“…we have been searching for a definition of Islamic architecture. One of our first conclusions has been that no single definition exists. Islamic architecture has reflected different climates, different times and materials, and thus today, in speaking about a revival, let me underline to you that I am far from referring to a new school! I do not believe it can exist, nor should it be encouraged, because this would stifle that strength which comes from the diversity of the Islamic world, and the creativity of those who will build around us in the years ahead. We have however sought the essentials that go beyond regional factors of climate and materials and the limitations of period technology.”
Shortlisted Project – 2014-2016 Award Cycle: Guelmim School of Technology, Morocco
Situated in Guelmim, Morocco, 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.
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 inform 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.
A powerful architecture, playing with the contrast between inside and outside, achieves the dignity essential to educational institutions.
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Researched & Compiled by Arif Ali