the (personal) story behind
Everything started in 2008, when Younes Rahmoun invited me to give a talk at the National Fine Arts Institut in Tetouan, INBA. After the talk a student came to show me his last project about the geography of the medina according to its inhabitants, which was very interesting. Two years later, that same student became an artist and he was looking for an architect who could help him on a project (rather a dream), to build an art school in a small place, near his city in Southern Morocco. He asked Younes if it was possible to meet me again, something we did during one of my trips from Lyon to Ceuta in January 2010. In order to explain me his idea-dream, he would have proposed me to come to his hometown, Guelmim, but he would have also understood if I did not want to come because it was too far from Ceuta. He did not know I have been waiting for years to have such a proposition to come to the desert (I never wanted to come with a travel agency or with an off-road cars convoy). I told him, "we can leave even tomorrow if you want".
One week later we left heading south, to the gate of the desert. Of course Younes Rahmoun joined us, he did not want to miss this opportunity too. For ten days we stayed in Guelmim and its surroundings (Tighmert, Tan-Tan...), discovering the history of the region, the architecture, the palm groves... Of course I was impressed by this new "world" I just started to find out, with its couleurs, lights, smells, the way people live, the social organisation... We also met some Mohamed's friends (Ahmed Dabah, Taki) and some culture authorities with whom we discussed about the state of the culture in the province, the potentialities an oasian space could offer to artists and architects, as a place to learn and create. We even made a draft with activities we could develop. However, after taking into consideration all the facts, we decided it was not yet the time for this kind of activities, we all needed more time, to develop our personal projects and to mature the idea of doing something in the desert.
In 2010, I started to teach at the National School of Architecture in Tetouan and once per year we went with the students to the desert (Tinjedad and Zagora), to learn and work on different subjects (rammed earth architecture, urban planning, heritage, local identities...). At the same time, we tried to enlarge our architecture students' way of thinking, proposing them a projet to be developed in collaboration with students from the National Fine Arts Institut in Tetouan (thanks to Younes Rahmoun). A collaboration we thought it could be an enriching experience based on our own one. It was called mAdinAlAb, an artistic itinerary in the medina of Tetouan. Even if it did not work as we expected (the King came and we could not instal the works), it was an interesting attempt to combien architecture and contemporary art in a cultural UNESCO World Heritage Site. Some of these students came later to Tighmert (Majda Mamad, Ramia Beladel, Rachid Ouhnni and Etayeb Nadef).
After three years teaching at the National School of Architecture in Tetouan, I quit the university in order to devote more time to my architecture office, but for me the most urgent matter, was to find an excuse to continue to come to the desert. That was the reason I started a series of workshops for art and architecture students in the desert (as a continuation of the idea started with mAdinAlAb). I called it at the beginning Warsha Sahara (desert workshop) and then, Marsad Drâa (The river Drâa observatory), what would be the embryo of Caravane Tighmert.