Moroccan bank BMCE, by Foster & Partners

Ancient and modern building techniques combined in Moroccan project

Foster & Partners has finished its first project in Africa with the opening of regional headquarters branches for Moroccan bank BMCE.

The branches in Rabat, Casablanca and Fez use local materials and craftsmanship and are designed to be highly energy-efficient. All three feature an ‘earth tube’ cooling system in which fresh air is drawn into the building through a long underground pipe, where it is naturally cooled by the earth.

The design is based on a ‘kit-of-parts’ approach, with variations in colour and scale for each location. Each building has a concrete frame, with an entrance colonnade and a series of bays repeated on a modular grid. The bays are enclosed by glazed panels and 200mm-deep screens made from sheets of stainless steel cut and curved to create a geometric design based on traditional Islamic patterns. These provide shade and security.

Another characteristic feature of the design is a dome with traditional tiles and plastering that sweeps down into the banking hall to create a sculptural curved bench.

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