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.