The Joudour Sahara Music School in Morocco and the architectural office leading its conception, design, and construction — Aziza Chaouni Projects have received two awards in Sustainable Construction from the Holcim Foundation.
Aziza Chaouni Projects received the Acknowledgement Prize in the Middle East & Africa regional competition as well as the Global Bronze Prize for their work at Joudour Sahara’s cultural campus. The Holcim Global Awards are the world’s most significant competition for sustainable design. Aziza is the first African architect to place in the top three twice among the Global Prize since the Holcim Foundation has been offering these awards.
Aziza and her team have been leading research on the sustainable architecture in the oasis of M’hamid for more than a decade now and have produced full design services as volunteers. In 2009, her innovative research on construction in arid climates was initiated thanks to the support of the Cook Foundation, the John H. Daniels School of Architecture previous Dean George Baird, and the SMIT (Société Marocaine d'Ingénierie Touristique).
Aziza, Associate Professor at the University of Toronto and principal at Aziza Chaouni Projects (ACP) (Morocco / Canada) and a co-founder of Joudour Sahara, and designed with her team a project with the aim to help preserve the oasis of M’hammid’s sociocultural and economic fabric by creating a self-sustaining cultural center. Through a participatory design process which involved many members of the community, the campus’ programs were conceived. In addition, Aziza Chaouni Projects, Sahara Roots, and other project partners have been building capacity locally to implement and maintain anti-desertification technologies with the goal of reducing rural to urban migration from the region. ACP’s design incorporates traditional rammed earth 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 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. ACP hopes Joudour Sahara will serve as an important case study for socially and ecologically sustainable construction in arid regions.