Inspirational scheme by three students offers brighter future for Niafourang youths
This exquisite Youth Centre in Niafourang, Senegal by three architecture students is the culmination of ten weeks of dedicated planning and hard labour. Last autumn, the three students from Norges teknisk-naturvitenskapelige universitet in Trondheim, Norway approached non-profit organisation Friends of Niafourang in the hope of completing a much-needed Youth Centre for the underprivileged community in Senegal.
The need for this 250 sq m community-centered structure stems from a high unemployment rate and lack of job opportunities for the village’s young people. A large proportion of Niafourang’s youths leave the community in search of better prospects and steady employment leaving an aging community in their wake. At the heart of Friends of Niafourang’s mission is to improve conditions for these young adults and as such the new Youth Centre is comprised of a computer room/library and a larger multi-purpose space for seminars, performances and village meetings.
Project Niafourang’s architects explain their close working relationship with the community: “We became close with many of the locals that partook in building the Youth Center. For the first time we had the opportunity of being directly involved with the future users of the building. This made us very aware of the consequences of our design decisions in addition to making the work feel meaningful.”
During the ten week project, the three students designed and built the structure using only local materials and no electricity. A mutually beneficial relationship developed between the architects and Niafourang community as the two parties taught each other their skills in design and construction, leaving the students ‘inspired’ by their time in the village.
Compressed sand sourced from a nearby ditch formed the bricks used in construction, hand-pressed in a local machine and stacked with a little cement. A neighbouring village welded the steel brackets holding a corrugated aluminium roof in place, raised slightly to allow for natural ventilation and extended to create a second floor reached by an external ladder.
Every element of this design/build project is highly sustainable, from the incorporation of locally-produced building materials to the teaching of new skills to community members and development of an education space to allow the village’s youth to prosper. This modest scheme is not only inspiring to those involved.