Situation in rural areas
In Burkina Faso, the housing situation for teachers in rural areas is a major problem. Due to quasi-inexistent suitable housing in those areas, teachers often refuse to leave their city households, making their journey to work longer. As a consequence they are not always able to hold classes on time, or at all.
The primary goal of the Teachers’ Houses project is to provide the primary schools teaching staff with a home in Gando. This home is meant to be as comfortable as city houses, while being adapted to the village’s life. Thanks to those houses, teachers are constantly present and classes are guaranteed on a daily basis, an innovation for rural areas in Africa.
Sustainability through architecture
The concept of the Teachers’ Houses is based on a basic module, which can be combined and built by the population as desired. Each module corresponds to the size of a traditional round hut and meets, depending on their combination, the needs of a family. The houses are arranged in a wide arc, evocating the traditional Burkinabé compound.
The ceilings are barrel vaults built with stabilized earth blocks. This construction method, previously unheard of in this region, makes use of local resources and is climatically efficient. The roof is a layer of reinforced concrete poured in situ into a permanent shuttering of compressed stabilized earth blocks. The alternating roof heights introduce a crescent-shaped opening between the overlaps, serving as a means to ventilate the interior and provide daylight. The culmination of the building work is the tamping of the clay floor to create a smooth, homogeneous surface.
Due to the massive clay walls and the roof construction, a pleasantly cool room climate prevails inside the houses. The people of the region call the teacher houses “fantastic iceboxes”- the highest praise for a house in Burkina Faso.
Like in other projects, the inhabitants of Gando were involved in all the important steps from the beginning, which was the key to the success of this project. The inhabitants not only gained new skills but also a sense of responsibility, awareness and sensitivity to both the traditional and the innovative aspects of building. The simplicity of the design and minimal use of bought materials means that it can easily be adopted by the village community, and further developed for their own homes.
AWARDS: BSI Swiss Architectural Award 2010