• International Conference Center / CAAU Architects

Architects: CAAU Architects  
Location: Ouagadogogou,  Burkina Faso
Project Team: Thomas Coldefy, Bertrand Coldefy, Isabel Van Haute, Laurence Ployaert, Emmanuelle Maudens, Rodolphe Mazairat JVC Architecture, associate architect AIC, associate architect, local correspondent Atelier LD, Landscape architect
Photographer: CAAU Architects

Project Area: [17,780m2]

Project Year: [In Progress]

Project Cost: [11 149 269 500 FCFA]

Located on 10ha of a 213ha site in the Ouaga 2000 district, the International conference center project, complemented by an immense urban park, was launched by the Burkina Faso Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs through a design competition, and reflects the ambitious goals and extremely high standards that lie at its foundation. The site is bordered by the Ouaga 2000 development towards the North, South and East, and by the main road leading to LEO and the border with Ghana towards the West. The client requirement of a 3000seater conference facility that aims to provide a high-level international forum for government leaders and foreign partners, a relaxation area within the urban park, high standard architectural innovation, aesthetic appeal, harmony with the landscape, and adherence to the target cost led to the commissioning of the project to Coldefy & Associes Architectes Urbanistes (CAAU), through a design competition in 2009.

From the Project Architects:

‘Based on the relationship between a building’s scale and spatial qualities as an essential concept, the architect addressed the themes of bringing people together and serenity as the key behind harmonious relationships and constructive human dialogue. Natural elements, our relationship with time and traditional values are reassuring factors that mankind relates to when endeavoring to resolve existential or political quarrels. These factors are at the source of a universal quest in which architecture can be the driving force. Two major symbolic themes, water and the vernacular reference, inspired the architectural design of the conference centre, uniting, harmonizing and putting the various practical buildings in resonance with each other to create one logical unit.’

Inspired by the calabash, the pure volumes, with soft curves and circular elements, define the architecture of the CIGC. Water, with its spiritual and timeless base that links the constructions between them, makes the connections ethereal, enhancing harmonious relations.

Consisting of three main buildings: the conference hall and its related functions, the building that accommodates the banqueting room, and the “pavilion of personalities” building and the administrative offices for the whole complex assembled in a fourth “satellite” building, the volumes are made of pre-cast architectural concrete, either perforated or printed on its walls with multiple dual purpose circles, firstly for decoration, inspired by the traditional “calabash” and secondly to filter the sun on the second surface. The open space created between the two cavities of each building allows air to circulate naturally in order to keep the internal temperature of the centre cool.

The immense conference room is shielded by a large textile-membrane dome, creating a temperature buffer for the internal space and an aesthetically pleasing canopy on the external promenade, a prestigious walkway intended to lead heads of state and government officials to the complex. The juxtaposition of the convex shape with the concave elements express the centre’s quest for balance, which is at the same time open yet sheltered, eye-catching yet discreet, exposed yet intimate.


The fluidity generated by the curved surfaces is amplified in pathways that appear endless, while the different natural devices – the pool of water, the double walls of the volumes, the dome shaped roof element – bring a constant coolness to the site of the CIGC, thereby reducing air-conditioning consumption and resulting into a high standard architectural innovation that was intended by the contracting authority for the tropical savanna and highly ambitious country of Burkina Faso. 

  • Ouagadougou International Airport / ENIA Architects

  • The existing airport was built in the1960s and has almost certainly outgrown its capacity constraints. It is located in the center of the city, approximately 1.5km southeast of the main commercial area. The airport site itself is approximately 4.8km in length, 0.5km in width at its narrowest p...

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