Description by the architect, Raoul Vecchio:
The architecture surrounds the well to protect and give value to the water resource. The design is light and delicate, in strong relation with the natural context. Walls don’t create a closed space, but they include the context in the interior space. A system of wooden beams obtained with a local essence, is achieved by overlapping elements bolted to reach the necessary light (6 m). The beams aim to protect the internal space that becomes a place for socialising and meditation, but also to create an evocative play of shadows.
We want to reverse the image of the well, which is no longer the place to ‘take the water and go away’, but a space in which to stop and get to know the resource to enhance it. The well is not covered, because the filtering system is capable of eliminating any polluting element.
The flooring is covered by a mat normally used in prayer spaces or the intimate spaces of the houses. The installation of the mat has created a form of respect for the well space, which is therefore also used as a place of prayer. To accentuate this spiritual role on the floor, a slight sign has been created that indicates the direction of the Quibla, being the Muslim population.
A series of layers of natural materials delimit the structure at the floor, creating a hierarchy of spaces that lead to contemplation and reflection on what you are going to take: water. The architectural intent is the optimization and enhancement of the water resource.
The walls and wooden beams create a play of shadows on the well and in the studio that changes continuously throughout the day, just as the white color of the walls reflects the natural light of the sky. Architecture changes with the natural context, it is never the same.
Sambacounda is a small village located in the region of Sedhiou, Senegal, of around 900 inhabitants, close to Kegnimacounda and Boukarkounda villages. The area has few wells, dug with rural methods and not reaching the underground layer, emptying out rapidly. Furthermore, the salt-intrusion phenomenon causes acidification and contaminates the underground soil and layer resulting in contaminated and salted reservoirs. Children and older people are the most endangered with 60% of illnesses due to the contaminated water with a high risk for infections, giardasis and cholera.
The project aims to dig a modern reservoir reaching the underground layer to provide water at any time to Sambacounda and surrounding villages, equipped with a solar-supplied immersion pump and a desalination osmotic system decontamining and preventing from bacteria and viruses through UV ray, so
providing high quality water. That will be also a chance to put more responsibility on communities about hydrical resources and gather a local team for the maintenance of filtering system. We estimate to reach about 3 000 individuals coming from Sambacounda and surrounding villages. This system represents an
absolute technological innovation for the whole country of Senegal, an Humanitarian model aimed to promote water access, being that a primary resource for children’s life and wealth.
The well Balouo Salo represents a referring point for hydrical providing for its realization technology, considered the lack of water in existing wells and their evanescent building methods. Thanks to its depth of 17 metres (different from traditional ones of 5-7 m) the well reaches the underground layer where mostly flows waters with higher quality level due to the flow itself and not coming from stagnant ones. Layer’s presence is a primary feature in preventing water during dry season, differently form other wells reaching undergound deposits.
Water is extracted thanks to a 24 V lifting immersion pump supplied by two solar panels of 80 W each, adding to its abundance coming from the simple reach of the layer. The system will send water on cycles (calibrated on communities usage) through a decontamination programme organised with the folloqing sequence: UV sterilisation -> sand filter -> osmotic filter. The filter cleans any deposit, but most of all
from bacteria and viruses, desalining and providing high quality water. Once depurated, it is gathered and kept in two covered reservoirs in the shadow and prevented from alterations, being accessible at any time. Thanks to this programme communities and families will drink potable and safe water; pregnant women, older people and children in particular are the most affected subjects from viruses spreaded by old reservoir deposits. The reservoir is featured by architecturals elements underlining its Iconic character and valorising water matter, creating a social meeting point all around it.
Client: Balouo Salo and Tanaff Valley communities
Aim: Humanitarian aids
Location: Sambacounda village, Senegal
Date of construction: 2018
Architecture design: Raoul Vecchio Architect
Collaboration: Regional Office of the Hydraulical Ministry, Sorgiva