The golden age is undergoing a quiet revival at the edge of Egypt’s western desert thanks to the Taziry eco-lodge. So much more than just a holiday destination, this peaceful resort located roughly 752 km west of Cairo at the footstep of Siwa’s Red Mountain (Adrar Azugagh) runs a camel and Arabian horse-breeding program as well as an organic farm, and features a series of buildings constructed sustainably in accordance with ancient and recently neglected Siwan tradition. And that is just a small sample of the value they have already brought to the remarkable Siwa oasis.
In addition to constructing buildings using locally-sourced salty karshif soil formed into mud bricks and dried palm ceilings and wooden beams, Taziry, which means full moon in the local Amazighian dialect, relies on passive design and cross-ventilation instead of air-conditioning to keep buildings cool.
Lighting is comprised of no more than oil lamps and candles and there is no electricity (what a relief to unplug from the wired world), although in time the lodge hopes to install energy-generating solar panels that can also heat water for the small village.
Located 16km outside of downtown Siwa, the resort grows its own organic beef, poultry, fruit and vegetables, which are lovingly prepared in dishes served to guests, and they are developing a solid waste program in order to separate and treat organic and non-organic waste with a view towards recycling what they can.
But where does the golden age come in?
A golden revival
Not only have the Siwans, who are predominantly Berber, abandoned their natural construction methods in favor of so-called modern advancements, but globalization’s presence in this sleepy hamlet has disrupted their craft making and other arts.
To counteract this enormous loss, Taziry is establishing a center where astrology, calligraphy and poetry can enjoy a resurgence, along with a library containing indispensable knowledge.
Neither a regression nor a total progression, given the absence of some of the technology the “developed” world takes for granted, Taziry aims to preserve the region’s rich cultural heritage, enhance the standard of living, and create a heightened environmental awareness among a people who already live fairly close to the land.
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