Site The northern edge of the Sahara Desert, surrounded by arid plains and mountains.

Program Mobile, semipermanent, and permanent touristic accommodations and Nomadic dwelling upgrades at the Ain Nsissa Eco Tourism Facilities.

Solution A team of Saharan nomads and local officials, with architects and landscape architects at the University of Toronto John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design—led by studio director Aziza Chaouni—produced a zoning study and a series of housing prototypes for tourists and nomadic people alike. Using systems such as rammed-earth walls and camel-hair fabric, the prototypes strive to create minimal effects on the environment. Jurors were impressed by the unique sensibility with regard to development. “This is a cultural investigation that results in structures that tie the culture to the land, but in a progressive way,” juror Ann Beha said.

Tourists are housed in camel-hair tents (shown above) designed with protective netting and a ventilation chimney for passive cooling. Flexible solar panels secured to the tent fabric generate electricity. The dwellings intrigued the jurors with their inventiveness. “The depth of thought that went into this is really profound,” juror Cathy Simon said. “Architects … rarely have the discipline or the modesty to do so little.”

Project Credits

Ain Nsissa Eco Tourism Facilities, Bouarfa, Morocco
Architect  Designing Ecological Tourism/University of Toronto, John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design—Aziza Chaouni (lead); Jessey Gresley-Jones, Samar Zarifa (landscape architects); Amanda Chong, Louis Liu, Andres Bautista, Utako Tanabe, Vjosana Shkurti (architects); Fatima Zohra Ouazzani (tourism management)
Ecologists  Nina Mary Lister and Chris Johnson
Tourism  Younes Kharshaf
Marketing  Ali Rachid
Size  4,000 square feet