Dubai-based Amkna Design Studio’s cultural centre in Senegal has been shortlisted for WAF 2018

Dubai-based firm Amkna Design Studio has been shortlisted for the 2018 World Architecture Festival (WAF) award for a cultural centre in Senegal.

Shortlisted under ‘Culture’ in the Future buildings category, the cultural centre acts as an intervention space that aims to create a platform for storytelling and historical ritual practices performed by minority groups  in Senegal, and which – with the growth of globalization – are increasingly getting lost due to a lack of allocated space and urbanisation.

The town of Sedhiou, in particular, have no dedicated space to express their culture and practices through various forms, including art. The cultural centre aims to provide one such space, that is also planned to become an “icon for the entire country, without weighing on the surrounding environment,” the architects explained.

The building will house three main areas for education, exhibitions, and performances, with a goal to get the community involved in building the project using natural and local materials.

The structure will also address the water crisis encountered in the area, where the death toll rises to 3.4 million due to an inadequate water supply.

“The design for the cultural centre evolved from a lengthy list of parameters including cost, climate, resource availability, and construction feasibility,” the architects said.

“The success of the project relied on both embracing and negating these constraints in order to maximise results with minimum resources available,” they said, adding that traditional construction methods for housing have been applied, using a clay/mud hybrid construction, which is abundant in the region.

The structure is also set to harvest and purify water using natural methods.

“The rain harvest plan is done in such a way that rain water gathered on roofs and other man-made surfaces are directed to a well, bore, or a water tank,” the architects said.

The team at Amkna Design Studio.

They added: “Rain water harvesting is the best system for areas that experience cross ventilation. Vents (cracks) placed on opposite sides of the building give natural breezes a pathway through the structure, which is the most effective form of wind ventilation.”

Other structural components include boards covered with steel sheets; bamboo; wooden beams; traditional plasters; as well as some landscaping that are set in what appear as ‘cracks’.

The architects explained that they chose to use affordable and sustainable construction methods and materials in “new and inventive ways, while allowing the villagers to push traditions and provide them a space they can be proud of”.

You can also see a list of MENA- based projects shortlisted for the 2018 WAF Awards. 

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