Kaira Looro, Centro Culturale Sedhiou Senegal

Status: Mentioned


“Wisdom is like a baobab tree; no one individual can embrace it.” (Senegalese proverb)

Inspired by the words of this proverb and by what the baobab represents for the Senegalese people, the aim of this contest is to create a symbolic architecture, voted to preserve culture, respectful of the environment and local traditions. For the African peoples this sacred tree represents: a reference point for the orientation, the fulcrum of social life, a meeting place, the tree of initiations, of chatter and oaths, a shelter for men.

Based on this idea, our project, located in the center of the lot, is conceived as a babobab tree, an iconic symbol of Africa. It has a circular form, that reaches a height of 8 meters. The central area, fulcrum of the project, dedicated to exhibitions, is considered as a gathering place where the community meets to perform rituals and various spectacles, under the shade of a tree. Around this area, there are two semi-circular mirrored galleries, with a series of walls, that accentuates the contemplation of the exposed pieces. Via a circular path, we reach the area dedicated to the education, characterized by the presence of semi-circular sittings. The bureau and the restrooms are positioned at the two entrances, which are covered by colorful fabric awnings, that welcome and protect from the sun. The slightly inclined wooden roof helps collect rainwater in semi-circular tanks that surround the central area, provided with semi-circular wood benches. The total project surface is 250 m2, 95 m2 of which is indoor and 155 m2 is open space.

The selection of the building materials has been made carefully, preferring the local resources.   The main structure was created using a baboab framework and walls made from local clay bricks, with perforated sections, that encourage the natural ventilation of the interior. For the poles and the roof, we chose the baobab wood, due to its high properties, such as drought resistance and good density. In addition, the interwoven design of the wood emphasizes the effect of the tree bark and its texture allows light to filter and illuminate. As for the structural joint rings, we preferred the mangrove wood, for its flexibility and high workability. Fabrics are a creative and functional resource and, of course, the river sand, where the structure lies, has been the most natural choice.