The Hassan II Bridge… linking Rabat with its commuter suburb

The prime purpose of the Hassan II Bridge is to link the Moroccan capital of Rabat to its neighboring city of Salé on the opposite bank of the Bouregreg river. But it is also a pedestrian walkway transforming the bridge into a shared public space and a “social commitment between city and suburb”, according to its architect Marc Mimram. It is also an innovative technological achievement and aesthetic triumph… in LafargeHolcim concrete!

 

Morocco’s capital city of Rabat and its dormitory town of Salé have always looked across the Bouregreg river at each other but never mixed much, being linked only by an aging road traffic-only bridge.

The two cities are now part of an ambitious project to bring them closer together and promote growth and development throughout the Bouregreg Valley. Known as Bab el Bahr (Gateway to the Sea), the first phase of the project involved the creation of a tramway line linking the two urban communities, the upgrading of existing roads and the construction of links for ‘soft’ traffic (pedestrians and cyclists).

The centerpiece of the entire project is the Hassan II Bridge officially opened on May 19, 2011 by King Mohammed VI. At 1.2 kilometers long and 46 meters wide, it is designed with three decks. Two carry road traffic whilst the third carries the tramway, as well as a sheltered cycle way and pedestrian walkways. So this public amenity is also a public place!

High performance concrete for an exceptional infrastructure

Technically, the bridge breaks new ground not only in its design, but also in its construction and innovative technology, used here for the first time in Morocco. Built from high-performance concrete supplied by LafargeHolcim, it is tensioned using internal and external cables. Descending to 14 meters below the water level, the spread footings of the bridge were created using 40,000 cubic meters of concrete.

We also supplied the 20,000 cubic meters of concrete for the structure, whose architectural sophistication integrates seamlessly into the environment. “We worked directly with the client on site in the Bouregreg valley to identify precisely the right finish for the unique quality of light there; a finish that would respond as sensitively as possible to its built environment, the geography of the river and the soft light of the valley. The result is that the bridge fits naturally into the location; the light concrete gives it a responsive materiality that dialogs with daylight as it changes throughout the day”, explains architect Marc Mimram. All these features allowed Marc Mimram to receive the 2013 Aga Khan Architecture Award.

Rabat and Salé can now live together.

 
 

Custom-made concrete

As part of meeting the need to prefabricate the enormous and very slender arches for the bridge, its architect asked the LafargeHolcim Research Center in L’Isle-d'Abeau to work with our teams in Morocco on developing a new concrete formulation with special properties in terms of strength and appearance. It was manufactured from white Prise Mer (seawater resistant) cement produced by the Teil plant in the Ardèche region of France, with the addition of calcareous aggregates, Kénitra dune sand and light gray fumed silica.

An award for Hassan II Bridge!

Architect Marc Mimram received the 2013 Aga Khan Award for the Hassan II bridge in Rabat. This exceptional structure beautifully connects the Moroccan capital with its suburb, with the contribution of our concrete!