More than a room for books
The fact that Gando is now teaching 700 primary school students is a fantastic result achieved by the construction of the primary schools. But the Foundation wants to achieve more.
In a region where primary school students are usually the first one in their family to acquire an education, many do not have access to books at home. This is why the construction of a School Library was initiated in Gando to help support the growing number of students from Gando and the surrounding villages.
In addition to supporting the educational needs of the Gando’s children, the Library is also intended as a resource center for the entire village. The space is meant to unite traditional teaching methods between elders and children with the schools’ standardized learning environment. The Library provides a substantially improved environment for the transfer of knowledge.
The library building forms a physical connection between the Primary School and its extension, sheltering the school yard from the dusty eastern winds. Keeping with the same material palette as the surrounding buildings, the walls of the library are built with compressed earth blocks made with local clay. The geometry of the library is formally distinct from the others however, taking on more of an organic elliptical shape reminiscent of the traditional vernacular housing in the region.
The building will be equipped with simple furniture. Beside the bookshelves there will be some reading tables and a helpdesk. The literature provided will go from school books of all ages to national literature in Mooré and French as well as foreign-language books. In addition, the room will be equipped with 1-2 computers so that the community can learn how to handle simple word processing programs. The room will also be illuminated after sunset. Because of the housing conditions and extreme climate in Burkina Faso, it is almost impossible for children to learn outside the classroom. The library will then offer a welcoming study shelter, even after dark.
Tradition and modernity
Like our other buildings, the School Library combines tradition and modernity. Its ceiling uses widely-recognized handicraft: locally produced earthenware pots. Traditionally hand-built by the women of the village, the clay pots were sawed in half and then cast into the ceiling. These circular openings create a playful pattern and introduce natural light and passive ventilation inside the Library. An overhanging corrugated iron roof sits above this ceiling, protecting the interior and surrounding spaces from the sun and rain. The stack effect created by the hot metal surface draws cooler air in from the windows and out through the perforations in the ceiling, providing a passive cooling strategy without the use of electricity.
The use of eucalyptus wood
The façade around the library is made out of eucalyptus wood and creates a calm and open space in which pupils can both study and relax. In Burkina Faso, eucalyptus trees are generally used as firewood and thought of as weed as they provide very little shade and dry out the soils. This is why we decided to use them as a building material, a first in Gando, and replace the cleared eucalyptus trees with mango ones.