Preschool of Aknaibich
BC Architects - Morroco
Drawings, plans, elevations
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Aknaibich is a village in transition: the eastern old town is made of earthen constructions, sinusoid roads and narrow alleys, while the western part exists of modern, plot-based concrete houses built by rural-urban emigrants. Willing to bring the theme of climate change into the heart of local communities, Goodplanet foundation decided to install a preschool with bioclimatic functioning, as an extension to the existing concrete school building. The first step of the process was an immersion in the local culture in order to learn more about the surrounding constructions. After a workshop with the Aknaibich community, it was seen fit to be inspired by the old town, and hence to create a dialogue with the existing modern infrastructure. Inspired on local typologies, materials and techniques, while at the same time having a contemporary look, the preschool has also thermal and earthquake qualities. The preschool of Aknaibich is constructed out of unbaked earth like the old “kasbahs” and “ksars” in Morocco, and the adobe walls are built on inclined foundations of locally sourced nature stone. The roof is composed of small-sectioned wooden beams and woven matting, with relative heavy earth load on top to protect from zenithal sun. The exterior finishing is done with a “tamelass” render, a mix of 2 earths, straw and sand, while the interior finishing is made of polished “nouss-nouss”, a “half-half” of earth and gypsum to create a breathable plaster which diffuses indirect sunlight. The compact building orients itself towards the North with big glass doors for generous indirect sun light, while avoiding the harsh Moroccan sun. The South façade is pierced with deep small windows to avoid direct sunlight, while the south wall takes the sun all day and heats up, slowly radiating heat into the classroom when most needed – during the evening and night and subsequently resulting in a pleasant morning temperature. The east and west walls of the school are doubled without openings to insulate the inside space against low and strong east and west sun. The preschool is designed to have incorporated its own playground for the youngest ones, protected from the sun by a light pergola covered by ratan and wood. This playground has swings installed, thus the enclosure walls of rammed earth are perforated with small openings at kids’ eye level, and provide support for the playground infrastructure. The open space outside the classroom is conceived as a possible outdoor classroom, in the shadow of the pergola and with small sittings for the kids. As a site implementation, the preschool defines the site without the explicit use of compound walls, located in between three existing argan trees, which are important to preserve in a quite deforested area. By following the grid-like layout of the existing school rooms, the Preschool of Aknaibich creates an interesting juxtaposition of the “new vernacular” next to the “existing modern”. In a simple and pragmatic way, this design aims to respond to the needs and desires of local community.
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