In the Horn of Africa, and more precisely in Tadjoura (Djibouti), Urko Sánchez Architects designed a 15-house compound for the international organisation SOS Children's Villages International.
The study of the traditional houses and the difficult climatic conditions of the territory was critical for the project of the architects, who identified the "medina" as the perfect building solution.
The compound had to meet specific requirements: first of all, it had to be a safe environment for children, where the narrow streets and squares would create a suitable area for safe play, with no cars; secondly, its public and private open spaces had to be clearly distinguishable, so as to create a harmony between the private open spaces and the inside areas of the houses, allowing for the encouragement of outdoor activities; lastly, lots of vegetation was required, to encourage inhabitants to take care of the grounds. The houses are similar to one another, but their layouts are different; they are in close proximity to each other, so as to create a network of alleyways that appear disordered but that, in actual fact, have been carefully studied to guarantee the best possible climatic conditions, also thanks to the presence, where needed, of ventilation towers.
The jury of the Archmarathon Awards, on assigning the award for the “Mixed Tenure Housing & Buildings” category, pointed out that Urko Sánchez Architects had designed a child-friendly village, with a project that respects the environment and local traditions.
Design: Urko Sánchez Architects
Location: Tadjourah, Djibouti (Gibuti)
Images courtesy of Archmarathon Awards, photo by Javier Callejas