Archiprix 2013 Nominee: Anna Allis

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A sustainable airport in the Algerian dessert

Recent graduate Anna Allis from the Amsterdam based Academy of Architecture finished her degree with the project ‘Sous le Sable: Souvenir of a Mirage.’ It is the story of an imaginary airport city in the Algerian Sahara, working as a catalyst upon its surroundings.

‘Sous le Sable: Souvenir of a Mirage.’ is all about a book which archeologists will find in the distant year 2214. Full of images and sketches it tells the story of an imaginary city. Fiction and actual historical elements intertwine in a fascinating document.

The imaginary retrospective focuses on an a sustainable airport. Make-shift in character it is not tied to one place in particular. It is moveable and is designed to attract sustainable business along its landing strips. Another exceptional feature of the airport is that it can generate water.

Other than the effects on it surroundings, the airport itself leaves no traces. Yet it does have a positive effect on employment and also generates ecotourism. At the same time it counters the effects of silting up and has a stabilizing influence on both the environment and the economy. In all it reintroduces the nomadic principles that once were elementary to Algerian dessert life. The book also relates how water shortages are dealt with and biodiversity is enhanced. In all the airport embraces its surroundings rather than it overrules them, creating room for inventiveness and coherence.

The airport is a catalyst to its environment, offering not alienation but a viable trail to help overcome the vulnerability of the Algerian dessert. There is no defining end to this development other than to realize a temporary direction. Both the airport and the trail it leaves behind are temporary, sustainable and may again easily disappear underneath the sand - Sous le Sable.  

‘A sustainable temporary airport city, different from its predecessors which were energy consuming machines taking in ever more energy, more space, more commerce, more buildings, more traffic, more people. Back then, all was directed towards the permanence and ever increasing needs of the airport.‘   
Dutch design schools annually nominate their best graduation projects to participate in the prestigious Archiprix. New talents often step into the limelight during its presentation, this year taking place in the Netherlands Architecture Institute (NAi) in Rotterdam in June 2013. Year of 2012 shows all graduates.