Initially conceived to host an elementary school, the Sambou Toura Drame school building is likely to adapt to usage by different age groups according to evolving needs, as a vibrant place for the community to come together and prosper. The built form is a tribute to the Diola impluvium house, a remarkable vernacular dwelling of the Casamance region. The impluvium serves to harvest and store rainwater to make it available in times of scarcity. Within the context of the school, the impluvium also symbolizes knowledge as a vital resource for the students and their community and a medium for self-reliance.
The school’s impluvium unfolds around the existing tree, that with its large canopy provides shade and shelter from weather. The overhanging square roof extends out to cover four interconnected outdoor activity areas, each with inbuilt seats and fruit-bearing trees. These areas can also be used as informal outdoor classrooms.
A linear building along the entrance road, connected to the classrooms and library, hosts all ancillary activities: a kitchen and a canteen, two offices, the children’s and staff’s washrooms and a corral.
USE OF LOCAL MATERIALS AND CRAFTSMANSHIP
The use of locally available materials such as uncompressed stabilized mud blocks, laterite and wood will promote the involvement of local skilled and unskilled workers in the construction process. The construction will foster a sense of ownership of the school within the community working towards its completion.
The workers involved in the process shall be able to apply the acquired skills in other buildings as well.
CLIMATE RESPONSIVE ARCHITECTURE
Walls built with uncompressed stabilized earth blocks have high thermal inertia and hence maintain optimal temperature inside the building. They are suitable to the local climate with quite high temperatures throughout the year. Earthen walls must be protected from rains by means of stabilized mud plaster and generous roof overhangs.
The extensive use of masonry screens (laterite) enhances natural ventilation and lets diffused light inside the building.
Further, the roof is detached from the walls to enhance cross ventilation and let natural light filter inside.
The existing tree (Moraceae) is retained and smaller trees are planted in the outdoor sheltered areas to enhance the overall microclimate of the site.