Women's Centre, Hollmén-Reuter-Sandman
Rufisque, Senegal, 2001


Restaurants, Store, Sport & Wellness,

Wood, Cement, Glass,


The Women's centre is located in Rufisque, an old port city in Senegal which has be forced to grow into poor, arid land to the north by the advancement of the sea.

Women's Centre, Hollmén-Reuter-Sandman<br> Rufisque, Senegal, 2001 There is another entrance in the northwest corner, where a small public square is to be created on the outside, with a restaurant and a shop for sale of handicrafts made in the women's centre.
The northern side is entirely occupied by the kitchens, one indoors and one outdoors, while the eastern side is used for crafts activities, with a dyeing house where women produce the beautiful fabrics out of which their clothes are made - one of the most beautiful architectural spaces in the complex.
Here the large red pillars at set at wide intervals to let out the toxic gases produced during the dyeing process, and a courtyard is dedicated to drying the fabrics.

Hollmén, Reuter and Sandman managed to convert the city's poverty into strength, creating low-cost sustainable architecture out of materials which are easily obtainable locally and are mostly recycled.
The building is sheltered from heat using age-old African traditional techniques reinvented with the aid of contemporary know-how, resulting in a building with massive concrete walls with few openings and plenty of features contributing shade, such as arcades, masonry grilles and sunshades.
The ventilated roof is covered with corrugated sheet metal supported by a structure of recycled steel. The ceilings are cane mats fastened at a distance below the roof to allow air to circulate and cool down the rooms by convection.
The choice of materials also reflects the architects' sustainable approach and attention to the local situation.
Wood is used only where no other material would do, as it is a very precious material in an area with very little vegetation.
The cement used to construct the walls comes from western Africa's largest cement mill, which is located right in Rufisque, and reinforced with recycled iron.
Ventilation in the rooms is aided by rims from scrapped automobiles drowned in the masonry, and the bathroom windows are made of the bases of glass bottles.
The result is a poetic form of ethical architecture which is inspired by simplicity and demonstrates a return to concrete design. The Museum of Finnish Architecture has chosen the project to represent Finland at the Seventh Venice Biennale, Next.

Flores Zanchi

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