A new public library in the Burkinabé village of Gando makes use of vernacular construction techniques, local materials, and local labor to bring literacy and opportunity to the hometown of its architect, Diébédo Francis Kéré. The library is composed of two main figures: the elliptical room for housing the books, and a rectangular court, shaded from the sun but open to the breeze, for reading and gathering. The walls of the library are built out of the area’s traditional and ubiquitous clay/packed-earth bricks. The roof shows the most elegant use of local materials, however, as it is composed of concrete poured between cut segments of local hand-made jugs, which leave circular apertures for brilliant sunlight to punctuate the space. Continue.
The rectangular space extending from the library was built with a concrete frame supported by regularly placed eucalyptus columns, a previously untested construction technique. The openness of the form allows air to circulate through the space, making it cool and inviting for gatherings away from the oppressive heat of the sun. This is the type of attention to local traditions and climatic conditions that Kéré is famous for.
Diébédo Francis Kéré was one of the few children from Gando able to attend primary school. He later gained a scholarship to study in Germany, and eventually gained admittance to the Technical University of Berlin to study architecture. While still a student, he began working toward a vision to transform Burkina Faso through education. The first step was the renowned school he designed in his hometown, of which the public library is an extension.
Gando residents cutting earthen jugs for the library’s roof
The school was the testing ground for Kéré’s innovative combination of local building techniques with contemporary architecture, and has changed the lives of many. The three-room school convinced the central government to hire teachers, and has opened up opportunities for Gando’s 2,500 residents, inspiring neighboring communities to build similar schools. The school complex won the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 2004, while the construction model has spread to other countries.
The Gando school has three classrooms separated by outdoor spaces for ventilation
The earth-brick roof is supported by rebar strung from concrete beams