The sustainable oasis upgrade in M’hammid El Ghizlane, Morocco, was honored with the Global Holcim Award Bronze. The project application was named "Cultural Interlude: A self-sustaining center to preserve tribal cultural heritage" by the architect Aziza Chaouni from Aziza Chaouni Projects, who has offices in Fez, Morocco and in Canada. We are very proud to have contributed to the sustainability of this project by developing the concepts collaboratively in a workshop with the design team.
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The oasis in the Drâa Valley in southern Morocco is losing its inhabitants, and along with them its heritage. This project aims to help preserve local life and culture by creating a self-sustaining cultural center in the town. It incorporates traditional construction with appropriate technologies such as solar chimneys and solar-powered geothermal systems along with passive systems like composting toilets and rainwater harvesting for both domestic and irrigation purposes. “The project lies in the Sahara Desert at the fringe of an arid oasis acutely lacking water resources, so it has no choice but to be sustainable,” explains prizewinner Aziza Chaouni. “It needs to generate its own energy, collect its own water, and distribute it in a very efficient manner to make use of every single drop of water.” The Global Holcim Awards jury recognized the laudable intention to address the issue of tribal-community displacement due to the threat of climate change by suggesting a design solution that enables people to remain rooted in their hometown and maintain their traditions. “This project combines many different elements into a whole that serves a bigger purpose,” sums up Marilyne Andersen, Head of the Academic Committee of the Holcim Foundation.