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Senegal and the challenge of bioclimatic construction

Senegal and the challenge of bioclimatic construction

a month ago | by: David Kodjani

The Pritzker Prize 2022 (one of the world's most prestigious architecture awards) has highlighted the eco-responsible buildings of the German-Burkinabe architect Diébédo Francis Kéré.

This architectural trend, which is still relatively confidential, is gaining more and more followers on the African continent. 

In Senegal, the construction sector is booming, and most buildings are made of concrete. But a new generation of entrepreneurs and architects is changing the rules. This is the case of the Worofila workshop, specialized in bioclimatic architecture.

This large mud brick house is one of the first projects of the Worofila firm, co-founded by architect Nzinga Bigué Mboup.

"The clients were very marked by references to traditional architecture, particularly in North Africa," the architect explained to our RFI colleagues. "In terms of plans, cross ventilation is something that was paramount for us. We put ourselves in the direction of the prevailing winds, so we have openings on each side of the rooms, and the compressed earth brick creates thermal inertia in the envelope, especially the exterior walls."

Read also - Diébédo Francis Kéré, First African Winner Of The Pritzker Prize

Elementerre is another reference company. It specializes in compressed earth bricks BTC. The company also produces insulating panels made of typha, an invasive plant. "Without having to spend energy, we can produce buildings that are very efficient and that are very sustainable," explains Doudou Dème, its director. "That's what we've always done, we're not innovating, we're just redoing what our ancestors had done using new technologies to go faster, to have a little bit more resistance."

While some think it's not a modern material, and others say concrete is the way to go, the demand is growing. 

The challenge for Nzinga Mboup and Doudou Dème is now to move up a gear: "It's a good start, but beyond the individual house, we need to move to a larger scale and really think about creating eco-responsible neighborhoods because beyond what a house can do, there are the sewers, we need to think about the vegetation as well," says the former.  

"We are in the phase where we need to work on training companies to apprehend these materials, and to build with these materials," continues the second. "We have a lack of qualified companies capable of meeting the demand."

A return to the earth as an alternative for the future.

Translated by Koboyo KANABIA