Maison de Justice

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MAISON DE JUSTICE // Dakhla, Marruecos, 2015

Halfway between solid ground and the Atlantic Ocean, along a strip of land that has experienced permanent changes over time, the remnants of every civilization, since the conception of Dakhla until today, have disappeared as a consequence of human intervention.

A great vacant space in the central area of the town has been chosen to erect a new courthouse building, in a bid to make an unequivocal statement and create an urban space, not just an edifice. Located opposite the mosque, the design projects over a whole block and incorporates a palm tree garden and water fountains that interconnect some of its areas. A determination to embed the proposed design in the local culture, where geometry, materials and technique are instrumental in the achievement of goals on many different levels. The project is focused on giving continuity to the telluric and Arabic architectural style, closely related to the earth, by means of a strong association with water, plants and light. As a result, instead of arising from an architectural starting point, the design develops from a mere interpretation of the location itself. As a matter of fact, one of the main features of this location is its ability to create several exterior spaces of unique quality, also contributing to a smoother correlation with the surrounding buildings, primarily the mosque. Conceived as an exercise of urban planning, this project also takes in great consideration the restoration of the balance between all the elements, the outdoor empty spaces and the massive hall in order to maximize accessibility. The brand-new courthouse will be more efficient and will adapt in a better and more flexible way to the requirements and permanent variations of judicial bodies, also allowing future enlargement executions.

The projected building sits organically on a platform that is directly associated to the outdoor spaces (accesses, gardens, parking area, etc.), giving preference to the indoor/outdoor correlation over a three-storey complex. The ground floor accommodates all public areas such as: access, reception-control, great entrance and triple height lobby, common areas, hearing rooms, etc. The upper floors are configured as office spaces, also including leisure areas with access to patios. The sunlight is attenuated by the implementation of wooden lattice panels, for privacy and protection from incoming light. Distribution hallways of disparate geometry traverse the interior of the building and feature supporting spaces, as well as windows giving access to the indoor patios and the palm tree exterior garden.

The project required the biggest possible exterior ground area to remain unexploited. The precise location of the building on the Northeast end of the plot was necessary to gain all the garden space at the front, open to the park, , also to integrate a series of green areas in the form of a palm tree garden with several entrances for vehicles and pedestrian users. All the constructive elements feature great simplicity: a concrete structure; painted and stucco-decorated interior walls; inverted ceilings and glass hollows covered with wooden lattice panels. Also important is the consistency of dimensions throughout its four façades, which stand out not because of the materials that have been used -concrete, wood and glass- but as a result of the simpleness of its window framing. Its technical features produce a sort of air bubble that helps keep temperature variations under control, giving the structure a light compact appearance. The seamless design of the interior and exterior glazing transforms the façade into a unique, representative and recognizable entity within the ensemble. Strict geometrical variations and bioclimatic solutions have been chosen to complete the execution works within the shortest time span possible.