The Dakar Exhibition centre is a psychedelic 70s baby, a building that perhaps represented a provoking, almost tickling and sparkling idea to the African foray of foreign architects at the time. This was an architectural building that purely and strikingly reveals the political factors that were affecting senegal at the time, and shows a clear depiction of the government's forge of character onwards into post independence period. The First President Léopold Sédar Senghor sort to use the centre as part of a wider cultural expression of his country’s independence and maligning architecture in the country to a somewhat aesthetic feel, a flamboyance he was known for. He was a man with great intellect and deep understanding for cultural art and architecture of the world (a fact compounded in his founding of the Négritude, movement meant to unite the poet-politicians of the time. The building asserts itself on the culture and identity of the country and has been said to always be seeking of a reclaim cultural authority from former colonial powers.
A subject of several publications in the past year on modernism and African symbols of power from a political note, the center doesn't try to be meek in an environment dominated by quiet man made endeavors. This far more seen through the way the triangular forms rise from the ground unapologetic and malignant.
It is perhaps good to acknowledge that the architects of the project, French architects Jean Francois Lamoureux and Jean-Louis Marin were perhaps the key ingredients in a building that sort to influence the direction in which West Africa would take.
This was a time when Africa was a playground of ideas, where the continent experienced a period of unprecedented development and aptitude. It was a time when every leader within the continent sort to make their new born country a giant, and the Dakar Exhibition center clearly attests to that.
The idea was to create forms that would pop from the ground, a sort of symbolic notion for the country now 16 years of age, almost completing the teen years and onto adulthood. The magnificent dramatic floor to ceiling perforated screens complement the external corrugated roofs and paths between buildings are adorned with breathtaking resolution of ramps and terrain difference that simply compels attention and experience.
There is an extreme affinity for pitch in this exhibition centre and the centre representing the most perfect typical example of a quality exhibition, a quintessential post colonial ambition towards modernity in African context.
From the Architects:
The complex comprises four main sections: the Senegal pavilion, functioning as the entry hall; seven regional pavilions, used for exhibitions; exposition halls surrounding the main pavilion; and, the congress center, which consists of the conference hall and offices.
A series of pedestrian walkways and ramps connect the various buildings. The complex is a combination of partially open and fully enclosed structures. The complex is a modern facility with design elements inspired by African traditions. It is definitely a strikingly modern and outward looking building.