Preschool of Aknaibich

The preschool of Aknaibich in Morocco has only one classroom, nevertheless is a holistic architectural design, incorporating community dynamics, bioclimatics and a new vernacular style.

BC architects + MAMOTH, Preschool of Aknaibich
Aknaibich is a town 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.
In need of educational infrastructure, Goodplanet foundation presided by French photograher Yann-Arthus Bertrand aims to install a preschool with bioclimatic functioning, as an extension to the existing concrete school building in the modern part of town.
BC architects + MAMOTH, Preschool of Aknaibich
BC architects + MAMOTH, Preschool of Aknaibich, Morocco. Photo Frank Stabel
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 school infrastructure. It's style could be called a new vernacular, inspired on local typologies, materials and techniques, while at the same time having a contemporary look, performant bio-climatic functioning and earthquake proof design.
BC architects + MAMOTH, Preschool of Aknaibich, Morocco. Photo Frank Stabel
BC architects + MAMOTH, Preschool of Aknaibich, Morocco. Photo Frank Stabel
The preschool of Aknaibich has traditionally inclined foundations of locally sourced nature stone, with adobe walls, a wood-and-earth flat roof and rammed earth enclosure walls. The exterior finishing is done with a "tamelass" render, a mix of two 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 interior plaster which diffuses indirect sunlight. The east and west façades which have harsh low-sun impacts are doubled-up with a cavity wall for insulation, while the south facade has deep, small windows and a big thermal mass, making the building cool during the day, but warmer through the night until the morning. The north facade has been maximally opened up with glass doors to allow indirect sunlight to enter the room.
BC architects + MAMOTH, Preschool of Aknaibich, Morocco. Photo Frank Stabel
BC architects + MAMOTH, Preschool of Aknaibich, Morocco. Photo Frank Stabel
The classroom links to the playground just outside, which can be read as the playground for the smaller ones (3-6 years) as opposed to the bigger courtyard serving the rest of the school students. This playground has a pergola with playing and sitting infrastructure, which can be used as an external classroom for storytelling and other activities.
As a site implementation, the preschool borders the school plot, hence defining the site without the explicit use of compound walls. It is neatly located in between three existing argan trees, which are important to preserve in the quite deforestated new part of town. 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', maybe inspiring the way forward for future constructions within the community of Aknaibich.

Preschool of Aknaibich, Morocco
Client: Community of Aknaibich trough the Goodplanet Foundation
Architect: BC architects + MAMOTH
Local material consultancy: BC studies + MAMOTH
Community participation and organisation: BC studies, MAMOTH and the foundation Goodplanet
Cooperation: Frank Stabel, Thomas Joos, Alina Negru, Carole Fournier and Elisabetta Carnevale
Financial support: Private funds managed by the Goodplanet Foundation
Budget: 25,000 €
Area: 55mq building + 160mq landscaping
Completion: 2014

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