The adobe brick and stone Igherm of Morocco.



This is an Igherm, a communal fortified granary, high in the Atlas Mountains in the Zawiya Ahansal region of Morocco. This one, some 400 years old, had fallen in to disrepair like many others in the region. Zawiya Ahansal is a vast range of plateaus, lush valleys and sheer cliffs where a rural community of villages once prospered along the Ahansal River.


Stone and adobe Igherm


They were blessed with fresh water, plentiful grazing lands, and a landscape easily defended against rival tribes. The region maintained its prosperity and independence for centuries. The highly decorated ighirmin (plural for Igherm) were built during this time but are now skeletons of the community's former prosperity. The Ighirmin, with ornate iron and wooden doors, are communally owned by the tribe providing every family in the village with a room to store grain.

Pictured right is how the Igherm looked in 2007 before it was restored to its former glory (as above). The building now stands like a crown above the village providing a library space and computer rooms for the community. The work has been a collaboration between the local community, the Atlas Cultural Foundation and the Moroccan Ministry of Culture.

  Preserving the Ingherm with traditional natural building methods  

Atlas Cultural Foundation Film


The Igherm in 2007 during restoration


Making adobe bricks


Too often, efforts at community development implement modern architectural styles or quick and cheap concrete ‘bunker’ architecture to house their projects. These aesthetics are new and often uncomfortable for people in traditional communities and can lead to abandoned efforts. Alternatively, a familiar and historical aesthetic builds pride as well as sustainable buildings.

The ighirmin are being restored using the exact same natural building techniques and materials used by the original builders that allowed these beautiful buildings to stand for over 400 years.