Sibley, Magda and Sibley, Martin J.N. (2013) Hybrid Green Technologies for Retrofitting Heritage Buildings in North African Medinas: Combining Vernacular and High-tech Solutions for an Innovative Solar Powered Lighting System for Hammam Buildings. Energy Procedia, 42. pp. 718-725. ISSN 1876-6102

This paper details a newly developed prototype which combines three functions: day-lighting, solar powered LED lighting and natural ventilation for the public bathhouses (known as hammams) of the heritage cities of North Africa. The prototype was developed as a result of an extensive architectural survey of 67 surviving historic baths in North African cities, during which a common problem of poor natural lighting and ventilation as well as inadequate electric lighting was identified. Combining the vernacular element of hammam day-lighting with solar powered night-lighting, the prototype was developed between August 2012 and March 2013 as part of a research project funded by Manchester University. Tests have been carried out on the roof of two hammams located in Fez, Morocco: hammams Seffarine (currently being rehabilitated) and Moulay Idriss (functioning). Results show that the prototype dramatically improves the day-lighting qualities in the bathing spaces and provides for up to 8 hours of continuous night solar powered electric lighting. Positive feedback has been received from the users and the manager of hammam Moulay Idriss on demonstrating the prototype.

The paper argues that the combination of a vernacular element with an affordable high-tech solution results in an innovative hybrid system that is user friendly, and sensitive to heritage buildings. Such a solution can act as a “green catalyst” by its adoption in the 4000 traditional Moroccan hammams. As these hammams continue to provide a facility for the population living inside the medinas, the adoption of this design will not only contribute to reducing energy consumption and using renewable sources of energy but will also help to sustain a traditional social and cultural practice which has supported the health and well-being of the population for many centuries.

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