Sustainable Design and Adapting Tourism Architecture in Jordan and Morocco

  • Michael Soncina
  • 18 April 2013

This article was published by our friends at The International Ecotourism Society, who have agreed to its republication here. View the original article on their Your Travel Choice blog.

It is interesting how globalization affects us. For example, how an idea comes to fruition in the USA, can be nurtured in Canada, and then achieved in the Middle East. While attending the 2012 Ecotourism and Sustainable Tourism Conference (ESTC), attendees were fortunate enough to listen to a fantastic panel discussion led by Muna Haddad, from the Baraka Consulting Agency, on conducting tourism in a crisis situation. She gave interesting examples of realities and perceptions of life in her home country of Jordan, and how communication channels like social media disrupt reality and create illusions that can have an enormous effect on a destination.

 Ain Nsissa Ecolodge

Ain Nsissa Ecolodge, Morocco. Photo courtesy of Aziza Chaouni

One particular subject that Muna focused on was sustainable tourism in Jordan and other Middle Eastern locations, especially in the realm of architecture. Interestingly, hotels in the region are often built with sustainable materials, such as LED lights and solar panels, and are made to co-exist with the dangerous sand dunes affecting the region so negatively. What was even more interesting was the proposed creation of mobile tents, designed to assist the Bedouin community to engage in sustainable tourism in Morocco.

 Mobile Tents in Morocco

Mobile tents in Morocco. Photo courtesy of Aziza Chaouni

The head architect of these innovations, Aziza Chaouni, is nothing short of a visionary. Working with Middle Eastern governments and NGOs, graduate students from Harvard Graduate School of Design are creating and designing an ecological tourism lab with students at the University of Toronto; she is laying out a blueprint for innovation in sustainable tourism.

 Aziza Chaouni

Aziza Chaouni. Photo courtesy of Aziza Chaouni

As a student of international development, I was impressed by her views on participation from the communities that her programs work with. Her programs allow students to look for opportunities and create capacity within the community. Through collaboration with the communities, the students are able to build solid projects that benefit from the understanding of local ministries.

Aid workers and those in the sustainable tourism industry forget how large a role the initial design process plays in any project. The materials we use, the way we interact with the environment, its long term use and sustainability for the community have as much to do with the success or failure of a project as the social and financial issues the industry seems to grapple with on a constant basis.

After talking with Chaouni, you gain a better understanding of how design is a necessary part of any project in the tourism sector. Not only because of its social and environmental implications, but the ability it has to bring communities together, encourage understanding and bring all sectors of tourism, non-profit and government to work together for the greater good.

I look forward to what I’m sure will be nothing but positive outcomes from these projects in Jordan and Morocco as they come to fruition. I am also very excited to see how Chaouni and her partners input here in Toronto as they work with Parks Canada to research the Rouge Park, Canada’s first Urban National Park.

 Rouge Park, Canada

Rouge Park, Canada. Photo courtesy Aziza Chaouni

If you are interested in learning more a about Chaouni and her projects, please follow the links below:

B.E.A.S.T (Bureau of Ecological Architecture and Systems of Tomorrow)
Designing Ecological Tourism at Daniels Faculty of Architecture

About the Author

Michael Soncina is a sustainable tourism enthusiast from Toronto, Canada, holding an Honors B.A in East Asian Studies from York University and a certificate in Marketing and Post Graduate Diploma in International Development from Humber College. He has lived in Singapore, WWOOFing and working with youth groups as a volunteer throughout Japan.

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The International Ecotourism Society

The International Ecotourism Society (TIES) is a non-profit association committed to promoting responsible tourism practices that benefit conservation and communities. Representing the voices of stakeholders from all corners of the world, TIES' global network supports and is supported by members from over 90 countries, who are leading the vital efforts to make travel and tourism more sustainable. Your Travel Choice Blog is an interactive platform supporting TIES' mission to engage, educate and inspire everyone to make travel choices that make a difference.
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Africa, architecture & landmarks, Canada, Jordan, Morocco, North America, Northern Africa, Northern America, opinion, responsible travel, whl.travel,

One Response to “Sustainable Design and Adapting Tourism Architecture in Jordan and Morocco”

  1. Jay B. says:

    Morocco is one of the most unique eco-tourism destinations I know (most beautiful ecolodges in the world!) You can connect with the locals in a really meaningful way here immersing in their lifestyle and traditions.. Great to hear that they are still trying to improve and seek new ways to conserve their natural and cultural heritage.

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