Building with Moroccan light

Light in all its varieties! That is what the midnight sun in the far north, Provence’s deep-blue sky -cherished by Cézanne- and light reflection on Casablanca's bright Art Deco quarters or on Tangiers, the white city, have in common.
Street of a souk in Marrakech with trellises that allow rays of light
A Marrakech souk | (c) c. Hug

Light is special in the medinas and souks of Morocco. It is revealed by the shadows projected by the lattice that roof them. Soft and pleasant, it warms up the atmosphere inspiring feelings proper to these places where people flow and pass by.

Light is a unique material and architects need to understand it, shape it and work with it subtly. It can reveal architecture, give form to volumes and highlight materials. Light inhabits space and traces its contours. Its strength, transparency or reflection can change our perception of a place.

Capturing and staging daylight in a building is a unique occasion both to echo the local atmosphere and offer users the pleasure of strolling around.

A ray of sunlight falls on the benches of the waiting area of the new station of Casa Port
Waiting area at the brand new Casa-Port station | Architectes : AREP - Etienne Tricaud, Philippe Druesne, Christophe Iliou et Groupe3 Architectes - Omar Tijani, Skander Amine | (c) Etienne Tricaud
Skylights Hall of the Casa Port Train Station
The roof lanterns of the Casa-Port station concourse | Architectes : op. cit. | (c) Cyrille Weiner
 Travelers in the lobby of the new Casa-Port Train Station, moucharabieh background and the ground tried to light sheets
Casa-Port station concourse Architectes : Op. Cit. | (c) Etienne Tricaud

Railway stations are the ultimate example of public access buildings, designed to accommodate significant passenger flows. For this reason, they need to support passengers' needs and comfort. In this context, light can be used to achieve three complementary goals:

  1. Capture the spirit of a place. The light of Casablanca is unique. West wind from the ocean constantly sweeps through the city and, depending on the season, gives sky -always dazzling in its brightness- its changing aspects. This light needs to be captured -it is the intended purpose of the roof lanterns punctuating Casa Port station.  However, we also need to shelter from sunlight and this function is assigned to the fibre-reinforced concrete mashrabiyya on the west facade. The shadow it projects pays  tribute both to the traditions of Casablanca and oriental palaces.
  2. Promote space legibility. If you can see your way you know where you are heading to. Signage is there to accompany you. The route is clearly defined. Light, whatever its source, is an invitation to enter a space. Controlled lighting is key to creating a place both visible and legible where travellers can find their way easily and see the space as part of a cohesive system.
  3. Provide well-being. A part of a place's atmosphere, light can have a soothing effect and offset the stress and crowded scenes often associated with travels by providing a sense of comfort within the station.


 Panoramic view of the TGV maintenance Technicentre Tangier
South and west facades of the ONCF Maintenance Depot in Tangiers | Architectes : AREP - Etienne Tricaud, Philippe Druesne, Christophe Iliou, Youssef Melehi | (c) E. Verstrepen
Interior view of Technicentre with overhead lighting
Vertical natural light inside the workshops | Architectes : Op. Cit. | (c) E. Verstrepen
Interior view of the polycarbonate Technicentre ceiling and opalescent canvas
The translucent roof of the ONCF Maintenance Depot in Tangiers | Architectes : Op. Cit. | (c) E. Verstrepen

Tangiers, the white city overlooking the Strait of Gibraltar opposite Spain, has a clearly Mediterranean ambience. In a place such as the RGV Maintenance Depot, two major benefits can be gained from natural light:

  1. A building bathing in natural light located on a site that is properly managed is a building with reduced energy consumption, which translates into a sustainable project with optimal operational budget.
  2. A fabric envelope casts a soft light devoid of shadows thus creating a pleasant working environment while making the agents' fine work easier.


Life is an adventure intimately connected to light that surrounds and accompanies us in our everyday life. Just as sight, hearing and smell help us describe people, places and cultures, light quality gives insight into our environment and affects our perception