Landscape: Atelier Bertand Houin
Client: Groupe CDG
Program: Sports equipment: semi-olympic swimming pool, sports hall, spa, gym, club house
Text description provided by the architects. Located in the heart of the Souissi district in Rabat, the Wifaq club benefits from a rich landscape heritage. Upon entering, the visitor finds himself in a particular site, open and wooded, that offers depths of field that provide a sense of well-being, favorable for the practice of outdoor sports. Surrounded by dense and tall windbreak hedges, the site is introverted, protected from its immediate environment. The landscape framework of the plot, reflecting the agricultural past of the suburbs of Rabat whose traces are still present in the area, is indeed characterized by its tall trees which are typically the orchards’ windbreak hedges.
Fruit trees and jacarandas embellish the different playgrounds dedicated to various sports and fit naturally into this composition. The urban piece hence constituted creates an original universe, protected in its green setting. This coherent set, accompanied by modest in size buildings scattered across the site, was converted and densified to accommodate new features to strengthen and diversify the commercial offer of the club. To accommodate these new activities without degrading the original values of the site, we suggested a targeted and measured response, respectful of both the memory of the club and the predominantly residential surroundings.
The main issue at stake concerning our intervention was how to sanctuarize this place and protect the landscape’s relics while organizing the conditions of its development. By densifying the northern half of the site to preserve the landscape quality of the southern half and its rehabilitated tennis courts, digging into the ground to build high-rise volumes and insert the stands of the center court and by imagining a vegetated parking area right in front of the street, the architectural and landscape project helped promote club Wifaq’s heritage while giving it new ambitions in terms of programming, visual identity and spatial experience.
In this garden of sports and wellbeing, the memory of the club and the district are honored and respected. Even the most structuring sports equipment are integrated in the most gentle and natural way possible, to avoid disturbing the magic and serenity of the site. The particular care is given to natural light and the obsession of horizontality expressed by white flat roofs and cantilevers of different materials (facades made of hammered stone from Khenifra and wooden blades) contribute in the creation of a new living space both contemporary and rooted in its history.