Cultural Preservation

Initiative Overview

The Atlas Cultural Foundation (ACF) preserves rural Morocco’s unique and threatened historic architecture, specifically in the region of Zawiya Ahansal. Despite Zawiya Ahansal’s remote location, it has one of the highest concentrations of historic architecture in rural Morocco with eight ighermin (traditional fortified granaries and/or saints’ houses) dating to between two and six hundred years old. All of the region’s historic structures are built with traditional rammed earth, decorative stacked stone and brick techniques.

This initiative not only preserves the region’s historic monuments but also provides locals with experience and training to continue working with traditional construction and restoration methods. All restoration work is done by locals, is to the standard of the Moroccan Ministry of Culture, and utilizes traditional tools, techniques and materials.

After restoration, ACF collaborates with property owners to find a viable use for the newly restored buildings – more often than not the use is the same as it has been for centuries. ACF has restored four historic structures and will begin the fifth restoration project in fall 2015.

In 2011, ACF’s founder, Cloe Medina Erickson, received written permission and a statement of partnership from the Moroccan Ministry of Culture to manage the restoration of the historic structures in the region of Zawiya Ahansal. ACF works in the villages of Aguddim, Amezray, Tighanimin and Taghia.

ACF believes that a country’s built heritage is a non-renewable resource and that its restoration is vital to balanced economic and cultural preservation and sustainable growth.

The village of Aguddim, the center of Zawiya Ahansal region. (Fall 2015)

Past and Current Projects

Ait Ben Mouh Igherm – Communal Fortified Granary

Ait Ben Hmad Igherm – Communal Fortified Granary

Ait Ookdim Igherm – Saint’s House

Ait Sidi Mouh Igherm – Saint’s House

Ait U Amahdar Igherm – Saint’s House

Ait Sidi Moulay Igherm – Saint’s House