Grand Ouarzazate, an oasis town for the 21st century

Grand Ouarzazate, located on the southern slope of the High Atlas at the gateway to the desert and sub-Saharan Africa, is rich in its thousand-year-old culture and exceptional sites. The activity of this region has been positioned in recent decades on its tourist potential and hosting the cinematographic industry. The "Noor Ouarzazate" solar complex opens up a new aspect of its attractiveness.
The international teams brought together by the Ateliers de Cergy were called upon in 2018 to work collectively on a course formulated for the Grand Ouarzazate by the Governor of the Province and the Presidents of the communes:
- To make it, based around agriculture and water, the foundations of the oasis, an attractive region of world level based on several aspects; cinema, the thermo-solar industry and tourism.
- To make it a model ecological town, a showcase for oasis locations.
The spatialised proposals resulting from this work focused on the following themes:
- To improve the quality of urban life by creating tree-lined public spaces, new housing models, adapted to the climate and current lifestyles, and to strengthen social life in participatory places in the different neighbourhoods.
- To rebalance the banks of the central wadi by reorganising mobility and reconsidering the programme for a vast "urban pole" to adapt it to current economic realities and to accommodate new facilities, particularly universities.
- To improve water efficiency by ensuring the sharing of water between domestic, agricultural and industrial needs and move towards food self-sufficiency by extending the green belt and reinvestment of the major bed of the Wadi.
- To restore the earth's dignity as a building material: as the basic material of vernacular architecture, it is - despite its insulating properties - being abandoned in favour of cinder block. Proposals have been made to restore the esteem for this ecological material and reactivate the industry and know-how through contemporary architecture, in line with current lifestyles.

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