Award Cycle:Status:ShortlistedLocation:Guelmim, MoroccoClient:Université Ibn Zhor d'AgadirArchitect:Saad El Kabbaj, Driss Kettani, Mohamed Amine SianaDesign:2008-2010Size:Built area: 6883 m2; Site area: 41 haCompleted:2011
A powerful architecture, playing with the contrast between inside and outside, achieves the dignity essential to educational institutions. Situated in Guelmim, 200 kilometres south of Agadir and known as the “door of the Sahara”, the School was conceived in line with a policy of decentralisation and making education more accessible to those living in remote areas. Comprising a 250-seat lecture hall, classrooms, laboratories, study rooms, library, offices, sports grounds and staff accommodation, the campus is connected by a series of canopies that create sheltered walkways and seating areas along the north/south axis dividing the campus into two. This organisation makes for readability and clarity of the various elements of the project, while preserving the diversity of the programme. Principally rough-rendered reinforced concrete, buildings are linked by courtyards and partially covered walkways with metal and timber elements. Their volume is massive, yet this scaling finds balance with the projecting windows, louvers and narrow openings repeated throughout. Thermal considerations informed the design, including the orientation, window shading and natural ventilation. Low, massive and with varying volumes, the architecture is boldly contemporary but inspired by its context. Exterior walls are painted ochre, blending with the landscape and the town. In dramatic contrast, interiors are painted in immaculate white. Local stone was used for the terrazzo flooring. The landscaping minimises water use through a choice of local plants and natural ornamental rockeries.