Nka Foundation Announces the Winners of the 5th Earth Architecture Competition for Senegal

5th Earth Architecture Competition: Designing a Rural Arts Center for Senegal

The 1st prize winning entry is COMMUNITY LIBRARY by Vitor Breder, Nayanne Guerra, Mário Soares and Yuka Perdigão Ogawa in Brazil; the 2nd prize goes to HYGIENE SPACE by Jérôme Gruwé in France; and the 3rd prize is awarded to COLLAGE by Britt Hill and Caitlin McDonnell in Australia. Honorable Mention is awarded to the following entries: 4th place NKA FORUM by Alberto Cumerlato and Tiago Sa in Portugal; 5th  place A CLASSROOM by Aida Zaremohazzabieh in Iran; 6th place TERANGA KITCHEN by Greg DiRienzo, Jordan Frazin, and Justin Pingin in USA, and 7th place CHAOS THEORY by Priyanka Ravi and Priyanka Ulaganathan in India.

The selection jury consists of Adrià Clapés i NICOLAU, director of IsArch in Spain; Adrian WELCH, architect and founder of E-architect in the UK; Juliet SAKYI-ANSAH, architect at a UK firm and director at The Architects’ Project; Jurriaan van STIGT, architect at LEVS Architecten, Amsterdam, the Netherlands; Podjamas CHAISURAPHAWAT, urban planner at Progress Consultant Co. Ltd and self-employed architect in Thailand; Sarah LAISNEY, architecture and planning adviser at Cuso International in Honduras; and Stephan Jörchel, a civil engineer with Dachverband Lehm e.V., the German Association on Building with Earth at Weimar in Germany. The jurors used judging criteria involving form, function and technical issues to evaluate all entries in the contest. The jurors awarded prizes for first, second and third place consisting of a commemorative certificate and the following options: 1st prize – $1,000 or construction of design in Senegal plus a trip to Senegal for a workshop to build the winning design; 2nd prize- Construction or $700 and 3rd prize- Construction or $400. Every design team that made the Top 40 Entries shortlist is offered the opportunity to build their design in Senegal in collaboration with the project organizers.

Through the 5th Earth Architecture Competition, Nka Foundation issued a challenge to professionals and students of architecture, design, urban planning and others from around the world. The challenge was to design a modern mud type to be built as a unit of an artisanal village, a residential vocational training center for unemployed rural youths of ages 16 to 25 years to undergo a 2-year skills development training in the vocational arts and design in the Diakounda village in Sédhiou Region of the Casamance in Senegal. The contestant was to design one of the following school types: a classroom, cafeteria, office building, dormitory, group toilet, dwelling type for the local teachers, and guest house type for our international visiting staff. The competition organizer wanted the designs to emphasize cost efficient construction and sustainable architecture by fully integrate earth architecture and passive solar design. In light of these, the competing teams were to design their school types for construction by maximum use of earth and local labor. Total cost of constructing the design entry was not to exceed $10,000 (USD) for materials and labor.

The competition promotes open source design, which implies that the submitted designs will be available for all to appreciate, use, or improve them to generate more practical and contemporary design solutions for the region. Our long-term goal is to enable the rural population and lots of other places, to overcome the stigma that mud architecture is architecture for the very poor.

What is next?

As the construction of the best design entries is our priority, every design team that made the Top 40 Entries shortlist is offered the opportunity to build their design in Senegal in collaboration with Nka Foundation. The construction site will be the Diakounda Arts Village in the Casamance in Senegal. The building workshops to realize the Top 40 Design Entries will run from February 2018 to July 2020. Each workshop will run for about 12 weeks. For example, the construction workshop to build the 2nd prize winning design, HYGIENE SPACE by Jérôme Gruwé in France, will be held from June 20th to September 20th 2018. To do these, we have begun to compile strategies and gather a community of supporters around the rural vocational arts school project. We approach the vocational school construction as a development-aid with a direct impact on the rural communities in Bounkiling in the Sédhiou Region of the Casamance. It is a community development project. By this, the design proposals will be built on a land donated to Nka Foundation by the community.

Through an open call for volunteers, each workshop will bring together professionals and students of architecture, landscape architecture, design, engineering, urban planning, the arts and others from around the world to join the workshop and play a part in line with their expertise. Join us to create change where it is most needed. The arts village will be a residential skills learning center of a self-sustaining type for replication in other parts of Africa.  The arts village is conceived as an informal school, an artisanal vocational development center that brings together international workshop participants, local artisans and less privileged youths from the region for skills transfer. The training will be provided by resident teachers and by hosting guest projects by both international and local practitioners in a self-growing school complex. That means, in the beginning there are just a few buildings. After the students have learnt some construction techniques, they will test their acquired knowledge and skills by building the next part of the school or some functional buildings for the community. Thus, the students are challenged to solve real problems, work together, to learn and build and create.

How do you learn to design what is buildable?

The building workshops will be posted online. Join us! We are inviting international volunteers to the workshops to help realize the above winning designs. The building site also welcomes guest projects from schools and organizations who find substance in what we are doing. Since 2010, Nka Foundation have been collaborating with architecture and design practitioners, and schools from around the world to enable their projects emanate from idea to reality based on site in rural Ghana, Tanzania and Gambia. To Nka Foundation, designing is not the whole thing. The design education question rather is: How do you learn to design what is buildable? It is by designing and building a project! Nka Foundation has come to know that by immersing the young designers in the full circle of designing and building their design, at the completion of the design-build process, the emerging professionals will learn to design what is buildable to make a well-rounded graduate. For the young professional, you will find the hands-on construction experience a pause from your office work to rediscover the rudiments of design and nuances that can refresh your practice.

The building workshop aims to foster collaborations for cross-fertilization of skills and knowledge among the international participants. Most evenings will be used for reviewing workshop progress along with informal discussions and digital presentations of portfolios by workshop leaders and participants. The workshop will end with a Community Day, a public celebration of the completed project by way of open house exhibition of the products of the workshop, public performances, and foods.

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Contact information

To participate, contact us at info@nkafoundation.org / www.nkafoundation.org

Good wishes
Barthosa Nkurumeh, PhD. Nka Project Director
Tel: +1 (405) 541 6855.
Skype Name: nkaprojects Twitter: twitter.com/NkaProjects
Project Web Site: www.nkafoundation.org / info@nkafoundation.org