The ksar Tafilelt project in Ghardaïa is characterized by its ecological dimension and a very strong citizen involvement. In 2016, the project was awarded a prize in Marrakech at COP22, and also receive the national citizenship prize awarded by the Algerian presidency in 2018 which recognized how it demonstrates its support for all components of society: tribes, notables and associations.
This project is considered a pioneering experience in Algeria. It was designed to promote a better quality of life for its inhabitants by putting the concept of sustainable development into practice
|Dates of completion||1997 – 2015|
|Surface Area||22,5 hectares|
|Localization||South Algerian, City of Beni-Isgen, Ghardaïa, Algeria|
|Project Description||– Urban Renewal Project- 870 housing units|
– Services and shops: Artists’ gallery
– Public facilities: village hall, elementary school, two nurseries, a sports complex
– Public spaces: eco-park, playground, street library, symbolic ecological square, green belt around the Tafilelt ksar-Mosque
|Certification||The project was selected in the Green City Solution Awards competition organized by the Construction 21 network in 2014 and then awarded in Marrakech (COP22) in 2016 as a sustainable city.|
The site of the Tafilelt project is in Ghardaïa, located in the heart of the Algerian desert and in the middle of other ksours (fortified villages) that run along the M’zab valley. The latter has been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1982 and is described as an exceptional site by author A. Ravereau in his book “Le M’zab, une leçon d’architecture?”. Tafilelt is characterized by its bioclimatic architecture and its ecologically sound living environment. Its inhabitants have a real ecological awareness and a strong eco-citizen responsibility which further underlines the exemplary character of this city.
Like the ksar of Beni Isguen (heritage listing), the project integrates all the climatic comforts (interior brightness, warmth in winter and coolness in summer, etc.) and compliance with modern housing requirements. For the construction of this ecological city, local materials (stone, lime and palm wood) were used and the architecture is inspired by the old buildings of the ksours of M’zab.
In 1997, intellectuals, architects and scientists from the ksar of Beni Isguen became the instigators of the project, with the ambition to fight against the local housing crisis and to make it an environmentally friendly city: “At the time, it was a question of responding to the housing crisis and enabling middle managers to have access to decent housing…. “
A foundation called AMIDOUL was thus set up in 1997 to preserve the landscape and meet the expectations of the inhabitants.
The AMIDOUL foundation did not limit itself to housing the inhabitants, it also collected the opinions of the occupants on the quality of the housing and identified the improvements that needed to be included in the programmes of future constructions.
Selective sorting at source, wastewater treatment plant by phyto-purification, vegetalisation, use of eco-materials, low-energy public lighting powered by photovoltaic solar energy and resource recovery are all important ecological elements of Tafilelt project.
The protection of the environment is governed by a green charter that all inhabitants must sign before purchasing their property.
With regards to waste collection, this is the subject of particular attention as there is a requirement that waste be sorted at the source inside the houses :”We sort our waste at home, inside the houses. We separate plastics, paper and cardboard, fruit and vegetable peelings, bread, leftover couscous and put it in different bags before taking it out.”
The Tatfilet eco-park is also a beautiful illustration of the concepts of urban ecology and sustainable development. It includes an area dedicated to botanical plants and animals; a wastewater treatment plant; a children’s playground and a permanent exhibition area on eco-design with art objects made from recycled materials. The animal and plant park contribute to the improvement of the daily life of the inhabitants and is gradually becoming an important leisure area.
The eco-park is lit by photovoltaic solar panels, which demonstrate the foundation’s commitment to promoting renewable energies. In addition, a prototype house has been running on photovoltaic solar energy since 2011. It is intended to be a demonstration and example for the community while they wait for the necessary funds to retrofit the remaining houses with this technology.
The creation of a biological wastewater treatment system using plant-based macrophytes (phyto-purification) is also a way of preserving water resources and is part of a circular economy. Once recycled, this water is used to irrigate the eco-park, some areas of which are dedicated to urban agriculture (currently at the experimental stage).
Nurturing eco-citizenship is the strength of this eco-park development where residents are encouraged to live in harmony with the surrounding nature. Tafilelt ksar, is an eco-city in the Sahara which combines architecture, sustainable development, environmental preservation and quality of life.
Some initiatives could further strengthen Tafilelt’s exemplary features and allow for wider dissemination, such as: deployment of renewable energies in the residential building stock in order to reduce energy consumption and related costs (such as increasing photovoltaic lighting); strengthening of public transport and soft mobility; implementation of the principles of a circular economy by increasing selective sorting within households and expanding waste recovery.
Beyond the strict perimeter of the Tafilelt project, initiatives are also continuing that are in line with the ecological ambitions of the project’s promoters such as the installation of libraries and educational workshops to introduce young people to reading, ecology and eco-citizenship. In February 2019, a symbolic ecological garden plot was inaugurated.
The Tafilelt project instigators continue to be in search of innovative ideas to preserve and deploy the unique experience provided to residents of Tafilelt, which remain, to this day, to be exceptional in Algeria because of its special social, urban and ecological approaches.