Ksar Tafilet, Algeria

Today, a common perception is that it is not possible to build cities with traditional #materials and #designs, in line with local #culture, and get the same level of comfort and amenities that modern techniques provide. Yet the example of Ksar Tafilelt , Ghardaia tells us a different story.

Ksar Tafilelt was built 20 years ago in the M’zab region of the Algerian #desert. Launched in 1997 at the initiative of the Amidoul Foundation to respond to the lack of affordable #housing in the region, Ksar Tafilelt is an eco-city built on a rocky hill on the outskirt of Beni-Isguen, an oasis town located in the #Sahara desert. The city was designed by following principles that are very close to our hearts at SEHER Asia: #sustainability, use of #traditional local building and design techniques, and improved quality of life for its inhabitants.

Inaugurated in 2006, the entire #town was built using construction techniques inspired by ‘ksour’, traditional fortified cities of the M’zab region classified as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. Buildings were designed in line with the visual #identity of ancient local settlements.

We see 3 main reasons that made the initiative successful:
1. Adaptation to the local context and sustainability were placed at the heart of the project, and enabled the city to thrive under harsh conditions. Inspired by techniques developed over centuries to adapt to the scorching Saharan heat and resource scarcity, the city design uses narrow #streets and limited #buildings’ height to 7.60 meters, which breaks down winds, provides shadow and yet allows light into the house. Good thermal and phonic #insulation came from using local materials such as #stone, #plaster, palm tree wood and #lime. #Mashrabiya (fine net style screens) ensured indoor ventilation. All flats are equipped with amenities of modern comfort. Electricity is partly supplied from #solar power plants, and #wastewater is ecologically treated in an eco-park;
2. The use of local materials lowered the #cost of construction and provided affordable homes with modern comfort in a context of a housing crisis in the region;
3. Finally, #community involvement plays a big role in sustainably managing the city. Based on the local ‘touizah’ tradition, #citizens take part in civic works to maintain the cleanliness of the city and sort their household #waste.

Ksar Tafilelt demonstrates that building cities differently today works. Promoted as an example to be replicated, it was rewarded the 1st Sustainable City Prize and came second in the Green City Solutions Awards competition at the occasion of the COP22 in Marrakech.

Now, Ksar Tafilelt was built for only 6,000 dwellers. Can we upscale such practices to rapidly growing #Asian cities where millions of people need adequate housing? We wonder whether a solution lies in community engagement. How would our cities look like if local communities were involved in designing, building and maintaining housing projects instead of or together with real estate companies? At the very least, the approach would bring in more connection with the local context, more creativity and more ownership.

To learn more:
– watch this video: https://www.facebook.com/brutnature/videos/231998454023826/ ;
– Visit the website of the Amidoul Foundation: http://www.tafilelt.com/

#SEHER Asia #unicitiofficial #algeria #city #cities #ecocity #sustainability #resilience #urbanism #heritage #worldheritage #design #architecture #sustainabledevelopment #nature #climateresilience #green #environment #planning #ksour #mzab #ksartafilelt #building #technique #materials #resilience #climatechange #HeritageConservation #cities #vernacular #heritagelessons #urban #rural #conservation #makeheritagefun #energy #efficiency #environment

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