Library for 10,000 Moroccan Berbers

by Erickson Creative Group
Foundation restoration.
Foundation restoration.

Project Director, Cloe Medina Erickson, recently returned from Morocco after two busy and productive months on the Igherm Restoration and Library Project. The highlights of the trip included a visit from Salima Naji, a Moroccan architect and anthropologist who specializes in rammed earth architecture and the restoration of ighermen (Moroccan fortified granaries). She and her husband David Geoury, also an anthropologist, visited the project site during the first week of May and donated their invaluable time to perform a diagnosis of the structural integrity of the igherm. Salima found that the southwest corner of the building was the only area of extreme concern and in demand of immediate restoration. Of secondary concern was the foundation and the third area of concern was the roofs. During their visit the team: - established relationships with local craftsmen and laborers, - created budgets for the three areas of concern, - organized labor crews, including a team of three rammed earth master craftsmen from the neighboring village of Anergui to renovate the southwest corner. - wrote contracts assuring that throughout the project we will pay local wages ($6/day laborer, $9/day craftsmen). Renovations began the following week focusing on stabilization of the building and continued until the end of June. Throughout this time more progress was made than expected because the project’s limited funds were stretched by harvesting the majority of the construction materials (stone and earth) free of charge from the surrounding land. The following was accomplished: -complete foundation restoration on all facades -paving of the interior courtyard and entry with stone -extensive support buttressing of the southwest corner with large stone terraces -complete renovation of the southwest corner, including demolition and new rammed earth -initial façade renovation with new martoub (stucco made of lime, earth, and straw) Through a partnership with Montana State University, adjunct professor Bill Rea and seven university students spent six weeks working on the project in exchange for graduate and undergraduate credits from MSU’s School of Architecture. Their work focused on: - documentation of the building’s original system of rammed earth blocks - macro and micro circulation studies for the library - renderings of the stages of renovation - documentation on how the igherm can be used as an educational tool to locals and tourists - creation of a short film on the state of educational facilities in the region and a promotional film for future fundraising efforts - construction of a scale model of the igherm Cloe’s husband, Kristoffer Erickson, employed his knowledge of remote power systems gained as an expedition photographer and athlete for The North Face in the design and installation of the project’s solar electric system. The system was purchased with a $3000 grant from the TRA Fund, and will be used to power computers and cameras during the renovation phase until the opening of the library. At this time, it will be installed in its permanent role for lighting the book storage, reading/community room, and public computers. On May 27, two engineers from CERKAS, the Centre de Conservation et de Rehabilitation du Patrimoine Architectural des Zones Atlasiques et Subatlasiques, made the two day journey from their offices in Ouarzazate to visit the project. They performed a walk through providing advice on historically accurate structural rehabilitation methods and afterward gave their full approval of the project. Fall 2009 & Spring 2010 Work will resume in September and include the completion of the façade renovation and the collection and purchase of materials in preparation for work in the spring. Renovation of the building’s two roofs and six towers is planned to begin in April of 2010. This phase is funded in part by a 2,000 euro donation from the French association, Les Amis de Amezrai, and its local partner association, Amezrai SMNID. Fund raising efforts throughout this fall and winter will focus on raising another $2000 dollars needed for the roof and tower restoration as well as the funds needed, approximately $10,000, for the restoration of the interior of the building which will house the library.

Master earth builders rebuild southwest corner.
Master earth builders rebuild southwest corner.
Facade repair with martoub.
Facade repair with martoub.


Throughout the winter local project manager Youssef Jini worked with the Amzrai tribe to install running water on site. The water comes from a spring in the near by foothills; use was granted to us by the owner of the spring for the lifetime of the library. The water is important because it is necessary for mixing the earth during renovation. In addition, the locals built an access road to the building. This road will allow for easy transportation of stone used in foundation repair and wood for the ceilings and floors.

Project director, Cloe Medina Erickson, will arrive in Morocco April 28 and spend the next two months working on the beginning of the renovation. Seven American university students and two Moroccan students will work side by side with the locals for six weeks on the initial stages of the renovation. This program was made possible through a partnership with Montana State University. The team will work under the supervision of a master earth builder restorationist and master carpenter. The students will learn ancient earth building techniques.

Photos of the restoration work will be posted in July.

Please visit the project blog and website for more information:

Please visit the new project website and blog for the most up-to-date information and project status.

The most recent information added to the website is a copy of the As-Built Drawings from the Spring '08 Site Assessment Trip.

Enjoy and visit often!


Mustapha Jini stands in the Amzrai Igherm, the future home of hi
Mustapha Jini stands in the Amzrai Igherm, the future home of hi

Project Manager Cloe Medina Erickson and Architectural Consultant Todd Smith recently returned from an inspirational and productive visit to the project site in Zawiya Ahansal, Morocco. Cloe and Todd worked with local Project Manager Youssef Jini to accomplish the following goals: • Perform a full site and building assessment. • Document the building in drawings and photographs. • Finalize building and site ownership paperwork with the Moroccan government. • Finalize partnership and responsibility agreement with locals. • Prepare for utility installation and initial stages of construction. In addition, Cloe traveled to the capital city of Rabat for a meeting at the Moroccan National Library. The library has agreed to gift books to the project including books in Arabic and French and ranging in topic from school textbooks to adult. They have also agreed to help with importation of books from the United States and France, and to mentor the locals on the establishment of the library. Accomplishments to Date • Donation of property and building for the restoration & establishment of the library. • Project approval from locals - private, public and government. • Local volunteer labor force in place. • Book drive leaders in Morocco, France and the United States. • Detailed site and building assessments. Document to be completed June 2008. Summer/Fall 2008 Next Steps • Fund raising. • Utility installation on site. • Restoration design.

Project team on site in Morocco.
Project team on site in Morocco.


An article and video about the project region has just been posted to Saudi Aramco World Magazine's website. The article focuses on the growing impact and change which is occurring due to tourism and outside influence.



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Organization Information

Erickson Creative Group

Location: Livingston, MT - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Erickson Creative Group
Project Leader:
Cloe Medina Erickson
Project Developer/Manager
Livingston, MT United States

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