Client: Kaira Looro
Status: Competition (2016)
Location: Tanaf, Senegal
Coordinates: 12.652783, -15.426479
Climate: Hot, Tropical
Types: Cultural, Pavilion
Architecture and religion have always shared a strict relation, due to the need of creating a space for the divulgation of the precepts and for the support for the community.
Designing a building in a multi-faith environment gives you the chance to reflect on the mere meaning of religion itself, releasing it from all the architectural typologies usually linked to it.
That is why we proposed a neutral and powerful volume, a building that tries to provide a sense of community without the typical religious architecture elements. The complex is meant to be a fulcrum for Tanaf, suitable for every confessions according to the different rituals, throughout the different moments of the week.
Willing to create a place for the entire community, a place for hope and reflection, we exploited the intervention area providing a public plaza that relates directly to the city not only in terms of religion.
People will be attracted by the magnetic force of this element that will act as a proper landmark, affecting the area with its only presence.
The prayer space, the catalyst centre of the project, is elevated from the street level, enhancing the sense of ascent, through an access stair, and the verticality of the building itself. The height is also meant to facilitate the natural ventilation with the ‘chimney effect’: the air enter the building through some openings in the lower part and come out from the top.
During the rainy season, the part of the building below the spiritual space become a water tank for rainwater harvesting. The rain, coming from the opening on the roof, is naturally filtered and distributed to the people, clean and drinkable, through a fountain at the level of the plaza.
While the building symbolize the possible space sharing between different faiths, the public square is the medium for the exchange between religion and city, between religion and people. It is the place where it’s possible to meet each other, to take water as needed, to see public shows, to make a market, to propose assemblies, facilitated by the presence of a cavea. The gentle slope allows an easy access to the square and provide a sense of protection clearly delimitating the area.
Despite its ambitions, the building is designed considering sustainability and ease of construction. The thick walls required for the stability are composed by earth bags, using the earth from the excavation of the plaza, covered with mud and clay. Cement plaster is used to provide waterproofing, in particular in the interior of the water tank.
Horizontal elements are realized with palm wood trunk as beams and baobab wooden boards, and completed with mud and clay flooring.
The entire design process is strictly related to the place in terms of sustainability, from the beginning until the end of the construction, in order to create a solid building that will last in time with just a normal maintenance.