Located on the Atlantic Coast approximately 90 km south of the capital city Rabat, Casablanca is the largest city, not only in Morocco, but the Maghreb. It is the nation's chief port, and the business and financial center of the country.
Originally known as Anfa, the city of Casablanca started out as a small settlement. It was renamed Casa Branca by the Portuguese who took control of the city in 1468 CE/872 AH. They rebuilt the city and changed its name to "Casa Branca" Like Casablanca, a term that came into use when Portugal became part of the Spanish Kingdom, it means "White House." In 1755/1168 AH the city was largely destroyed by an earthquake and abandoned by the European population. It was rebuilt by Sultan Sidi Mohammed Ben Abdellah, during whose reign the harbor became essential to sugar, tea, wool, and other trade. From 1912 to 1956 the city was part of the French Protectorate, who continued to use the Spanish name. The first governor, Marshal Lyautey developed the ambitious plan to may the city the economic capital of Morocco. In 1953 Michel Écochard devised a linear extension plan that would stretch between the ports of Casablanca and Mohammedia.
The low buildings of the medina contrast starkly with the skyscrapers of the new city. According to the World Population Review, the 2015 population of the city itself was significantly over 3 million, with the population of the metropolitan area being estimated at approximately 5 million.
The Agroparc office building houses three entities which handle about 37 per cent of Morocco's agricultural products. Their activities are geared towards marketing, communication, and "selling" the image and label of Morocco. The project is located in the countryside, on a hilly site offering a panoramic view of the Atlantic. The structure blends with the site in a unique way. It is partially buried in the higher part of the terrain, with the tops and sides planted as part of the surrounding landscape. The site offered two important natural features, the slope and the view of the sea. Both features constituted important considerations in the design of the project.
The building's main floor is divided into three major sections: enclosed offices and open working areas; top management and administration; and shared facilities and common areas. The main sections are grouped around a glass covered court which acts as a distributing hall connecting all the activities of the building. The sections are placed on one multi-level ground floor that follows the slope of the site. A receding upper floor is placed on top of the higher part of the ground floor, and contains the formal restaurant and the cafeteria. The general services are located in the basement level.
The concept aimed to group the main functions around a major distribution element, based on the idea of the traditional court house in which the courtyard acts as an introverted space towards which most functions converge. Within the rural context, the courtyard as a distribution element was translated into a large greenhouse. The building masses run parallel to the slope of the site offering a continuous view of the sea. The design provided one main floor space, containing all the major functions, which is articulated internally into stepped open areas following the slope of the site.
Landscaping was an integral part of the design evolution. The main part of the structure was made to blend totally with the site through the extensive plantation of the roof tops as garden terraces. This part of the structure is only visible through the horizontal glass areas. The garden terraces on top of the building are irrigated through a system of water channels and ducts resembling traditional irrigation systems of the Atlas mountain.