- THE OASIS
- LANDSCAPE AND CULTURAL HERITAGE
The M’hamid Oasis is located in southern Morocco, on the valley of the Drâa River and barely 30 km from the Algerian border. This is the last oasis along this river before it buries itself in the dunes of the Sahara Desert. In the past one of the main caravan routes to Timbuktu departed from here.
This pre-Saharan landscape shelters a group of 12 traditional settlements, scattered between the dunes and surrounded by orchards and an immense palm grove. According to the latest census (in 2004), approximately 7,700 people inhabit the area.
Location of the oasis
84% of the province’s population is of rural origin, far above the national average of 52.8%.
Souss Massa Drâa Region
With the exception of New M’Hamid, earth is the primary building material of the M’Hamid Oasis, where it is omnipresent and an integral part of the landscape. Except in very particular cases, the construction systems and techniques used do not vary along all pre-Saharan valleys.
These are: rammed earth for load-bearing walls; adobes for ornamentation and construction of pillars, pilasters, arches, corbels, and domes; interior and exterior mudbased plastering as a fundamental element in ensuring the durability of constructions; and roofs built with palm tree or tamarix timber beams, reeds, fronds, and mud.
The dwelling typology consists of a two-story courtyard house with a flat roof that doubles as a terrace. With barely any opening to the outside, the courtyard regulates the indoor climate, providing natural light and ventilation to the surrounding rooms. There is no defined use for each room and they are used in accordance with the family needs and the season.
The dwelling as a unit is understood as an autonomous centre, a private space for the family that is sealed off of views and the outdoor climate. The amenities in the ksour vary according to their importance, but the mosque is present in all of them and it is usually located near the main access of the ksar.
This is a smart architecture, adapted to the environment, the territory and the harsh weather conditions. This type of urbanism, architecture, housing and construction systems are set in the essence of good architecture and construction practices, and are the basis of the so-called "sustainable architecture".