The AquaDream aquarium at the Morocco Mall in Casablanca, Morocco, stands out for a couple of reasons. For starters, it is now the world’s largest conical aquarium. This massive custom aquarium, shaped like an upside down cone, is the centerpiece of the new Morocco Mall, which opened last December as the largest mall in Africa. Unlike most aquariums, there is more than just one way to observe this aquarium’s inhabitants. Shoppers can ride an elevator right through the center of the aquarium, or, if they’re feeling really adventurous, go scuba diving within the aquarium’s artificial reef.
While AquaDream is the world’s largest cone-shaped aquarium, it is not the first aquarium of its kind. The design and production team behind AquaDream, International Concept Management (ICM), created a similar aquarium back in 2004 called the AquaDom. Located inside Berlin’s Radisson SAS Hotel, the AquaDom is unlike any custom aquarium that came before it. The AquaDom holds the record for largest cylindrical aquarium in the world, an achievement which required many innovations in engineering and acrylic design. Everything that ICM learned from designing and building the AquaDom lent itself to the creation of the AquaDream. This includes challenges in aquarium design such as maintaining water clarity and water pressure, as well as securing necessary sunlight for the sensitive fish.
The acrylic aquarium at the Morocco Mall is 9.3 meters tall and 13.4 meters in diameter at its widest point. Its one million liters of saltwater are home to 3,000 saltwater fish, including some larger specimens, such as sharks and rays. However, none of the rocks and coral are actually real. The more than 3,500 pieces of coral were created with concrete and other non-toxic materials that are safe for the fish to live amongst.
In Morocco, ICM faced one engineering challenge that wasn’t present in Berlin. The Morocco Mall is located in a High Seismic zone, which meant ICM had to be absolutely sure the tank could withstand a major earthquake. Their solution was to build the aquarium on its own freestanding concrete slab so that it wouldn’t be effected by vibrations in the rest of the mall. The design was put to the test when two earthquakes struck the mall during construction and the aquarium came out totally unscathed.
Since the Morocco Mall opened last month, the AquaDream has been giving shoppers a close-up look at an underwater world we rarely get to see in person. The elevator ride through the tank totally immerses the riders in a colorful reef without any scuba gear; of course, if you want to don a scuba tank and goggles they are available to rent. Whether you choose the dry or wet experience, the Morocco Mall hopes the aquarium will reinforce the need to preserve our oceans in all of its visitors.