SANGUIS ET PULVIS

 

Sanguis et Pulvis seeks to reestablish the dissipating autonomy of the Siwa Oasis in Egypt’s Western Desert. Throughout its history this Berber settlement has remained isolated and self sufficient; its
traditional economy based on agriculture, its vernacular based on mud brick construction. However,two environmental phenomena have jeopardised this ancient way of life. Firstly, the encroaching sands of the Sahara have significantly reduced the farmable land surrounding Siwa. This has forced the town to focus its economy increasingly on the unreliable and highly seasonal tourism industry. This has greatly eroded the town’s economic and agricultural self sufficiency. Secondly, a series of rare rainstorms in the 1920s and 1930s caused great damage to the town’s historic centre, effectively melting the salt rich mud bricks. This destroyed faith in the material on which the town’s vernacular was based despite thousands of years of reliance on it. Since then, the town’s development has been almost entirely in concrete, reducing traditional structures to touristic novelties. The project addresses these issues in three ways: it creates a new local construction material based on the abundant waste blood produced by halal abattoirs, it creates a new economic base through the low-tech generation of solar electricity, and it enables large scale agricultural land reclamation by forming a protective barrier against the Sahara.

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