Moon Building

Fiona Mckie Design, Siwa Oasis, 2018

 

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The Moon Building is located 5km to the west of Siwa Town on the edge of the Sahara Desert in Egypt.

The building is part of a small family-run date and olive farm and is an outbuilding comprising of a workshop, guest bedroom, bathroom and storeroom.

The extreme climate means the thermodynamics of the building are crucial. The external walls are built with kersheef, a traditional building material unique to this area of Egypt; it is an amalgam of rock salt, sand and mud. The thick kersheef walls suit the climate, giving coolness in the heat and warmth in the cold.

The curves of the Moon Building originated in my understanding of the fact that mud buildings, built in layers, prefer curves.The sandstone foundation walls are embedded in the desert sand and then built up above the ground. The voids between the walls are filled with sand and mud, creating a kind of raft, which supports the building.

The geometry of the building is two concentric curves organised from a central point with the subdividing perpendicular walls arranged on the radius, giving a sense of continuity and progression as you move through the spaces.

This formal geometry contrasts with the irregular flow of the undulating ceiling formed by the olive wood beams, which progresses and unfolds throughout. The building is orientated to maximise the benefits of the curves with the large north terrace opening up for northerly breezes and shade in the hot months; while the south terrace is held in the shorter concave curve, giving protection from the wind and warmth from the southern sun in the colder months.

The vaulted stairway follows the north curve round and up to the lime-plastered roof where the shape of the building and the vast horizontal landscape is revealed.

Data

  • Begun: May 2014
  • Completed: Mar 2018
  • Floor area: 93m2
  • Sector: Residential
  • Total cost: £24,768
  • Funding: Private
  • Tender date: Apr 2014
  • Procurement: Local labour, weekly agreement
  • Address: Shaheim, Siwa Oasis, Egypt

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