The corniches of Casablanca form a coastline of contrasting landscapes. From east to west, rocky overhangs frame the fortified bay of El Hank, the Lalla Meryen beach, and the beach of Ain Diab. The fragmented hilly area, the sparse vegetation, and the imposing dyke barriers attest to a hostile environment, swept by powerful winds and broken by the waves.
Although today the city suffers from a significant lack of public spaces, its inhabitants invest in the corniche only in an informal way. The urbanism of the 1980s largely neglected the seafront, maintaining the ocean at a distance from the city. Ironically, it is the aridness and barrenness of the environment from which the site derives its sublime character.
Our proposal singles out and brings together two distinct landscape entities. The El Hank park will rest against the dyke barrier offering an urban space that overlooks the Atlantic, while the Ain Diab beach, an old rural area that today has been reached by the city but remains framed by pines, will give access to the ocean.
An upper promenade, named the “baladoire” or “stroll”, runs along the coast linking these two entities. This ridge continues down the coast unifying the different architectural and landscape interventions within an overall organization clearly identifiable at the level of the wider territory.
A comblike structure broadens this promenade, compartmentalizing the linear shape of the corniches. The direction of its branchings varies, sometimes creating a succession of links with the main boulevard of La Corniche and the larger roads of Casablanca (El Hank Park), sometimes jetty towards the sea (Ain Diab Beach).
These branchings of the promenade function as well in demarcating adaptable spaces between them. Their controllable environments provide the necessary conditions for planting lush vegetation, within which a diverse number of urban activities can take place.
The El Hank Park will contain within it tree-filled gardens, and a number of facilities strictly tied to its urban context: the tourism office, places for relaxation, a pond, a skate-park and educational centers, as well as the already existing playing fields. The low-angled embankments allows for the easy integration of both public and private facilities, as well as that of rows of steps, seating, and wide stairways.
The Ain Diab beach is extended through a number of very urban mineral squares that branch out in jetty formation overlooking the beach. These are arranged at regular intervals of around every four hundred meters. Facing northeast, they create sheltered areas from the west wind.
The jetties use building walls as support, which contain within them all kinds of seaside facilities: aid and surveillance stations, showers and bathrooms, maintenance facilities, refreshment areas, reception areas for nautical clubs. Wide ramps lead down into the areas sheltered from the wind. A dunelike landscape has been artificially reconstructed. The jetties retain and contain the sands, accompanying the sedimentation process as it proceeds in order to structure the dunes in advance.
Casablanca Aménagement SA
MDP Michel Desvigne Paysagiste
JACOBS (Lead consultant)
3,5 km (2,17 miles)