Morocco Mall – Description of Design International.
The Elements of Nature
In early 2007, Salwa Idrissi Akhannouch – visionary Chairman of the Aksal Group was looking for an innovative architect to design the best shopping mall in Morocco and beyond. When she met Davide Padoa of Design International, rising star retail architect, the two quickly realized that they shared a visionary ambition, and thus the idea of Morocco Mall was born.
Davide Padoa vividly recalls his thought when seeing the site for the first time: ‘The site looked very long at a first glance, so I imagined something were you could see the beginning but not the end. This gave me the idea to design a long curved façade, where the centre of the curve is far out in the ocean, so when you walk along the building you can’t see where it ends.
Later on, this led me to design a mall which resembles the shape of the number “8”, which also refers to the infinity symbol. Designing the illusion of a shape that never finishes was probably inspired by the sound of the waves that never stops. So the source of inspiration was nature on one side but also humanity on another side: I was deeply impressed by Madam Selwa Akhannouch’s – Chairman of Groupe Aksal – search for beauty and thirst for quality design in every detail. This gave me and all my team the confidence to share ideas without hesitation with her – who I realised being a truly talented designer all along the creative process.’
Located on the Casablanca Corniche by the Atlantic Ocean, Morocco Mall is ranked in the top 5 destination malls of the world. Morocco Mall is the first and only destination Mall in Southern Europe, the Mediterranean, and Africa.
With an investment of 2.3 billion Dirhams (200 million Euros/ 265 million US Dollars) and sprawling over 24,700 acres, Morocco Mall invites everyone to enjoy a diversity of shopping stores, entertainment areas and restaurants, to live a magical experience with friends or family, in a truly exclusive architectural design.
With a retail surface of 753,500 sq. feet and 350 shop units, Morocco Mall brings together 600 brands from luxury, culture, consumer electronics, high street fashion, restaurants, entertainment and leisure, many of which opening a store for the first time in Africa.
With the opening of Morocco Mall, 21,000 indirect jobs and 5,000 direct jobs have been created. Morocco Mall is an ambitious joint project carried out by AKSAL and Al Jedaie Groups that has a positive and sustainable impact on Casablanca and Morocco while changing the habits of the consumers in the region.
Located in the main court of Morocco Mall, the aquarium, one of the biggest of its kind in the northern hemisphere, holds about 1,000,000 liters of water. At the core of the aquarium is a lift, which takes visitors on a spectacular journey through the inside of the aquarium to its top. Once at the top, visitors find themselves on a platform, overlooking the central court of the mall and leading to 4 different food courts.
The carefully considered landscape design of Morocco Mall reinforces and enhances the architectural language of the development. It reflects and incorporates the natural elements of the seashore, thereby creating a natural bridge between the building and the sea. The landscape is undulating, rolling and punctuated with dune like mounds, presenting customers and flaneurs alike with a playful oasis of tranquility as part of the City’s main waterfront promenade refurbishment. Two sinuous ribbon-like paths explore the three dimensional landscape, moving through and uniting a variety of spaces for recreation and leisure activities. The Musical Fountain is the centrepiece of the external landscape and it is the 3rd largest of its kind in the world.
Morocco Mall: A World Record Breaking Story
At the inner core of the Morocco Mall, spanning all three levels, is the Galeries Lafayette store, one of only 4 stores of the famous brand outside of France. The store was designed as a ‘building within a building’, as if the mall was built around the Galeries Lafayette store. The unusual architectural concept, unheard of in a shopping mall, has allowed for this spectacular centerpiece of the mall to have its own unique and recognizable façade. The 2 upper levels connect to the store only along its entrances, making the store an almost freestanding building, with an unusually large in-store façade. In fact, the façade is so big that it attracted the attention of the retail industry, even before its opening. The media storm that engulfed Morocco Mall in late 2011 found its first highlight at MAPIC – the international market for retail real estate – in Cannes on the 17th of November 2011, when it was officially awarded a Guinness World Record™ for having ‘the largest in-store façade in the world’.
But it is not only the size of the façade that makes the Galeries Lafayette store stand out. Its state of the art, back-illuminated façade is both a homage and 21st century reincarnation of the original store on Boulevard Hausmann in Paris.
An intelligent lighting design graphically creates the shape of the Art Nouveau dome of the original store on the façade, which illuminates the surrounding mall area and creates a glamorous atmosphere.