Balat Excavation Center
Balat, Egypt
The project comprises living, work space, and storage for the excavation team of the French Institute of Oriental Archaeology in the Dakhla Oasis in Egypt. The aims of the project were to utilise traditional building materials and techniques that require rudimentary building skills; and to construct a building that is well adapted to the arid climate. The 1400 sq.m excavation house is located in an oasis in the midst of virgin, sparsely vegetated land. The excavation house is constructed around a central, open courtyard. A standard domed chamber forms the basic unit that makes up each of the 4 building sections.

The main entrance opens to an entrance foyer and the central court. This west wing consists of four domed chambers which comprise the social centre of the complex: the reception room is surmounted by a large dome and leads to the reading room and the dining hall. The kitchen and bathroom facilities are vaulted chambers between the entry and social centre. The north wing is used for the storage of artifacts. It consists of three rows of 5 chambers; a central, access corridor serves the lateral rooms whose upper level forms a mezzanine overlooking the central corridor. The south wing is a row of seven domed chambers with vaulted extensions. These units serve as bedrooms for the excavation team; each bedroom has a private access to the court. The east wing contains four large domed workrooms and a smaller annex of two domed units on the north. The wing is connected on its north and south corners by open patios. A domed and arched gallery projects from this wing onto the courtyard.

The building has a sandstone foundation and is constructed of mud brick with a minimal amount of cement added to the mortar. The mud bricks were manufactured on site. The building is clay-plastered inside and out.

Source: Aga Khan Trust for Culture
Dakhla Oasis, Balat, Egypt
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Associated Collections
1,400 m²
Variant Names
Balat Excavation Center
Building Usages
private residence
Aga Khan Award for Architecture Shortlisted Project