Greater Good: Learning Annex
Bioclimatic architecture is gaining a foothold in Morocco. It’s courtesy of BC Architects & Studies and the Goodplanet Foundation, which collaborated in Aknaibich four years ago on a preschool that minimizes negative impact and improves energy efficiency by employing local elements, the tenet of bioclimatic architecture. Now, the Belgian firm and the French nonprofit have united again for another preschool, this time in Ouled Merzoug.
The existing structure, attached to an elementary school, was in poor condition and could no longer accommodate all the children from the village. Architect Laurens Bekemans worked pro bono alongside his fellow BC co-founders as well as villagers and architecture students from Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in what was a true community effort, resulting in a new 1,900-square-foot school that’s not only environmentally responsible, but also design forward and playful.
Materials were chosen based on availability and environmental effects. “Their vernacular aspect was a source of inspiration,” Bekemans says. The foundation is granite mined from rocky hills nearby. Classroom walls are locally sourced adobe, which has built-in thermal properties. Flooring is polished concrete. Doors are made from reed found in an area riverbed, and then framed in blue-painted steel. The same metal forms colorful chairs. When it’s time for outdoor recreation, there are two courtyards, their walls formed with child-height apertures for viewing the distant Atlas Mountains.