The project consists of 19 housing units which were to be used as prototypes for the building of an additional 241 units. The construction works were initiated by a branch of the Algerian Ministry of the Interior, ERSAURE, whose task was to supervise urban development in the Sahara region. A General Plan for the M'zab Valley was submitted to the latter body by French architect André Ravéreau.
The project site is located to the east of Ghardaia in the M'zab valley, it can be reached by turning off the main road leading to the oasis of Ouargla. The constructions lie at the foot of a hill and enjoy scenic views over the historic town of Beni Isguen to the south and over palm orchards to the east. Although the area has been an Ibadite stronghold for the past 10 centuries, the present dwellings are partly occupied by people from northern Algeria.
These family housing units were designed for a population of low to medium income. The major priorities were identified as follows: · satisfactory response to climatic and cultural constraints; and · high density and low rise, in harmony with local building traditions.
All units include a ground floor with a bent entrance, two sitting rooms, a small bedroom and a toilet; an intermediate level houses the kitchen and the upper floor comprises a bedroom, bathroom, terrace with high parapet walls for privacy and in some instances an additional room is provided by an extension spanning over the street. Most units share three party walls and display few openings on the ramaining façade. Building height was not to exceed 7.60 m and windows were limited to 1 sq m. Further thermal protection was obtained by building a double exterior wall on the upper levels, with openings at the top and bottom allowing air circulation in the void.