Project entry 2020 for Middle East Africa

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    Various landscaping strategies on site contribute to fighting erosion and sand dune advancement.

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    Aziza Chaouni Projects (ACP) is a multidisciplinary design firm with offices in Morocco and Canada.

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    Joudour Sahara focuses on environmental and social sustainability through the programmatic overlapping of the music school, ecolodge and anti-desertification testing ground. Courtyards between buildings promote passive cooling and collaboration between users. Outdoor reed canopies allow for active use of the site during the hot summer. Multi-use spaces such as shared administrative facilities and an outdoor auditorium reduce the built footprint and promote shared resources.

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    Longitudinal building volumes are oriented along the southwest-northeast axis in accordance with prevailing wind directions to encourage natural ventilation, and to block open spaces from the encroachment of sand dunes. Various planting strategies such as spiral formations and using half-walls to protect vegetation will serve as anti-desertification case-studies. The seguia (seen in blue) connects the site to the Drâa River east of the road.

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    Joudour Sahara is the first off-grid music school and ecolodge of its kind in Southern Morocco.

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    The palm tree grid seen in the foreground reduces sand encroachment, and walls protect vegetation.

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    M’hammid El Ghizlane is home to twelve tribal musical styles which are taught at Joudour Sahara.

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    This map demonstrates energy usage, water distribution, and circulation by different users.

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    A passively cooled occupiable water reservoir and anti-desertification eco-lodge room strategy.

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    The compost toilet system streamlines waste produced on site and protects a tamarisk tree.

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    Exhibition spaces promote passive cooling with solar chimneys and a solar-powered Canadian well system.

Last updated: November 13, 2021 Toronto, Canada

Innovation and Transferability: Vernacular Techniques with Innovative Sustainable Design

The project combines vernacular knowledge with innovative design approaches. The construction system is traditional, using rammed earth walls, palm reeds and trunks for roofs, yet it integrates easily replicable solar chimneys and Canadian wells systems to improve thermal comfort. The landscape design proposes anti-desertification and erosion strategies; such as palm leaf grids, the Growasis Waterboxx to safely grow tamarisk trees for 1-2 years with little water, and adult Tamarisk trees protected by walls of buildings to retain sand dunes in place. The combined effect of all three systems was never tested before. The orientation of all buildings and protective walls onsite considers prevailing wind patterns in an effort to protect the site from encroaching sand dunes.

Resource and Environmental Performance: Anti-Desertification and Water Strategies

The Joudour Sahara Centre is largely self-sustaining, relying on water collection and storage strategies and solar power. The only external connection is a seguia (vernacular water canal) which brings a seasonal supply of water from the nearby Drâa River to the site’s new water reservoir. The reservoir is also supplied with water collected on the roofs of adjacent buildings and feeds into a solar pump, hand-powered water pump, and drip-irrigation system. Buildings and L shaped walls are oriented to block the encroachment of sand dunes and to protect users from intense wind gales. The rammed-earth walls with small windows reduce solar gain while allowing for cross-ventilation. Facilities such as compost toilets streamline waste output and minimize the environmental footprint.

Ethical Standards and Social Inclusion: Financial and Cultural Sustainability

The effects of climate change in M’hamid have created waves of urban migration, endangering the centuries-old tribal music culture in the area. The Joudour Sahara Music School employs local musicians to transmit their knowledge to local youth as well as national and international visitors. The center’s blend of vernacular and cutting-edge sustainable design technologies creates case-studies for locals and eco-tourists. These efforts contribute to local design knowledge and promote profitability and the center's self-sufficiency. Additional revenue streams include room rentals in the ecolodge (visiting teachers, students, and tourists), music facility revenue (concert tickets, recording room rental, instrument sale, and repair) and crafts (sale of artisan creations, agricultural produce).