As part of the GCI's Earthen Architecture Initiative, the Institute has been working with the Centre de Conservation et de Réhabilation du Patrimoine Architectural des zones atlasiques et subatlasiques (CERKAS) to preserve one of the most important sites in southern Morocco, Kasbah Taourirt in Ouarzazate. Since 2011 the GCI and CERKAS have been collaborating on development of a conservation and rehabilitation plan for the site, with the aim of creating a methodology for preserving and reusing this traditional ensemble as a model for the other three hundred kasbahs and four thousand ksour located across southern Morocco.
A large earthen village and oasis dating from the sixteenth century, Taourirt is strategically located at the intersection of major trans-Saharan trade routes that once brought spices, gold, and other goods across the Sahara from Timbuktou to the rich imperial cities of Morocco. Registered as a national monument, Kasbah Taourirt was originally one of the residences of the Glaoua family, which ruled the region during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It comprises different earthen-building types of high architectural, social, and historic significance, and it includes important features, such as wall paintings and decorated wooden ceilings.
In October 2014, the GCI team will return to Morocco for the sixth time. The work to be performed during this campaign will include finishing the architectural survey of the site in collaboration with the Carleton Immersive Media Studio (CIMS), continuing conservation work in conjunction with CERKAS and project consultants, and planning for the building's future management and use. This campaign will also include a workshop on earthen building materials for CERKAS personnel and development of a proposal for the conservation of the site's wall paintings.
The GCI is also working with CERKAS, the municipality of Ouarzazate, and various community groups to define policies for future uses of the site. During the October campaign, the project will bring together for the fourth time representatives of several governmental organizations and NGOs to discuss a common vision for Kasbah Taourirt's future.