Morocco’s new high-speed train station in Kenitra, equipped with a giant mashrabiya
The new Kenitra high-speed train station, Morocco, is a link between past and future, as well as a very important infrastructure for the country. The main stop on the line connecting Tangier to Casablanca, this station redesigns the look of the Moroccan city from different points of view. First of all, it connects two different urban areas, the historic center to the north and a newly expanded area to the south, which used to be connected only by a small and unsanitary underpass under the railway.
The other important function is that of a public space. The station houses stores and services for the public in the common areas and in the area of the new bridge above the tracks. Moreover, its look repeats a typical motif of Arab architecture on a giant scale. Not only does this pattern have a decorative effect; used on such a large scale, it also has a cooling function.
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Natural cooling with the mashrabiya
Kenitra station, designed by Silvio d’Ascia Architecture together with Omar Kobbité Architectes, is characterized by a light aesthetic given by the use of the typical mashrabiya, transformed into a large geometric pattern that characterizes the building.
The main façade is 12 meters high and 200 meters long, just like a standard TGV. The pedestrian bridge and elevated walkways were built by joining over 800 triangular blocks of reinforced concrete, which make up the typical geometry of the mashrabiya. This structure, originally a grid used to screen windows to help cool interior spaces, helps the passage of wind and keeps spaces naturally ventilated.
At street level, the giant mashrabiya is interrupted to create eight impossible arches, openings with different curvatures and sizes connecting the hub with the outside. Lights and shadows, transparencies and reflections define the interiors of the station; the white structure contrasts with a dark stone floor, the same used for the large square in front of it. In perfect harmony with the context, this building successfully combines recovery of tradition and contemporary functionality. Ph: Takuji Shimmura