
Also known as the Grand Theatre of Casablanca, CasArts is a multipurpose theatre being developed in Mohammed V Square in Casablanca, Morocco. Set to become the biggest theatre in Africa upon completion in December 2017, the theatre will host musical concerts, theatre plays and other large-scale performances.
Casablanca Aménagement, a company established by local authorities to carry out urbanisation projects, is developing the project.
Estimated to cost MAD1.44bn ($148.91m), the project will provide the city of Casablanca with access to cultural and artistic activities. France-based architect and urban planner Christian de Portzamparc designed the theatre.
The new theatre is being built on 6ha of land located in Mohammed V Square, a popular gathering spot for locals. It will cover 24,245m² of space and include revitalisation of the surrounding areas of the square.
The unifying cultural project is expected to render a new identify to Mohamed V Square, attracting both locals and tourists.
Design of the new Grand Theatre of Casablanca
Christian de Portzamparc's design was chosen following a competition conducted in July 2009. Instead of an autonomous architectural entity, he designed the theatre to resemble a medina.
The fluid combination includes numerous slim appealing gaps and entrances, which lead to a large cross-cutting public gallery made of 16m to 17m-high curved red piles or cliffs. The gaps provide shade and natural ventilation for visitors to relax.
The exterior of the buildings is covered with white moucharaby terracotta panels and resin shear walls. The central building or house includes a large entrance, which provides shade and serves as an outdoor stage that can seat up to 35,000 people.
The main hall of the theatre has a capacity of 1,800 in two levels and features the same curved piles as that of the public gallery. The piles in the hall support nine independent petal-shaped balconies.
Facilities at Casablanca's new theatre
Apart from the multipurpose main hall, the facility will include two more flexible theatres with a capacity of 600 and 300. Small rehearsal rooms and four conference rooms will also be part of the theatre.
The project will also create an artist and technician village comprising dressing rooms, technical spaces, a library, foyers, and delivery and storage spaces.
Commercial and retail establishments will include two coffee shops, a restaurant and an art store. Underground parking with 180 spaces will be developed in the eastern part of the Mohammed V square.
Pre-construction works at the site began in January 2013 with the existing buildings being demolished and trees transplanted.
Ground-breaking marking the start of construction took place in October 2014.
Financing for the Moroccan project
The project has received funding from local and state authorities including the Ministry of Interior or the Direction General Collectivités Locales (DGCL, MAD480m or $49.62m), the Hassan II Fund for the Economic and Social development (MAD400m or $41.34m), the State General Budget (MAD280m or $28.9m), the Municipality of Casablanca (MAD180m or $18.6m) and the Regional Counsel of Casablanca (MAD100m or $10.3m).
Theatre Projects Consultants is responsible for scenography, while acoustics correction is provided by Xu Acoustique.
Sound insulation is by Acoustique & Architecture, while Méristème is responsible for landscaping.
Lighting is by Light it be, and fluid engineering and structure is by Ingerop. Façade engineering is being provided by Arcora, while SPS Vulcanéo is responsible for fire safety.
Alsina is supplying Alisply equipment, while Oger International is responsible for carrying out surveys and works.
Other key players involved with the project include Egis Group (consultancy services), Europraxis ALG Consulting (traffic and parking plan), DEKRA Industrial (construction technical inspection), Hugo Pereira Engenharia Unipessoal (ventilation and air conditioning), Techniprojet, and TGCC.