20. July 2015
On top of running her eponymous New York architecture studio, Toshiko Mori is a professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, where she formerly served as chair. Following a conversation with a friend at the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation she gave her GSD students a project for a mixed-use building in Senegal. A few years later one of those projects, by Jordan MacTavish, became Thread, a community center and artists' residency in Sinthian. Toshiko Mori Architects sent us some text and photos on the project that was completed in March 2015.
Situated in the remote community of Sinthian, Senegal, near the fragile border of Mali, this project offers multiple programs for the community, including gathering space, performance center, and residency for visiting artists. A collaboration with the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation and American Friends of Le Korsa, the cultural facility is intended to complement the existing clinics, kindergarten, and farming school on site. It is also meant to ensure stability and provide a common ground within a community consisting of twelve different tribes. The shared music, art, and performance programs are a testament to the resiliency of the region.
In the design, a parametric transformation of the traditional pitched roof is achieved through a process of inversion, inscribing a series of courtyards within the plan of the building and simultaneously creating shaded studio areas around the perimeter of the courtyard. The inversion of the roof also creates an effective strategy for the collection and storage of rainwater in cisterns. With a total footprint of 11,285 square feet, the project is capable of fulfilling substantial domestic and agricultural water needs for the community.
Relying exclusively on local materials and construction techniques, the building’s traditional structure is formed primarily of large bamboo members and compressed earth blocks. Climatic considerations figure prominently into the building’s form and specify the orientation of the studios and covered gallery areas. The building also offers ample shading of outdoor areas and considers wind orientation for ventilation. Climatic comfort is reinforced through multiple overhangs and spaced-brick walls that absorb heat and allow for airflow through the building interior. In addition to local material, project management will be undertaken by local villagers. The project offers an iconic shape in a landscape that is a vast, flat bush land.
Josef and Anni Albers Foundation
Toshiko Mori Architect
New York, NY USA
Schlaich Bergermann and Partner
Dr. Magueye Ba
11,285 sf footprint