Holcim Foundation



“An intelligent way of reestablishing traditional techniques of artisanship”

Regional Jury Report – Middle East Africa

The project tends to foster cultural resilience through conceiving locally-adapted and …
The project tends to foster cultural resilience through conceiving locally-adapted and extremely comfortable spaces, based on the reinterpretation, enhancement and combining of local materials and crafts: clay construction, carpets and tents weaving, and wooden structure. The construction process is participatory, and involves men and women. It regenerates activity within the village and promotes interaction between the inhabitants as well as their interaction with the place.

Through its program and the buildings themselves, the project fosters local artisanship. The complex will house a children’s school and an adult training space within a recent expansion of the village of Aït Benhaddou. By means of straightforward architectural forms that follow principles of passive climate control, the expression of the design counters narratives that commend only industrial materials as modern. The project incorporates local rammed earth construction and also uses local wool and cane weaving as screens and canopies to shade the facades and exterior common spaces. The woven screens are produced by local women.

The jury commended the intricate relationship between the project’s program and its design. By explicitly incorporating the craft traditions that the project aims to advance, the building’s construction actively cultivates its own program. The elegant architecture was seen as an intelligent way of reestablishing traditional techniques of artisanship that are no longer in common use. At the same time, the thick walls and modulated shading present a careful response to climatic conditions that are simultaneously used to give the design aesthetic complexity. The project still requires refinements that adjust to the realities of working with rammed earth construction. Despite this critique, the comprehensive, research-driven approach of the design convinced the jury of the project’s merits and its strong statement of craft as a living and modern tradition.

Last Updated: May 20, 2017
Article Details
Cairo, Egypt
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Elementary school and craft training center: A learning complex that uses architecture, form, and space to claim artisanship and handiwork...

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