The library building forms a joint between the first school building and the extension and thus shelters the schoolyard from dust-carrying easterly winds. The library will be open to everybody, not just pupils of the school. It will be a place for village elders to pass on knowledge and traditions down the generations. As in the school buildings, the main construction material is compressed earth blocks. The geometry of the building is however different; in contrast to the strictly rectangular school, the library has an elliptical shape.
The library’s ceiling is an innovative feature that makes good use of local technology. Clay pots, traditionally made by the women of the village, were brought to the site and cut, so as to be open at both the top and bottom. The pots were then cast into the concrete ceiling to create holes for light and ventilation. A rectangular corrugated iron roof sits above this ceiling and extends out beyond the library to create a separate shaded area for study or relaxation. As the metal roof heats up it draws the air from inside the library up and out through the holes in the roof, ensuring a comfortable rate of air circulation. The rectangular area around the library is enclosed by a facade of thin eucalyptus columns.
Eucalyptus is thought of as a weed in Burkina Faso; it dries out the soil and provides very little shade from the sun, so normally it is burned as The primary objective of this project was to design a sustainable building appropriate for the climatic conditions in this part of Africa. Laterite stone, which is abundant in this region, was chosen as the main building material. The building is oriented along an East-West axis and the roof has a substantial overhang in order to reduce the amount of sunlight received by the walls. The building consists of three classrooms, a computer room and office space. There is also a covered outdoor "conversation pit", of comparable size to a classroom. The students can sit here during break times.
Natural ventilation is achieved by means of slits in the suspended ceiling, the incline of the corrugated metal roof and the shuttered windows. This is a more sustainable solution than the often-copied western model of construction, for which artificial air-conditioning would be required in this part of the world. Diminishing fossil fuel resources and increasing energy prices mean that self-sufficiency is crucial, especially in a country like Burkina Faso, which is ranked in second to last place on the UN poverty list and has to meet its complete energy demand by means of import.
This entire project was carried out in cooperation with young people who were trained in previous projects sponsored by "Schulbausteine für Gando e.V". Through this working model, the local workforce gained not only a newfound appreciation of traditional building materials, but also further experience, training and education.
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