Planting a new neighbourhood

Nick Myall
Monday 09 Jan 2017

An olive grove in Tunisia is to be transformed into a collective housing project that preserves the natural surroundings

Designed by the Philippe Barrière Collective, this semi-rural/semi-urban alternative development of 30ha re-envisions an olive grove as a habitable park. It is located in the governorate of Manouba on a hill near the Medjerda River on the south western edge of Jedeida city limits in Tunisia. Its eco-friendly planning design preserves and utilises an existing olive grove estate, by placing small individual pavilions for collective housing and service facilities within its 4,475 existing salvaged olive trees and by planting tall sized trees plus a wild botanical garden for more local bio-diversity.

The overall urban planning is located around a green common which connects services and housing pavilions within the same network without the need of using roads. The rural park enables trees and nature to flow freely towards a communal park, or “commons”. This is surrounded by amenities in an organic relation which transforms the existing olive grove into a habitable park. This rural Agora includes housing (3200 units), administrative and health facilities, a cultural centre, an elementary school, retailing, a sports area, a mosque, bus and taxi hub.

This habitable park offers an alternative solution to nearby urban growth. It establishes new strategic relations between man, nature and culture that are rarely addressed in green neighbourhoods but are necessary to develop if we want to create a sustainable environment. 

The park creates a local micro-climate fostered by the existing orchard and by introducing biodiversity enabling it to become a green reserve. The small sized housing pavilions are designed to fit within the existing grid of olive trees and to allow for spaces in between them. Service roads and parking are at the periphery of the park, but within reach to have direct access to buildings.  

This hybrid architecture housing project is based on bio-climatic principles which create a more sustainable environment.

The bio-climatic principles employed include:

  • Passive solar energy (deep loggias, roof protection …etc.)
  • Individual responses to specific solar orientation. 
  • Modular solar protection (movable moucharaby, curtains ... etc.)
  • Cross ventilation in every room
  • Vertical chimney ventilation allowing fresh air intake 
  • Innovative rhino VAULt technology used for the design of roof top cafés built with local materials

They also function as solar protection for the entire building.

Source V2com

Nick Myall

News editor

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