The Casablanca Bombing Rooms, characterized by a large black tower, offers a civic-oriented public library and learning center for Casablanca and its surrounding region. Although it appears quite simple, it is instead a series of layered concepts, each subtly reinforcing the others and lending an overall richness and cultural rootedness to the final product. Each design move is calculated and well-evaluated, resulting in a building rich with concept, accompanied by a clearly articulated presentation.
The monumental scale, while at first overwhelming, is justified as it becomes a ‘minaret’ looming above the urban fabric of Casablanca. With this reference to Islamic religious typologies, the project situates itself as a beacon of learning and acceptance, becoming a focal tower within the city representing knowledge and growth toward a more peaceful future. The black façade, also initially intimidating, is rather embedded with multiple symbols – of grief for the victims, cultural oppression embodied in black veils, charred earth from a bombing, and the blank canvas that is a dark cinema waiting to be illuminated by a film. Like a perforated veil pulled over a compact volume, the facade additionally reflects the functions within, as it shifts patterns for each floor and corresponding function in the tower.
The reference to cinema is a provocative one, and speaks strongly to the competition’s task of spreading a message of anti-violence and collective acceptance. The proposal to blend library + cinema is an original idea that is convincing as a more powerful and effective solution than a library alone, considering film is able to spread ideas and information in a more emotional and global way than the printed word. It opens the center up to more international ideas, since cinema is a tool free from the restrictions of a local language or cultural context in order to be understood. As such, the choice to have an outdoor cinema amphitheater at the ground level is fitting, and speaks directly for the desire to have a civic-oriented gathering space that encourages discourse and learning. This public space is politically charged, and well-suited for the task to educate its local public about both the tragedy nearby and anti-violent political movements.
In addition to the many layers of meaning and thought about the cultural, political, and historical context of this library, the final building is also well-organized, exhibiting a clarity and strength unseen in many of the competition entries. Each level is unique from the next, and features a good range of scale in the spaces, from solitary reading to large gathering and assembly. The drawings and images featured in the presentation are detailed, thorough, and clearly organized. Casablanca Bombing Rooms is a convincing project that ultimately reaches far beyond the scope of the traditional library and becomes an energetic cultural center for the city of Casablanca.