09 May 2018
M'zab Valley, Algeria
Sustainable Housing & Construction

Green and eco-friendly homes are thriving in line with innovative developments and technological advances. In Algeria, one man has figured out how to combine the modern and the traditional, blending cutting-edge architectural innovation with ancient craftsmanship. This future-gazer is Daddi Addoun El Khoudir, who has taken on the challenge of bringing more sustainable construction practices to Algeria.

In the distance, you can make out five ksours (fortified cities), perched on a rocky hillside, 600 kilometers south of Algiers in the M’Zab valley. The ksours blend into the landscape – since the 10th century, they have been specifically designed to support a communal way of life. Comfortable, basic, and built using locally-available resources, the houses still stand strong. They cut a different figure from modern, concrete buildings that are increasingly dominating Algeria’s urban landscape.

El Khoudir is in awe of these ancient houses, which represent the true historical and architectural heritage of the area. Born and bred in the M’Zab region, the structural engineer is fully committed to preserving this heritage, while bringing that heritage into the modern era. El Khoudir believes that we should rethink our approach to eco-friendly construction, taking inspiration from the ancient ksours. “[They] provide us with an efficiency benchmark due to how they were designed and the materials used to build them,” said El Khoudir.

This project has driven him to set up his own company – Les Bâtisseurs Des Oasis (“The Oasis Builders”) to develop construction skills while also protecting the environment and M’Zab’s local economy. It involves creating energy-efficient houses by adapting construction methods to suit environmental conditions. El Khoudir selects building materials – be they stone, limestone, or raw soil – to find that location’s most eco-friendly, locally sourced solution. In this way, Les Bâtisseurs Des Oasis makes use of local labour, building the region’s economic and social growth.

El Khoudir was unable to accept the prospect of his beloved M’Zab Valley being buried under the concrete of urbanization. He grasped the opportunity to take part in SwitchMed training to preserve the region’s architectural heritage by taking direct action. This training programme has allowed him to refine his business plan and gradually launch his project. SwitchMed supported the launch of Les Bâtisseurs Des Oasis during the 8-month business incubation period, especially with marketing and communication strategies.

“I continue to receive support from SwitchMed, to raise the profile of my project, and to increase buy-in from stakeholders,” said El Khoudir.

El Khoudir is also keeping one eye on the past, whilst looking intently towards the future. The fate of M’Zab’s unique architectural culture may well be in his hands.

 

To learn more about Les Bâtisseurs Des Oasis, check out the website.

Les Bâtisseurs des Oasis Sustainable Housing & Construction
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