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Salima Naji’s Preservation of Sacred Moroccan Granary Sites Nominated for Aga Khan Award
Serving the Moroccan Ministry of the Interior, Salima Naji has ambitiously untaken the restoration of two Agadir of Amtoudi, the rehabilitation of Qsar Assa, and the rescue of collective parts of Agadir Ouzrou. This network of fortressed granary sites in Southern Morocco has fallen into decay with the decline of traditional Berber architecture. The spread of modern standardized architecture from the north has made vernacular building methods obsolete, discarding the religious inheritance and communal identity of the region. In a participatory process that is reinvigorating the sacred and collective oasis sites, Naji’s work provides an alternative model for conservation in Morocco.
Through the use of local masons and unskilled workman whom she has trained, Naji fosters a relationship between the community and the historic built environment. Her projects extend beyond simple restoration to include the creation of new, communal spaces such as village squares, public walkways, and outdoor theatres. The revived fortified granaries transform into venues for poetry contests, feasts, and traditional Berber song and dance performances. The inclusion of both new and traditional community groups in the process of conservation gives a modern cultural relevancy to the formerly abandoned sites. Salima Naji teaches us that the act of conserving architecture and civic space on the basis of heritage preservation is sustainability at its best.
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