Kéré Architecture Kéré Architecture

Teachers Housing, Gando, Burkina Faso

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The teachers' houses were designed to attract teachers out to the countryside, as well as to promote the use of earth as a sustainable and durable building material. The houses were realized as a series of adaptable modules, each of comparable size to the traditional round huts typically found in this region. Single modules can be combined in various ways into a larger composite whole. The simplicity of the design and minimal use of bought materials means that it can easily be adopted by the villagers. The six houses for teachers and their families are arranged in a wide arc to the south of the school complex. This curvilinear layout is not only beautiful but is also reminiscent of a traditional Burkinabé compound. The roofs are barrel vaults constructed from stabilized earth blocks. This construction method, previously unheard of in this region, makes use of local resources and is climatically efficient. To protect the building from rising damp, the 40cm thick adobe walls stand on a foundation of cast in-situ cement and granite stones. The villagers produced around 15,000 blocks, each 40x20x10cm, at a rate of between 600 and 1,000 a day.

A tie beam connecting the walls bears the roof load in each module. The roof is a layer of reinforced concrete poured in situ into a permanent shuttering of compressed stabilized earth blocks (CSEBs). The roof heights alternate between 100cm and 150cm, therefore when they overlap a sickle-shaped opening is formed and serves as a means of ventilating the interior and providing daylight. Generous roof overhangs protect the walls from moisture. In traditional Burkinabé houses, a special type of thin loam rendering – mixed with vegetable juice and cow dung – is applied to the outer walls as a protective layer of about 3cm against weathering. Unfortunately these components are of little use in the rainy season and attract termites which can eventually destroy the walls. In the teachers' housing, the traditional organic components of the rendering were replaced with bitumen. The culmination of the building work is the tamping of the clay floor to create a smooth, homogeneous surface. The enthusiastic involvement of the people of Gando was the key to the success of this project. The villagers gained not only new skills but also a sense of responsibility, awareness and sensitivity to both the traditional and the innovative aspects of building.

completion year: 2004
gross floor area: 930m²
client: village community Gando