project type:
Urban Design
Eco friendly
Year :
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This Center is a place of encounters and happenings, inviting the local community and tourists to experience music, art, and the desert. The project sees the center as a space that celebrates Moroccan culture and advocates for its future. Using technology, choice of materials, and landscaping, the project aims to; combat desertification, decrease the depletion of the oasis, repair desert habitat, evolve labor skills in Marrakech, and improve livelihood opportunities.

The classic desert experience, from the glaring sun to the sound of wind rustling and the slight shifting of dunes, inspires the form of the building. The starting shape is a loop, inspired by the headscarf/turban, a Moroccan desert identity. The Turban protects the head from wind-borne sand, heat, and sunburn. The loop shape of the center creates a small open but shaded courtyard protected from wind-borne sand.

The center has three zones: The cultural center, The courtyard, and The Park. The rooms inside the center are placed around the outer part of the building. The corridors and public spaces are along the inner part of the building overlooking the courtyard. The wall along the outer loop of the building is a thick layer of 3d printed adobe that protects the building from the sun. The wall along the interior loop is full-height tempered glass. The glass allows plenty of light into the building and provides users with a courtyard view. The courtyard acts as a focal point – it is visible from all angles of the building. The Park consists of a trail that connects different outdoor programs like a picnic area, cactus zone, and camel rest area.


Ecological Approach : Combating Desertification & Habitat Reparation.

An Oasis is often depleted of its natural resources. ECHO combats desertification through controlled water collection, seeding, careful selection of plants, soil modification, and crops enhancement. 

Solar panels on the roof are installed with a groove joint that allows rainwater to be collected and reused. The intent is only to collect a small amount of rainwater as needed to allow most rainwater to seep into the soil – this helps the oasis from drying out. The plaza, trails, parking lot are made of porous adobe blocks that allow water to seep into the ground and smaller grass to grow between the gaps. 


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3d-printed building

The use of adobe is traditional in Morocco. Raw materials of adobe are available locally, strong, well insulating, and malleable. The process of turning mud to adobe allows for 3d printing technology to infiltrate and evolve the adobe production. 3d printing method is more sustainable, economical, efficient, avoids unsafe labor, and builds organically formed buildings more accurately. The use of 3d printing reduces the amount of waste that came from adobe’s formwork. There is a common fear that introducing 3d printing construction can hurt the construction workforce. Yet, 3d printing is an opportunity to improve the industry and employment. One way is to train the construction workforce with new building technology. This is an opportunity for an evolved, better-skilled construction workforce in Morocco.

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Selection of plants, Seeding and soil modification

ECHO uses native resilient plants like tall trees, shrubs, and cacti. These landscapes protect the oasis from the sun, wind-borne sand, insects, and diseases.

The project treats poor soil in the area with clay-coating material that alters soil property to bind with water. This allows the soil to absorb more rainwater and prevent its aquifers from drying out. Researcher Kristian Olesen has developed a ‘Liquid Nanoclay’ technique that transforms poor sandy soils into moist, high-yielding soil. To grow the soil initiative, the expansion plan for the center includes a greenhouse and a lab. The lab will test for new ways to ensure access to sustainable food, energy, and environmental resources in the Saharan desert. Modified soils can be distributed across the region for crops and other agricultural needs. The greenhouse allows for seed propagation and young seedlings to grow, especially during unpermitted weather. When the weather permits, these seeds can then be transplanted across the region (and passed on to other farmers), and the crops/ plants are at a better stage.

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