Inverted Utopia: Lost Things in the Sand

ARCH-401/402 Unit 5 – in/out crisis

Student: Penelope Vasques Hadjilyra

Crisis: Environmental/ Social
Terrain: Desertification/ Desert/ Dry
Program: Habitation/ Cultivation/ Library/ Mosque/ Follies


Project Description:
The small town of Araouane, Mali is a crossroads of the Sahara. Existing water wells and 200-year old ruins, buried in the sand for decades, inspire the proposal’s inverted vertical structures. By seeking to preserve the archaeological treasures of the village, “Inverted Utopia” creates a new living underground network that protects itself from catastrophic sandstorms. The project weaves together tea-houses, a library, communal rooms, provide spaces, within a complex underground labyrinth that provides new space for once lost historical artefacts. New technological advances in sand solidification are utilized to support the inverted vertical structures, connecting spaces and generating organic forms that transform the orthogonal existing structures into a unique playful and atmospheric environment. The structure grants water access to the inhabitants deep within the sand. This allows for underground gardening areas, with punctured light beams generating photosynthesis deep underground.