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Material Insights Vol.1

  • 20190419_gcs_0073

Sustainable Building in Hot Arid Climates

Featuring Article 25, architects of Operation Smile, Oujda, Morocco

For more in depth information about this project and vernacular building techniques in the region please book our Sustainable Building in Hot Arid climates CDP here

Leading humanitarian architecture charity, Article 25, teamed up with Operation Smile and Sto among other partners to design a sustainable clinic and permanent base in Oujda, Morocco for the charity Operation Smile. Operation Smile is an American charity which performs free cleft lip operations for children as well as dental treatment worldwide. Sto provided many of the needed building materials as well as training for local applicators.

“ We were all there with about half a dozen surgeons and 61 dentists from different countries and they treated more than 600 children in 2 days which was just terrific!” Bea Sennewald, Project architect, Article 25

Article 25 is an architectural charity based in London who is guided by article 25 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human rights, which states everyone has the right to adequate and dignified shelter. They have delivered over 90 projects in 34 countries so far, making them one of the most far reaching architectural NGPs in the world. Projects are delivered with in-country partners to ensure that local knowledge and relationships are maximized and that projects are sustainable even after their involvement has ended.

As part of their rigorous process, Article 25 conduct thorough research to determine what materials and skills are available in the local communities they work with. The outcome of this directly impacts the design decisions. As the aim is to create sustainable buildings with low maintenance requirements, another key element of the work is to take into consideration the local climate and weather conditions. In Oujda, which is located close to the Algerian boarder in the north east of Morocco the weather is hot and arid, resulting in extremely dry and hot summers and cold winters. This posed some challenges as the building needed to be both cool in summer and warm in winter without the use of heating or air-conditioning.


Climate and Weather Conditions

Winter months

In the winter months the sun is at a lower angle and the windows are positioned so that it will reach far into the interior warming up the space.


The insulated walls retain the heat inside the building radiating heat during the night and preventing it from cooling off.


Summer months

The building is organised around a courtyard mirroring the vernacular architecture of the region. This building's form functions as a natural air conditioner. Shading the interior, the courtyard keeps the air cool during the day and at night the warm air escapes through the open windows while the courtyard draws the cool night air in.


Exterior windows are shaded by little overhangs and greenery adds shade to the exterior walls exposed to the sun. Additionally the insulation that Sto provided slows down the warming of the walls.

“ One of the most effective advantages that Sto could offer was the external insulation and finish material that comes as a system that allowed us to put the insulation on the outside of the building which you can’t ordinarily do. This makes the building comfortable in the fairly extreme temperatures both in summer when it's extremely hot and in winter when it is quite cold” Bea Sennewald, Project Architect, Article 25

Interior Materials

Sto provided a range of materials for this project. As the clinic has high demands regarding hygiene and wellbeing Sto was the perfect partner to work with.

Sto Cretec flooring was used throughout the interior space. This is a high performing floor which can be easily cleaned and is suitable for high traffic areas often used in hospitals and garages. It is very durable which was important to reduce future maintenance.

More information about Sto Cretec Flooring

Sto Cretec flooring was used throughout the interior space.

Sto Silent Distance A2, board 100, top was used for the waiting area and the treatment rooms. As there are hundreds of people simultaneously attending the clinic, many of them children, it was important to create a calm environment. Likewise in the treatment rooms. As people come from far away rural places to attend treatment and it is all very new for them it was important to maintain a calming atmosphere throughout the building.

More information about StoSilent Acoustic Systems

“The acoustic panels are really good, beautifully detailed and they help with the sound that hundreds of children will create” Bea Sennewald, Project Architect, Article 25

Exterior Materials

Sto EPS insulation is lightweight and easy to use on site. No heavy tools are necessary and local crafts people where able to apply the material safely.

More information about Sto Facade Insulation Systems

Sto EPS can be attached to any substrate. It effectively insuates buildings from exterior heat as well as exterior cold.

Sto Signature Fine 30 was used to match a locally sourced stone for the interior courtyard. This render product is 100% cement free and highly durable which makes it perfect for high traffic areas.

More information about Customised Render Surfaces

For more in depth information about this project and vernacular building techniques in the region:
Book our CPD 'Sustainable Building in Hot Arid Climates'

StoSignature Fine 30 is available in more than 600 colors and comes in a variety of grain sizes.