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El Ménéa, a modern sustainable city in a palm grove in the middle of the desert

The Algerian Government, aware of the rural exodus and noting the uncontrolled rise in slums in Algiers and Constantine, has launched several major operations to reduce precarious housing projects and work on plans for many new cities. A modern, sustainable city located in a palm grove in the middle of the desert that would address this critical problem of housing: this is the challenge taken on by Egis, which has finalised planning studies for the new city of El Ménéa, 270km south of Ghardaia.

Master plan de la Ville Nouvelle d'El Ménéa, Algérie

The choice of site for the new city came down to various favourable criteria, including its proximity to the administrative centre of the daïra and the RN-1 (trans-Sahara) motorway, its proximity to essential infrastructure (water, electricity, gas), the presence of local building materials on site, and the existence of a business park and an agricultural area nearby.  This city, which will extend over a plateau, fits perfectly into the urban development master plan of the old town of El Ménéa, by preserving the region’s palm grove and water table.

According to officials of the Wilaya province, construction of the new city will meet the pressing needs of a strong demand for housing as well as jobs for young people in the region.

Some 5000 to 6000 temporary and permanent jobs will be created in the building and public works sector as well as in services. Rehabilitation work for the ancient palm grove of El Ménéa and its irrigation system will also be undertaken to preserve the date palm culture and heritage of the region, whose position as a centre for tourism excellence will be strengthened further.

The challenge is to create a fertile, mobile and populated city on a relatively inhospitable site: a stony hamada, between sandy desert and oasis, where water management is crucial.
The city will benefit from sustainable contemporary buildings whose techniques are inspired by bioclimatic architecture adapted to desert environments. Between now and 2020, 10km north of the current El Ménéa and spread across almost 2500 acres, the new city is set to house all the amenities of a modern and environmentally friendly city, with a focus on tourism and agriculture.

Find out more (Architecture-Urbanisme.fr /french website  – 07/26/13)