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Women's center
Rufisque, Senegal
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Community center for women in a traditional society.

image: Hollmén-Reuter-Sandman Architects | © all rights reserved
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Category:
meeting place
Phase:
in use
Design:
Hollmén-Reuter-Sandman Architects
Updated:
13 November 2011
introduction

The women's centre, built in a suburb of Rufisque, offers facilities for the activities of the various organisations formed by the women. The idea and the spatial programme of the centre were born in cooperation with local women's groups. The building was carried out as an NGO project through 'Tekniska Föreningen i Finland', and was financed by the Finnish Foreign Ministry, the Senegalese-Finnish Association ARC, as well as by scholarships received from various foundations. The plot was donated by the city of Rufisque and donations were also given by locals.

Maison Wolof: a cluster of family houses around the courtyard.

image: HOLLMEN REUTER SANDMAN architects | © all rights reserved
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cultural and social context

The general African way of women organising themselves in organisations, with the number of members ranging from tens to hundreds, also occurs in Senegal. An active and strong women's group attempts to ease its members' everyday life amidst poverty and strives to guarantee them a reasonable 'social security'. The schooling level is raised by independent initiative and literacy courses. The organisations supplement their incomes by selling home-made food and needlework. Also they help women to adapt to the change in life in moving to the city from the countryside. Their activities have an organised structure, which means a step forward from the traditional social network created by family and friends.

materials and building techniques

The building frame is a column and beam structure cast on site, with the walls made from concrete blocks cast in a mould and dried on site. The roof is corrugated metal sheeting supported by a steel beam system, with thick woven straw matting forming an insulating ceiling structure; the spacing between is ventilated, which guarantees that the indoor air is kept pleasantly cool. Localness and recycling is emphasised in the material choices; for instance, the use of wood is limited to only those places where it could not be replaced by any other material; and in detailing, for instance, old car wheel rims have been used as ventilation holes and the bottoms of old glass bottles for windows. The reinforcement irons in the concrete have been made from recycled iron.

earth and climate

We wanted to apply ecological and local solutions in the construction work, and for a long while we studied, among other features, opportunities to use stabilized mud bricks. But there was no suitable type of clay for this purpose in the nearby region, and since Sococim, the largest cement factory of Western Africa is in the outskirts of the city , cement is accordingly a local material. This issue was ultimately solved by the fact that Sococim donated all the necessary cement for the project.

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image gallery
View on the street.

image: HOLLMEN REUTER SANDMAN architects | © all rights reserved
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Exterior view.

image: HOLLMEN REUTER SANDMAN architects | © all rights reserved
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Exterior view.

image: HOLLMEN REUTER SANDMAN architects | © all rights reserved
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Facade detail.

image: HOLLMEN REUTER SANDMAN architects | © all rights reserved
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Intermediate space.

image: HOLLMEN REUTER SANDMAN architects | © all rights reserved
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View towards the courtyard.

image: HOLLMEN REUTER SANDMAN architects | © all rights reserved
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Another view towards the courtyard.

image: HOLLMEN REUTER SANDMAN architects | © all rights reserved
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Gathering space.

image: HOLLMEN REUTER SANDMAN architects | © all rights reserved
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Passage.

image: HOLLMEN REUTER SANDMAN architects | © all rights reserved
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technical drawings
Plan.

image: HOLLMEN REUTER SANDMAN architects | © all rights reserved
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Section-1.

image: HOLLMEN REUTER SANDMAN architects | © all rights reserved
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Section-2.

image: HOLLMEN REUTER SANDMAN architects | © all rights reserved
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Section-3.

image: HOLLMEN REUTER SANDMAN architects | © all rights reserved
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Roof detail.

image: HOLLMEN REUTER SANDMAN architects | © all rights reserved
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Location
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