Agence d’Architecture A. Bechu & Associés has won a competition to design a new campus for the University of Laâyoune to be located in the oceanside town of Foum el Oued, Morocco (Western Sahara). Launched by King Mohammed VI last February, the competition was named a national priority project supported by Office Chérifien des Phosphates (OCP), a Moroccan company and the world’s leading producer of phosphate. The project was aimed at contributing to the economic and social boom of the region by creating a new platform for innovation and research & development.
AAAB & Associés’ design responds to this call by envisioning a campus integrated with the natural desert site to create a dialogue between building and its environment. Responding to the local climate, and taking inspiration from the lines of nearby sand dunes, the buildings come together via a central, canopied artery that creates shaded, public space for meeting and interaction. This interior street takes the form of a large crack in the dried desert earth, but will instead be filled with vegetation to contribute to cooling and atmosphere.
The campus will also follow the dual objectives given by the OCP. First, to make the University of Laayoune a ground for experimental teaching methods in fields such as water, energy and desert agriculture through the installation of living laboratories dedicated to new environmental technologies and biomimicry; and secondly, to develop a building capable of exemplary energetic passivity.
Teaming with structural engineers DVVD, environmental consultant Ennesys and planning consultants EMBIX, the architects developed a sustainable strategy that will allow the campus to obtain 80% of its energy from passive sources, as well as recycle dust, water and organic waste into reusable water and high-value bio fertilizer. The approach will mix traditional and modern technologies to create an intelligent grid inspired by the local environment. These techniques will allow the complex to approximate zero-waste metrics.
The project hopes to set an example of how to design sustainable cities in the harsh African desert – by 2050, the African population is predicted to double to 2.5 billion inhabitants, for whom new architecture will need to be developed to accommodate.
The University of Laâyoune will be completed in 2018 and will hold its grand opening in September of that year.
LocationFoum el-Oued, Morocco
ArchitectAgence d'Architecture A. Bechu & Associés
PhotographsCourtesy of Agence d’Architecture A. Bechu & Associés