We haven’t always loved Foster & Partners developments in the Middle East. Although they are visually spectacular, we often wonder at the true sustainability of buildings that cost millions of dollars to construct. But the first of three Moroccan projects commissioned by BMCE (Banque Marocaine du Commerce Exterieur) may be an exception.
Albeit no quaint mom-and-pop straw bale building, the bank is nonetheless slightly less flamboyant than other F&P projects. By incorporating several energy-saving and passive design elements, the firm has kept the building’s carbon footprint to a minimum, while relying extensively on local materials, craftsmanship, and design.
The outer screen is made from a low-iron stainless steel that doesn’t heat up as quickly as conventional steel. Evoking traditional Arabic architecture, the screens help to keep the building’s interior nice and cool without sacrificing natural daylighting. Black granite and grey limestone are among the materials sourced locally.
A familiar scene in the Arab world, the dome was plastered on the inside with a technique called tadelakt, while exterior was sculpted with traditional ceramic tiles called zellige.
The building is cooled without electricity with a system F&P call “earth tube.” Water circulated around the circumference of the building in underground pipes maintains a comfortable interior temperature. The first two BMCE banks are in Rabat and Casablanca, while a third in Fez is still being completed.
All images via Nigel Young, Foster & Partners.
More on sustainable architecture in the Middle East:
Bring Moshe Safdie’s Green Building to the Middle East
Hassan Fathy is the Middle East’s Father of Sustainable Architecture
What’s Sustainable About Masdar’s Foster & Partners?