Abattoir Arts Campus | Option Studio

Option Studio: Ground Up: Transfiguring the Abattoirs of Casablanca

Visiting Professors Linna Choi and Tarik Oualalou

Spring 2017


The proposed Abattoir Arts Campus is a reaction to three primary situations within the existing context. Currently in Casablanca, there are very limited means to be educated within the creative arts, and many locals that we interacted with during our visit expressed motivation to change this. Additionally, there are limited financial means to realize this project, particularly at the start when long-term success is uncertain. Last, the abattoir’s ownership is contested, and it is not currently treated as a public amenity, but instead protected by an exterior wall and constant security.

Therefore, at the scale of the whole site, the proposal for the Abattoir Arts Campus redefines the boundary condition for the campus to allow for new public spaces to be created, and incorporates a phasing strategy to build only the most crucial interventions that are required to jumpstart the Abattoir Arts Campus. This presentation reflects this phasing concept, and focuses on two existing buildings: the intercommunications hall and the slaughterhouse.

At the architectural scale, this proposal focuses on strategic demolition of the existing slaughterhouse and minimal material interventions to maintain the architectural character of the existing building, while allowing it to change gain a new identity with limited means.

The Abattoir Arts Campus is organized around a central fabrication and gathering core, which connects the public circulation galleries, and the art studios.
Porous and non-porous brick partitions create a variable threshold based on programmatic relationships. For example, a non-porous partition separates the housing from the galleries, and a porous partition allows views and light between the gallery and studios. These are non-load-bearing walls that are an independent system from the existing columns, which allows for geometric flexibility to create more fluid gallery spaces in contrast with the column grid.

The existing columns have a shelf-like form that previously held the rail system in the slaughterhouse. These columns are used to support the new mezzanine level studios, which reinforce the idea of programmatic mixing through views.

For the roof, the deteriorating light wells are removed, which would not provide adequate natural lighting for creative work. The new natural lighting system takes on three primary types: The courtyard light wells provide a central gathering space for each art school and the light scoops above the circulation galleries are oriented to the south to create a space closer to an outdoor street, whereas the light scoops over the studios and housing are oriented to the north to bring in indirect light.

The primary materials for the interventions, brick and aluminum panels, are paired with a strategy to commission local artists to paint or graffiti the materials, which will act as a catalyst for creating a new identity for the abattoir.