The Centre for Earth Architecture is part of a series of developments the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) has carried out in Mopti. Others included the restoration of a dilapidated mosque and the construction of a new sewerage system for the town.
This beautiful mud-brick building is situated dramatically on the edge of a lake and aligned with the mosque in the rear. The waterfront was backfilled making it accessible to the public. The program required a building that would act as a multi-purpose civic center that would serve as the headquarters for the district of Komoguel while also hosting various other activities that would attract both visitors and local community to the area.
The complex is composed of three different blocks as required by the program. These locks are then united under two roofs. The building’s context consists mostly of simple earth-brick houses, with the restored mosque being a perfect example of vernacular Banco architecture. Consequently, the Center for Earth Architecture’s structure is appropriately simple and with its height corresponding to that of the neighbouring buildings. This also does not compromise the views of the mosque to the lake.
Load-bearing walls and barrel vaults of the Center are constructed using compressed stabilized earth blocks (BTCs) and are left bear with no plastering or painting, giving the building an earthy hue similar to that of the surrounding mud huts. The thick walls are also well suited to the regional climate, their large thermal mass ensuring that indoor temperatures always remain comfortable despite fluctuations in external temperatures.
For roofing, the architect employed corrugated iron sheets on steel trusses. The roofs have deep overhangs that shade the verandahs and shield walls from direct sunlight. The building is naturally ventilated through openings in the walls and vaults, eliminating the need for energy-consuming air-conditioning. Large louvered windows allow in ample sunlight, free flow of air across the building while and a panoramic view of the adjacent lake. Landscaping includes accessible public spaces punctuated with lawns and a promenade that runs along the flood barrier. Interior spaces have white walls, terrazzo floors and wooden ceilings. Interior décor is very minimalist and utilitarian with large uninterrupted spaces that are then partitioned for different activities.
Amidst the senseless construction of commercial urban projects in Bamako, a welcoming vision of nature and beauty stands at the entrance of the National Park. The renowned architect Diébédo Francis Kéré, Aga Khan Award for Architecture recipient in 2004, was commissioned to redevelop 8 existi...