What does the Aéroplace project involve and what urban development context does it fit into?
The Aéroplace project is located in the new urban area of Casa Anfa, on the historic site of the former Casablanca airport. Due to rapid urban growth, the airport was moved to the south of the city in the 1960s. On this strategic site, the Caisse des Dépôts et de Gestion, Morocco’s primary public financial institution, aims to develop a new urban core that will be symbolic of the urban renewal of Casablanca. A subsidiary of the institution, the Agence d’Urbanisation et de Développement d’Anfa (AUDA), is in charge of the urban planning for this 350-hectare zone that will be home to Casablanca’s future financial centre, a high-speed train station, a 50-hectare park, a shopping and entertainment centre, as well as housing, offices, hotels, and various community assets.
Workers from Bymaro and Bouygues Bâtiment International are already on site, co-developing 400 luxury housing units with Bouygues Immobilier Morocco, aiming for HQE International Excellent certification.
In May 2017, Linkcity Morocco participated in a competition launched by the AUDA to acquire a two-hectare parcel in order to develop a mixed-use project totalling 42,000 m2 of floor space, including 22,000 m2 of shopping and entertainment space. The parcel is located where the old airport terminal and first control tower were.
You decided to use the serious game ‘Quartiers durables.Play’ to flesh out the details of this project. How does the game work and what did it add to your considerations?
Urban planners have high expectations in regards to the entertainment components of the site and the preservation of buildings related to the historic airport. Linkcity Morocco wanted to use the tool ‘Quartiers durables.Play’, developed by Bouygues Construction’s Prospective and Strategic Marketing departments, to facilitate collaborative thinking and bring out creative ideas in the planning of new neighbourhoods. Our game is considered a ‘serious game’, meaning one whose goal is educational rather than purely for entertainment. Players put themselves in the shoes of fictional characters – users of the future neighbourhood – in order to imagine their needs in regards to different aspects like public spaces, mobility, infrastructure, etc.
The Play workshop that we organised in Casablanca brought together 12 people: four representatives from the AUDA, one from the architecture firm, two from the future management company for the shopping and entertainment centre, two from Bouygues Bâtiment International’s Innovation and Sustainable Development departments, two from Bouygues Construction’s Strategic Marketing department, and one representative from Linkcity Morocco. Each of these representatives took on the role of a character: the mayor, a merchant, a child, a student, a worker, a retiree, a person in a social or workforce integration programme, a person from the upper-middle class, a resident, a manager of an SME looking to move their company into the neighbourhood, etc. Diving into the lifestyles and expectations of a wide variety of profiles is necessary to design a lively neighbourhood that encourages blending of different walks of life. This method also offers new opportunities for professionals, pushing them to put the end user at the heart of their work.
What ideas came out of that session?
The game helped people see where priorities lie in regards to cultural infrastructure in the future neighbourhood. The session also brought out several proposals:
• An aviation museum that traces the history of the site and that has exhibits with models, displays of what the airport was like, and a flight simulator;
• A project centre serving as a showcase for Casa Anfa, presenting to the public models of the different projects in the neighbourhood and technical and environmental innovations on the site;
• A shared, adaptable space that encourages mixing of people from different backgrounds and that brings life to the site by offering theatre and dance classes, lectures on different topics, and educational workshops for children;
• A special venue for high-end events.
They were clearly good ideas because our technical proposal was among the submissions selected!