International Morocco interviewed two of the Inter House team members, Ilyass Mousannif and Katherine Schneider, a few minutes before a presentation they delivered about their winning design during Moonshot Morocco Youth Festival organized by the American Embassy in Morocco. Ilyass told International Morocco that his team managed to beat 17 other teams in the Smart Village competition, and Katherine said that a key feature of their design is harmonizing the Moroccan architecture and comfort with a modern design.
The Smart Village competition that came out of the Solar Decathlon Africa initiative brought together over a 1000 participants from 20 countries across the world in the city of Benguerir in central Morocco. The challenge these university and higher institutes were faced with was to construct houses that feature energy efficiency, modern architectures, and affordability.
The winning design, the Inter House, is a state-of-the-art house that blends all these features together in a architecture that is inspired from the traditional Moroccan Riad. This innovation carries huge prospects as it is affordable and its targeted public segment is middle-class Moroccans and expats that want to live in the suburbs of large cities.
The Inter House Team, constituted of students Colorado School of Mines, Cadi Ayyad University, and Ecole Nationale D’architecture de Marrakech, represents the inspired, talented, and creative youth that are individually motivated and collectively bear the concerns of environmental sustainability. Overseeing their progress were 4 professors from Cadi Ayyad University and 4 other from Colorado School of Mines.
The Inter House, Innovative, Modern, and Moroccan
The Inter House appeals to Moroccan and International residents alike as it incorporates modern, Moroccan and African characteristics in an exquisite intercultural architecture. It uses “interactive energy management systems, integrated control systems, and a unique interdependence on the environment,” which unified the team members around choosing the name Inter House for their creation.
In this vein, the building practices and materials that characterize African structures such as earth bricks are further developed and made durable. The resulting building material, called the Compressed Stabilized Earth Brick (CSEBs) represents the main material used in the structure of the Inter House. It is composed of local soil and lime cement at a proportion of 95% and 5%, respectively, giving the brick an African aesthetic quality and the ability withhold heavy loads. Other properties of this brick is that it is affordable and energy efficient.
The Moroccan character is represented in the juxtaposition of a private area with a courtyard for welcoming guests, right at the center of the house. The kitchen and and the living room are positioned to the southeast of the Inter House, whereas the private section of it is oriented to the northwest. The effect of this arrangement is a feel of spaciousness, and practically a typically Moroccan liaison with the outdoors.
As far as the modern aspect is concerned, the cutting-edge environmental control system in use allows “comfortable, conditioned, and fresh air” to fill the house while the levels of CO2 and VOC coming into the house as well as the temperature and humidity can be monitored thanks to built-in sensors that the dwellers can remotely control. This system is tailored for the climatic specificities that distinguish the area of Benguerir, and the central conditioning energy recovery ventilator (CERV) along with a minisplit gives further control over the heating and cooling in the living space throughout the whole year. In addition, the Inter Home contains a Home Automated Control System (HACS) interface that enables “homeowners can monitor sensor readings and control lighting, motorized window shades, and the entertainment for maximized and personalized comfort.”
Similarly, the Inter House involves a black water filtration system, the constructed wetland. Although this was merely a concept presented through the Solar Decathlon Africa competition, the Inter House team intends to develop a comprehensive system that allows the minimization of waste water and its reuse in landscaping and green wall irrigation.
Solar Decathlon Africa
This competition is the world’s largest student competition in the world and is part of an initiative Solar Decathlon Africa. The initiative is hosted under the patronage of His Majesty King Mohamed VI and consists of building a solar village that is made up of of smart, sustainable homes. It project came about as a result of a Memorandum of Understanding signed in 2016 between Morocco’s Ministry of Energy, Mines and Sustainable Development, IRESEN and the US Department of Energy.
Ezzoubeir Jabrane is a writer, teacher and entrepreneur. He holds a Master’s Degree in Linguistic and Literary Studies. He has written a number of journalistic, analytical and academic articles in different fields. He’s worked as a teacher of Academic English at Hassan II University in Casablanca and a teacher of English for Engineering in the National Higher School of Arts and Craft (ENSAM), in addition to a number of other private institutions. Ezzoubeir is a founding member of International Morocco and the founder of Exchange Lab, a language center that offers online English courses for individuals, companies and associations.