IDOM, ‘New Lecture Room Block’, Alioune Diop University, Bambey, Senegal

In Senegal, shade and water are everything. This project, which was commissioned by the Ministry of Education and the World Bank, aims to respond to this context as a perfect machine, beautiful in its efficiency and without an engine.

The project was developed from its cross-section, providing the building with a large double roof and a great lattice on the south facade, an L-shaped shield lying on its back, which avoids direct solar radiation but is permeable to air. This shield creates a Venturi effect, generating a constant air flow between the building envelope and the lecture rooms, reducing the interior temperature by 10–15°C.

The building is simple in its construction, appropriate to the potential of the location: concrete blocks built on site covered with mortar and steel latticework; repetitive, with only one type of window; long and creating a visual reference, and hand-crafted – the manufacturing of the 20,000 blocks of the lattice provided employment for more than a hundred workers in Bambey for six months.

To solve the lack of sewage and rainwater networks problem, infiltration rafts with vegetation collect rainwater, like a natural meander that is integrated into the landscape, favouring the natural development conditions of native vegetation. A purification system by means of activated sludge allows the purification of waste waters, which, once purified, are discharged to the same rafts.

The waste water is purified, and rain water is collected and driven to a set of infiltration rafts. The system is 100% eco-friendly and an intermediate citronella grass garden was added to prevent the presence of malaria-bearing mosquitoes.

Unlike what happens in the other buildings, the big lecture rooms are completely open and obstruction-free and have both natural light and cross ventilation. There’s a great roof with a 10m projection to shelter the students who aren’t in class and a great length 4%-slope ramp, 1.80m wide, for complete accessibility.

The facade is made up of 20,000 in-situ handmade blocks, which provided employment to the local unskilled workforce.

Judges’ Comments

“The overall parameters that it was trying to achieve in terms of impact on the community, sustainability of construction and the way it deals with issues of waste.  Outstanding contribution”

“There is an elegance to the architecture which you don’t always see – through using local materials it has a certain elegance