TAMassociati: the H2OS pilot eco-village in Senegal


Studio TAMassociati, which designed the Italian Pavilion at the 2016 Venice Biennale, has completed the first building in the H2OS eco-village in Keur Bakar, Senegal. The team’s eco-village is a prototype for community living based on energy self-sufficiency.

TAMassociati: the H2OS pilot eco-village in Senegal
H2OS, the prototype eco-village in Keur Bakar Diahité, 200 km south of Dakar, was designed by a local and international multidisciplinary team led by Italian architects TAMassociati. May 2017 saw the launch of the eco-house, the eco-village’s first building which will be used as a community centre, craft workshop and dedicated teaching and study space. Conceived as the new heart of the community, it is a model for the housing and service units which will make up the eco-village, all of them self-sufficient in terms of energy and water use.
The village in Keur Bakar Diahité lies in Senegal’s Fatik region near the Sine Saloum nature reserve. The area has no electricity, water, school or health services, and these living conditions are shared by the inhabitants of many villages in the immense Sahel region, extending southwards from the desert to the Atlantic coasts of Mauritania and Senegal all the way to the Red Sea and northern Eritrea. H2OS is a solution to the most serious problem afflicting the area – unrelenting desertification. With architecture as its focus, it draws on the community’s technical and management skills and its agricultural self-sufficiency. The eco-house itself is built from unfired clay bricks made by the community using traditional techniques. It has been made energy self-sufficient using the principles of eco-architecture. The butterfly roof harvests rainwater which is collected, filtered and reused for the sanitation systems; natural ventilation replaces mechanical systems, with the air cooled by channelling it through a tank of cold water and energy produced by a photovoltaic circuit; shading in the form of bamboo screens provides natural protection from the heat and dust. Plant design is handled by a team of specialised technicians, while the eco-systems mentioned above are based on artisan techniques which are passed on to the local workforce. In keeping with local tradition, the women look after the organic community vegetable garden which is irrigated by the water recovery system.
The general lack of sophistication which lies at the heart of the project is reflected in the extremely simple design. The eco-house is a single-storey rectangular building with bamboo screens on its north and south facades and a butterfly roof which directs rainwater along its longitudinal axis. Two projecting roofs supported by a slim white metal frame cover the two entrances. Natural colours, from bamboo to unfired red bricks, dominate both inside and out. The different textures create visual continuity on the four facades.
At the core of the entire project is “non-invasive, shared design, which acts as a champion and symbol of human rights” conclude TAMassociati “such as access to water, food, and being able to continue living in one’s birthplace and only leaving out of choice”.

Mara Corradi

Architects: studio TAMassociati
Inspired by: Circolo Sunugal APS, Venice,
Coordination: MUSOCO onlus Mutalità, Solidarietà e Cooperazione
Local partners: Senegalese NGO “Union pour la Solidarité et l’Entraide (USE)
Technical partners: Francesco Steffinlongo, K&G Progetti

Location: Keur Bakar Diahité, Senegal
Gross project area: 4500 sqm 
Indoor area of community eco-house: 400 sqm
Gross area of community eco-house: 280 sqm

Shared pathway and partnership building: 2012-2014
Architectural design: 2014-2015
Eco-house built: 2015-2017

Structure in unfired clay bricks
Metal roof
Bamboo screens



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