Recording and Documentation of Earthen Architectural Heritage of Morocco
M’Hamid, the most remote in the Draa Valley, Southern Morocco, features one of the best preserved examples of ksour, vernacular earthen settlements surrounded by high defensive walls and reinforced by corner towers. Built on a fishbone pattern, ksour enclose tightly knit courtyard houses as well as community buildings and spaces such as mosques, souqs and gates. Outside are the palm tree groves, often punctuated by marabouts, shrines marking the burial place of a Muslim holy man or hermit.
The heritage significance of the ksour lies in their offering a complete panorama of traditional pre-Saharan habitat both in terms of urban configuration and earthen construction techniques. Besides, they enjoy an extremely diverse intangible heritage associated with local traditional crafts – bread making and couscous cooking, woven palm frond basketry and women’s clothing production – arts – Rokba music and dance – knowledge – story-telling – and building techniques – rammed earth, mud brick, palm tree wood flooring and tadelakt. Both the tangible and intangible heritage of the ksour have recently become highly vulnerable as a result of irreversible physical, socio-economic and cultural change, thus urging to record and document it before it is irreversibly lost.
About the project
Since 2017 ArCHIAM has been collaborating with Terrachidia, a Spanish cultural organization active in the preservation and dissemination of M’Hamid’s rich cultural heritage, by contributing to their workshops Restoration, Recording and Documentation of Earthen Architectural Heritage through training in documentation methods for vernacular earthen settlements and talks in heritage development principles and approaches, and participatory design strategies and methods. In the Ouled Driss settlement the documentation campaign has resulted in the recording of the main gate and street frontage, three internal streets and a gate, the souq and one dwelling, through the production of measured plan, section and elevation sketches.
Field sketches have been later developed into visualisations, 2D rendered drawings and 3D digital models which were exhibited at the Liverpool School of Architecture on 3rd July 2017 as part of the Preserving Heritage, Empowering Communities event.