The Alioune Diop University of Bambey, Senegal, won the prestigious Aga Khan Award for Architecture. Jurors were impressed with how the university’s architects coped with environmental challenges while remaining sensitive to sustainability issues. The university was awarded a hefty prize of a million USD at the ceremony held in Kazan, Russia.
“This victory can have a great impact in Senegal and Africa because the building was created by the environment – by taking the temperature of certain local realities, etc. – it is a great one that can have a great impact on Senegal and Africa and can be replicated everywhere,“said Ibrahim Wone, chief of cabinet, ministry of higher education.
The university has a bioclimatic design. The structure of its newer building is inspired by a large tree in the compound. Like the tree, the building was “intended to offer shelter, shade, and freshness for students”. This building holds a 500-seat lecture hall, five 50-student classrooms, eight 100-student classrooms, three laboratories, ten lecturers’ offices and two meeting rooms.
The interior of the building remains comfortable cool without the use of air conditioning. This is allowed by strategies such as the large double roof canopy which allows air to circulate, the cantilevered roof provides shade along the south side of the building, and the locally-sourced, air-permeable bricks which form a latticework, filtering sunlight while allowing airflow.
Other impressive strategies include an infiltration reservoir on one side which collects water. This prevents the building from flooding. Additionally, it allows plants to grow on rafts. Some of the plants cultivated include citronella, which is meant to minimize mosquitos near the building. Wastewater filters through a system using activated sludge.
This new building was built by the IDOM firm in Spain.
The university was formed as part of government efforts to decentralize education. Most students flock to Dakar to pursue higher education, but now they have options like Bambey.
The Aga Khan architecture award is given once every three years.