UNSCALE - Sahara Tzwigi Remt

UNSCALE - Sahara


Thursday 29 March – Thursday 19 April 2018

What are the tools for navigating the complex shifting of physical, technological and political conditions that shape today’s landscapes? Unscale is an investigation at the intersection of architectural practice and spatial theory that reconsiders the idea of learning. ‘New World’ discoveries have promoted a geographical view of the word where the modern rationality was to prevail. As a result, the act of learning became subject to a static model of space distinguished by the quantifiable properties of measure and scale. But highly unstable landscapes and harsh climates – such as desert and forest – challenge our sense of scale and distance. Continually retraced by physical as well as territorial shifts modulated by highly adaptable customary laws, such landscapes hardly conform to the kinds of ideal geographical spaces depicted by colonisation and modern territorial borders. 

We travel with Centre d’Etudes et de Recherches Entreprendre to the Sahara Desert, near the Algerian and Mauritanian borders to build a nomadic school while investigating a nomadic sense and use of space. Our route, south from Marrakech through the Anti-Atlas Mountains, traces the water of the Saharan West as a physical, spatial and legal system while crossing different desert landscapes. We then follow the ancient route of Lamtouni to Ghana marked by wells and dams to its intersection with the Drâa Valley and its many oases. The prehistoric Wad Noun River will lead us to another desert landscape at the southernmost end of Morroco, which harbours the seeds of the Laouberat eco-village. We will reach our site, Twizgi-Remt

Throughout the research project we will serve as spatial consultants for the building of a sustainable nomadic school in the nomadic enclave of Twizgi-remt, at the intersection of major Saharian trade and pastoralist routes to Ait Oussa, the largest nomadic confederation of the Saharan West and located in the Assa-Zag province.  We will live and work outdoors in contact with the physical medium, guided by local women and men, archaeologists and anthropologists. In place of solid foundations, the school begins with its water-system. The design of the water system will form the basis of both the physical and the pedagogical aspects of the school, and the system itself will function independently from the school development, adding a new water-point to the desert. By enabling pastoralist and agricultural activity in and around the oases, the new system puts the area’s nomadic way of learning into practice.

What’s next?

A subsequent edition of Unscale will traverse the inhabited and uninhabited forest area east of the Sea of Japan. There we will join the efforts of a new transdisciplinary school within Akita University of Art. Both projects are local pedagogical initiatives that have emerged out of a need to interrogate the globalisation of knowledge.


You can make an application by completing the online application found under ‘Links and Downloads’ on the AA Visiting School page. If you are not able to make an online application, email  visitingschool@aaschool.ac.uk for instructions to pay by bank transfer. 

A CV and a short bio is required. Once you complete the online application and make a full payment, you are registered to the programme. 

The deadline for applications is: 17 March 2018

Unscale Sahara is open to all students, researchers and professionals in architecture. It also welcomes participants in the fields of anthropology, archaeology, law, physical geography, visual art and curatorial practices.

All participants travelling from abroad are responsible for securing any visa required, and are advised to contact their home embassy early. After payment of fees, the AA School can provide a letter confirming participation in the workshop.

All participants are reponsible for their own insurance including travel and health insurance. All participants also need to ensure that any equipment and valuable items such as laptops are covered by their own insurance as the AA takes no responsibility for items lost or stolen.


The AA Visiting School requires a fee of £695 per participant, which includes a £60 Visiting membership fee.

Fees do not include flights or accommodation. However, a guest house is offered to participants free of charge by the municipality of Assa. Trips to and short stays in major cities, if scheduled, are not covered. Students need to bring their own laptops, digital equipment and model making tools. 

Programme Heads

Merce Rodrigo Garcia trained at the Bartlett School of Architecture and the Centre for Research Architecture, Goldsmiths. She is a PhD candidate in Cultural Studies at Birkbeck College and teaches history and theory at the AA. Merce initiated the practice OrnAmenT with artist/researcher Verina Gfader, and devised the research line of Unscale.

Hammadi Habadis is assistant professor of hermeneutics, pragmatics and anthropology at the Faculty of Letters and Human Sciences, Cadi Ayyad University-Marrakech. He is member of the laboratory for Philosophie et Patrimoine dans la Société du Savoir, FLSH-UCA of Marrakech, and of the Centre d’Études Sahariennes, Med V University-Rabat. He acted as advisor and supervisor for the Agence du Sud, CNDH and CESE on matters concerning Ḥassaniyya (al-biḍan) culture, language and society. He directs the ‘‘Centre d’Etudes et de Recherches ‘Entreprendre’’ CERE-Assa.


Programme Heads
Merce Rodrigo Garcia
Hammadi Habad

Visiting School Director

Christopher Pierce

T +44 20 7887 4014
F +44 20 7414 0782

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