Tabanlioglu Architects, a Turkish studio, creates projects in Africa with a distinct, Western flavour yet inspired by local geography and attitudes. Its International Conference Centre, located in Senegal’s capital Dakar, is a clear example of the practice’s design philosophy.
A mixture of mesh, glazing and metal, the conference centre is an aesthetic triumph. Its huge rectangular roof, complete with intricate patterning, drew from the expansive branches of native baobab trees. Baobabs feature heavily in local culture and customs. Underneath their leafy boughs, kings would be crowned, parleys and gatherings would take place and other vital social rituals would take place. The roof is to provide a similar function to the voluminous canopies of these culturally significant natural features; a shelter for vitally important meetings.
The centre makes full use of its design to keep attendees as comfortable as possible. A reflective pool under the shaded roof is not just easy on the eye, it also helps bring welcome breezes inside the centre to keep the interior temperature down. The semi-transparent metal that sheaths the blocks of the structure also help with climatic control, dispering the fierce Senegalese sun and creating a shady interior. The mesh of the structure was chosen to give a floaty feel to the design, an effect strengthened by the serene pool inside.
Tabanlioglu Architects won plaudits for its design of a centre in Equatorial Guinea in 2011 – and this addition to Dakar is another fine addition to Africa’s business meeting venues.