Preservation of Sacred and Collective Oasis Sites - Aga Khan Award for Architecture
Aga Khan Development Network

Preservation of Sacred and Collective Oasis Sites

Preservation of Sacred and Collective Oasis Sites
Location: Guelmim Region, Morocco (Africa)
Architect: Salima Naji, Kénitra, Morocco
Client: Agence pour le Développement des Provinces du Sud, Cooperazione Internationale Sud Sud
Completed: 2011 ongoing
Design: 2003-2008
Site size: 3 ha

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For the last decade Salima Naji, trained as an architect and anthropologist, has worked to save the heritage of several oasis towns in the anti-Atlas mountains of Morocco. This ambitious undertaking involves four sites that range in scale from communal granaries to partially abandoned fortified towns. Naji has carried out the work with skilled masons and unskilled workmen, whom she has trained in traditional building techniques and who go on to apply their skills at other sites. Architecture and public spaces have been conserved not only for their historic value, but as locally rooted, sustainable models for contemporary building. Throughout, Naji has encouraged a participatory process with new and traditional community groups and actors. Her work provides an alternative model for conservation in Morocco: one that insists on maintaining the link between local communities and their historic environments.

2013 Award Recipients