Baghere Village | Senegal
Women's House - "The Baobab"
The architecture of the Women’s house offers a notion of equality and power that is presented through the structural rhythm of the columns and their weightiness. The 12 habitable columns occupying the perimeter Women’s house, offer a utilitarian architecture that’s spatial and structural arrangement encloses the primary internal space, protecting from the environment outside its walls. The perceived heaviness of the walls suggests impenetrable strength yet are open to the elements with their clerestory openings, thus protecting from direct sunlight and sands blown in from the Western shores. The design of the columns are derived from research into the ancient Baobab trees, found in locations across Senegal and wider Africa.
The Baobab is also a symbol of the Senegalese people and an affirmation of the National Motto “one people, one goal, one faith” emblazoned on Senegalese heraldry. The architecture of the Women’s house is organised around a central courtyard space acts as the primary activity zone, a place for debate and discussion, arranged in plan, like a traditional theatre in-the-round. This harkens back to the history of the Baobab as key a location for political rallies and discussions, people would gather around the trees, as their large canopies would protect from direct sunlight. The Women’s house aims not to create a new space for discussion, but add a further, oriented toward questions of gender and equality.
“Knowledge is a light that is in man; it is the inheritance of all that the ancestors knew and sowed deep within us, just as the power of the baobab is contained in its seed.”
Tierno Bokar, Sage of Bandiagara
Date | 2021
Area | 200 sqm
Use | Educational - Cultural
Status | Conceptual Design Project
Team | Luke Murray, Piotr Smiechowicz. Yianna Moustaka