On September 2021, Lina Sefrioui Benzarou, Manale Adnane and Zaineb Baddouri, students in 5th, 4th and 3rd year in Architecture, won the People’s Choice Award of the international competition “The Oasis Cultural Center of Marrakech”, organized by UNI, one of the largest architecture and design competition platforms that aims to tackle real-world design challenges.
The competition’s challenge was to design a cultural center in Lalla Takerkoust that would combine the concept of an oasis and the cultural identity of Marrakech.
“We felt that we had the responsibility to stay true to our identity by representing our culture as humbly as we could. The Dam Upper Medina (DU.MEDINA) is a mix between an irrigation system inspired by the original oasis water system found in Morocco as well as a reinterpretation of the medina of Marrakesh.
Following the path of history, just like Marrakesh, the project takes its source from an irrigation system, as a reminder of the oasis concept. In reference to the existing dam of Lalla Takerkoust, a veil, the only concrete element, will act as the major water pump, in order to irrigate the green spaces of the project.
This hydraulic network is inspired by two ancestral systems (Khettara and Seguia) that exist in the south region of Morocco.
When it comes to architecture, it is the phenomenology of the space and the Genius Loci which we wanted to embrace. Many sequences were created by following the major features of the medina, in order to offer to the visitor a realistic immersion that reminds him of the experiences of being in its well known narrow alleys and places. The project goes from a decomposition of Jamaa El Fna, to a “multilevel medina” that combines architecture, water and vegetation, and where the five senses are stimulated”. Such were the approach and the intentions of the three students.