The project Base De Vie in the Red Desert, Adrar, Algeria by Ar. Alfonso Femia / Atelier(s) Alfonso Femia with Francesco Nissardi proposes a “water chain” capable of managing, collecting and channelling the water system in its different uses in order to create a dynamic and optimised system. The depth of the basins and connecting channels will be sized to support the phenomena of evaporation when useful to control the microclimate while, in the sections where this will not be necessary, the system will be designed to reduce waste and minimise maintenance. Furthermore, in the spaces where evaporation helps with cooling the environment, the ponds will be sized so as to control the phenomenon and will be protected by pergolas that are a theme of the project. The connecting channels are partly exposed (fissures) and partly “closed”, in such a way as to cool the water that flows there for short stretches.
- How to design and build a specific town, in an exceptional location, according to unique rules?
- How, through replying to a programme, can we put man at the centre, the quality of his life via some extraordinary working conditions, rhythms, identity?
- How to create a project capable of entering into a dialogue with the land, its context, history and the way in which the place is used?
- How to avoid answering all of these questions without looking long and hard at the specific forms that belong to Saharan towns.
First act: reason. A pragmatic act
The pragmatic act is made up of all of the intangible components of the project: surfaces, quantities, flux, functionality in answer to restrictions. It is the guide we must follow in order to invent the project, anchored by its usage, to the people that will live there.
Second act: sentiment. A poetic act
For us sentiment is not opposed to reason, it enriches it and ensures the exactitude of its thinking. Sentiment was the starting point for fi nding the location, the history surrounding it, the ways of living in a unique and specifi c context, of how we can protect it through a dialogue that begins with nature, that does not oppose it but seeks to control it and become a marvellous and beautiful reply (oasis, dunes, the material of the walls).
Third act: time. A soulful act
Time is the theme of the soul, sometimes imperceptible but one which nevertheless always impregnates the building with its presence. Time marks the location. Nature marks time, through the natural “columns” that we see as the first founding act, capable of protection from the northerly wind (palm trees, eucalyptus, pines, …), of creating an ecosystem that protects and renders the different spaces liveable and which in time will represent the true density of life’s foundation, the real structure with a heart and life at its centre.
- project: Base De Vie in the Red Desert
- location: Adrar, Algeria
- client: Bonatti spa
- architect: Alfonso Femia / Atelier(s) Alfonso Femia with Francesco Nissardi
- total area: 2,50,000-sq.m
- floor area: 22,400-sq.m
- year of completion: 2014
- program: Creation of a city for 1,000 inhabitants in the Algerian desert
- photographs: Alfonso Femia with Francesco Nissardi