The city of Marrakesh has known an unprecedented tourist boom since the past decade. Hotels have tripled since 2000, and as a consequence, most of the city center started to gentrify. As a result of the rising property values in the city and the demand for accommodation facilities differing from the typical guesthouse or the urban international hotel, tourist developers started to invest in the periphery of the city. Those rural areas have already been deteriorated by the rapid urbanization of the fringes of Marrakesh along with the mechanization of agriculture, which heavily polluted the water table. The current tourist development which take the form of introverted large scale resorts, with large swimming pools, irrigated lawns and private golf courses, have contributed at weakening even more the rural landscape. Due to the destructive effects of such practices, the indigenous ecological system of this landscape, the palm grove, is undergoing a severe crisis. If a different approach is not taken for future developments, its existence is doomed.

This ecolodge project, for which we devised an ecological scheme based on a design by Archid, tackles the difficult challenge to insert a tourist facility, necessary to support the dwindling local economy, within such damaged context and its semi-arid climate. The project is timely as it is addressing the ongoing environmental crisis of Marrakesh’s palm groves and the governmental regulations currently implemented for its protection. In order to integrate itself within such a scarred environment while promoting the replenishing & strengthening of the local ecosystems, the project embraces an integrative approach, where the landscape is viewed as a living system, which performs on several levels. The central element of the ecolodge, a cleaning pond, echoes the nearby flora of the river basin, providing for a development framework for locals species, while at the same time cleaning grey water. The clean water is in turn sent back for use by the resort.

The architectural systems of the project are multi-performative: they limit the project’s footprint on its surrounding by using local labor and materials and construction techniques, and simultaneously engender energy conservation.

Finally, this project promotes a new system where tourist accommodations are directly involved with locals, beyond the usual employment and craft opportunities as several programs such as the garden and learning center are shared by both tourists and locals. With the growing demand emerging form western countries and the unique typology introduced, the project will appear as an attractive alternative. Thus, its model will embody a new typology which take into consideration the local climate, energy resources, building techniques, and the pressing environmental & social needs, all at the same level.


Team: Aziza Chaouni| Dan Brunn| Liat Margolis| Zaneta Hong | MS Archid