Sheltered by Sand

Nabkhas are sand dunes which are formed around vegetation. This project began as an investigation into the process of nabkha formation and the mechanical stabilisation of the sand. This project used this structural strategy to create walls and building forms, utilising the solar sintering of sand.

The Moroccan town of Old M’Hamid, where this project is based, suffers from a shortage of water. Because of this, agriculture in the area has greatly reduced in recent decades. My project has addressed this through the establishment of a new farm using a technique called Permaculture which can succeed even in these arid conditions. From this, a factory for producing dried fruits is developed as well as a restaurant to serve the community. An office space is required to run the factory and a teaching space is created to teach the community Permaculture techniques.

Environmentally, this area of Morocco is extremely hot and dry. The covered streets of Old M’Hamid are the coolest place during the height of the summer. This built form is analysed and various techniques are distilled from this research. Through digital analysis, shading and sun exposure were investigated and combined to create an environmentally passively controlled building with no external envelope.

Two sections showing the proposal in context.


A diagram highlighting the shadows cast by the proposal.

Sitting in Shade

A series of images showing development of the wall design.

Wall Development

A perspective section showing the scale of the proposed buildings.

Work Section


Curated by Thomas Thwaites