Morroccan architect and anthropologist Salima Naji has been committed to the architectural heritage of her country for years. She sees a direct link between the traditional, sustainable,
Moroccan construction techniques with loam, the architecture with indoor public areas, and the way residents once used to live and work together. Her idea is that when you preserve and restore
one you will automatically preserve the other. In 2019, Naji’s book Architectures du bien commun. Pour une étique de la préservation was published, in which she explains this
Over the last few decades community life in rural areas of Morocco crumbled as its inhabitants moved to the city. Especially in remote areas,
agricultural production stagnated and date palm forests and fruit and nut orchards declined, as did the architectural heritage. For example in Vallée de l’Yissy, a beautiful 14 kilometre valley
surrounded by dry, yellow and red mountains that meanders through the anti-Atlas mountains.
The Moroccan government is increasingly trying to spread tourism across the country in the future so areas further inland may benefit too. They
also have high sustainability aspirations - unlike many other western countries, Morocco is well on track to achieve the Paris climate goals. Commissioned by the ministry of tourism, Salima Naji
and her office and the Amsterdam firm Inside Outside are
developing a strategy to turn the tide in the Vallée de l’Yissy.
For this, they focus on a new form of sustainable, community-based tourism closely intertwined with the landscape. In consultation with local
communities, seven strategic locations have been chosen from which multiple points of interests can be visited, such as traditional architecture, water basins, natural swimming pools, threshing
sites, traditional irrigation systems or cemeteries. These seven spots are located on the existing main road and are literally marked with a large circle made of local natural stone.
To promote exchange, these places are primarily designed as a public space for the local community. The recognisable circular shape visibly
connects the seven points in the valley. Yet tourists also know that a nice view or other place of interest can be found here, or a potential place to stay the night, because this is promoted in
the tourist information about the valley. The hotels and restaurants have been planned in renovated cultural heritage sites and new developments where traditional construction methods are used in
And so the circles are a first notion of change in the valley. They will further stimulate rural tourism - tourism that will benefit the locals
and is anchored in their communities. Salima Naji and Inside Outside expect social cohesion in the valley to increase as a result of these developments, and, more importantly, that the prevailing
notion of worthlessness will be replaced by a notion of worth. This will automatically lead to a focus on preserving the landscape, the historically unique ecology in the valley, the culture and
Spain was hit exceptionally hard by the coronavirus pandemic in 2020. Until early June 2020 the Spanish held a minute’s silence every day and
strict measures have been in place for more than a year, especially in Madrid. The death toll there rose so quickly that bodies had to be stored in the ice rink. In March a ‘field hospital’ with
five thousand beds was hastily set up and in autumn a brand new hospital was built: Enfermera Isabel Zendal.
Madrilenian landscape architect Cristina
Jorge Camacho designed the outdoor space for this new hospital. The principle of isolation and protection that applies indoors continues in the garden. Round ‘alcoves’, surrounded by bushes
and the odd tree, allow patients and their visitors to safely spend time in the garden. And staff can recover here from their stressful shifts on a covid ward. The garden beds and borders are
laid out in a way that allows recovering patients to walk around and in between them.
Only one hundred days were needed to complete the construction of the hospital. It consists of three separate buildings and boasts over a
thousand beds. It is to be applauded that despite the enormous cost overrun the landscape plan was still implemented, albeit only partly. And the plants will have to grow considerably before the
alcoves will feel like actual alcoves. Hopefully by that time the coronavirus pandemic will be over.
Yet it is already an interesting hospital garden. The planting is a reflection of three Spanish landscapes - Estepa Sur, Sierra Norte and Vega
Campiña - and is organised by area of origin like in a botanical garden. These landscapes were chosen because of the dry ground, and the plants that were used rarely cause allergic reactions or
The garden beds are shaped like lenses and the paths are permeable to prevent rain water from running away immediately. Also, Cristina Jorge
Camacho plays with the ability of certain types of plants to hold water. They have been grouped together in such a way that the types of plants that hold water longer function as a sponge for
other types of plants. There are several fruit trees in the garden and plant colours and scents have been carefully matched.
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