“Hundred-year old cultures give birth to communities, being transmitted through rhymes of those who are narrating it and interpreting the past through wisdom. One’s accomplishments result from rituals and metamorphosis, bonding the human being to its own roots through dance, history, music, colours, flavours, materials and landscapes. Space and matter relate themselves to the power of rituals, drawing together the lines of an architecture charged with preserving history.”
The intervention area of the Sedhiou Cultural Center in Senegal by AMKNA Design Studio represents a breeding ground of centuries-old cultures, rich in rituals and experiences coming from father to son, and telling stories about Africa. Cultures here are mixed together in harmony, within an environment full of experiences. Some of those ethnic groups are deeply rooted in history and, since they never had any archives or written works, they passed those stories only through words coming from the elders.
The effects of globalization are reflected today in communities, putting ancient rituals and the preservation of cultural identities at risk. The town of Sedhiou has no places to let its own community spread its culture and habits, where everyone has the chance to relate and express themselves through arts. Hence the need to design a meeting place, promoting culture in a location at the heart of regional conflicts between 1980 and 2005.
The building will show this theme through a surprising and integrated design, developing a structure destined to be an icon for the entire country, without weighing on the surrounding environment. The architectural structure will require: three main areas for education, exhibitions and performances. Furthermore, offices and restrooms must be included;
- A call to economic intervention and sustainability;
- The need of dealing with subjects such as timing or relative problems linked to the structure development, to be set within an area where no specialized workforce exists. For the same reason, projects displaying care about developing time, self-construction and implementation aspects, will be encouraged;
- The preference of local and natural materials, being provided from surrounding areas and occasionally re-usage of waste products.
The designed area is located in the administrative center of Sedhiou. The city has among 22 000 habitants, against the 420 000 of the whole region, spread across different villages.
From 1980 to 2005, the region of Casamance, located in the extreme south of Senegal, passed through marks of a war whose tolls rise to more than 20 000 evacuees and 5 000 deaths. The Casamance river gives the same name to the entire region, cutting the administrative regions of Ziguinchor, Kolda and Sedhiou.
Different arboreal species grow in Sedhiou. Many trees are used in order to product building materials; Kahya Senegalensis, Kapok tree, Dimb tree, Palm and Fromager trees are some examples.
The water crisis is a largely silent crisis. Every year, some 3.4 million people die from diseases associated with inadequate water supply, sanitation and hygiene. These water and sanitation problems disproportionately affect women and children.
The design for the culture center evolved from a lengthy list of parameters including cost, climate, resource availability, and construction feasibility. The success of the project relied on both embracing and negating these constraints. In order to maximize results with the minimal resources available, a clay/mud hybrid construction was primarily used. Clay is abundantly available in the region, and is traditionally used in the construction of housing.
Bamboo can be utilized as a building material as for scaffolding, bridges and houses. Bamboo, like true wood, is a natural composite material with a high strength to weight ratio useful for structures.
Bamboo has a higher compressive strength than wood, brick or concrete and a tensile strength that rivals Steel cheap and sustainable construction method while nonetheless using that construction method “in new inventive ways, allowing the villagers to push traditions and give them a space to be proud of.”
As seen on Apsaidal