The town of Merzouga, located on the southern edge of Morocco, is home to some of the tallest and most impressive sand dunes in the Sahara Desert. Not long after the establishment of the first hotel in Merzouga, European and Arab tourists began flocking to the town; and mass tourism, with all its shortcomings, began to change the face of the area. Theme hotels were built on floodplains, un-sustainable water usage was rampant in the form of swimming pools, and intense motorized activities on the dunes began to challenge both the ecological integrality of the area and the character of the site itself. With a mandated sustainable program provided by the Design Ecological Toursim research platform, a studio at the Daniels School of Architecture, Landscape and Design, University of Toronto was required to creatively re-interpret the activities deemed “un-sustainable” in this context. In response, students Fadi Masoud and Matthew Spremulli worked with consultants Moha Errich, Neil Crafter and Scott Covell to re-imagine a new tourism occupation and accommodation for the extreme climatic environment. What they developed was an eco-lodge and a zero water golf course, dubbed The Dam Lodge. The project initiative is being sponsored by the Moroccan Ministry of Tourism.
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