Deep inside a village in Burkina Faso, the sun scorches the earth, dust flies into the air at will as strong winds ravage the calm. A brick library stands amidst all the forces of nature. It is a beautiful building and an amazing landscape to accompany it. Albert Faus, the architects of the project, envisioned a library that would be fully functional despite a stringent budget by the client, Katiou Foundation.
On a site that has tough climatic conditions with temperatures that sometimes go over 400, the challenge to build a sustainable library for the children in this village was daunting. The architects, knowing the financial and climatic restrictions responded with a unique volume. The library has it shelves pushed to the perimeter of the room to create enough space in the middle for tables and circulation. These shelves add up the wall thickness to ensure longer lagging times that enhance interior cooling.
The mix of load bearing walls, compressed-soil brick and pillars were all produced near the site by villagers who provided labour. The ceiling is an extension of the bricks which are stressed rebars embedded in the reinforced concrete beams. Rainwater is drained by the pitched roof which is also raised a notch from the exterior walls to prevent direct solar radiation. The space left between the ceiling and the pitched roof creates an alley that allows wind to breeze through further cooling the library’s interior. The central curved part of the roof is made of plastic corrugated plates as the straight parts feature galvanized corrugated plates.
With polycarbonate panels carried from a deconstruction project in Madrid, Spain, by Katiou foundation, the architects designed the window and skylight frameworks to fit with the dimensions of the brick. Running away from the unsustainable metallic frames with glass types of windows in this environment, the architects created openings that will enable the reuse of the polycarbonate panels.
The windows are translucent and insulating, preventing direct sunlight from getting into the library. Further, they have been placed along the North and South facades. The construction of the large operable skylights in the ceiling, as well as windows whose panels can be totally adjusted, the architects were able to achieve commendable day-lighting without putting the users at a risk of too much sunlight in the interior. Sunlight is filtered by the translucent plastic plates of the roof’s exterior before passing through polycarbonate panels and into the skylight.
The interiors are awash with day-lighting during the day, at night artificial light is turned on to help the pupils do their homework from school. The importance of this project to this village in Burkina Faso cannot be underestimated. The amount of thought that went into the design is commendable. How the brick integrates into the site’s natural look with interiors that are inter-played by openings and shelves creates an inspiring environment for young minds to enlighten themselves.