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Women's House the theme of this year's Kaira Looro competition

18 of January '21

The next edition of the Kaira Looro international architectural competition has been launched. The theme of this year's installment, which aims to eliminate all forms of discrimination, promote gender equality and empower women in Africa, is the Women's House.

Kaira Looro is an initiative of the Balouo Salo organization. The name is derived from the Niger-Congolese language (Mandinka) and means as much as "building peace" or "architecture for peace," which, as the organizers emphasize, does not only refer to the creation of architecture, but also to an approach aimed at building a peaceful environment. Launched with an architectural workshop in 2016, the initiative has evolved over time into an international architectural competition aimed at raising awareness of the situation prevailing in African countries, raising funds for the development of humanitarian projects, but also introducing young architects to the international design scene. The competition, moreover, promotes a sustainable and environmentally friendly approach to design, encourages research into simple technologies and the use of local materials.

Women's House

Rural development, breaking down barriers, reducing inequalities and creating a sustainable and stable environment all depend on the hard work that every member of society invests, both directly and indirectly, in the social collective. Gender equality is crucial to building a just society where everyone, based on their background and resources, can make a significant contribution to sustainable development. The challenge of the competition is to design a home for women that aims to promote gender equality as a key factor in rural development. The structure must be a space designed for activities that focus on education, awareness raising and rural development in the name of equality, the contest organizers write.

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location of the Women's House

© organizers archive

Designed in southern Senegal, the Women's House is intended to be a symbolic, welcoming structure inspired by local traditions, integrated into the surrounding environmental and cultural context. A place for meetings and engaging discussions, promoting gender equality and protecting women's rights, helping to build awareness and knowledge, and stimulating the involvement of all sectors of society. It is to be a structure made using sustainable technologies, with natural or recycled materials that can be built in cooperation with the local community without the need for heavy vehicles or complicated instruments. The area of the proposed Women's House headquarters should not exceed 200 square meters. The building should be one-story, and its interior should be flexible in arrangement, depending on current needs or planned events.


The quality of life in the Sedhiou region, where the project will be implemented, is among the lowest in the country, according to the competition organizers. This situation is influenced by the lack of development, long distance from major urban centers, lack of resources and infrastructure. 90 percent of the population living in the project area lives in poverty, sanitation conditions are among the worst in the country, access to clean water is almost nil - 86 percent of people live in houses without a source of drinking water, 70 percent have no access to electricity.

86 percent of people live in homes without a drinking water source86 percent of people live in homes without a drinking water source86 percent of people live in homes without a drinking water source

86 percent of people live in homes without a source of potable water

© organizers archive

The women's house will be built in Baghere municipality, a region currently home to some twenty-two thousand residents in twenty-three villages. In the village of Baghere, where nearly two thousand two hundred people live, more than half of whom are women, there are women's associations organizing activities for village development and agricultural and commercial activities. The facility is to be built on the edge of the road, along one of the village's main axes, near offices, schools, a mosque and the headquarters of the medical service.


The competition can be participated in individually or in a team of up to five people. One can register one's participation in the contest from January 16 to April 30 this year, and registration fees are a contribution to the construction of the winning project. Submissions can be made until May 30, and the results will be announced on June 27, 2021.


The winner(s) of the competition will not only have the opportunity to realize their project, receive a financial prize of €5,000, but also an internship at the Kengo Kuma & Associates studio. Second prize winners will receive EUR 1,000 and the opportunity to complete an internship at the Miralles Tagliabue EMBT studio, while third place winners will receive a prize of EUR 500 and an internship at the SBGA office.

The projects will be judged by a jury consisting of architect Kengo Kuma, architect Benedetta Tagliabue, Salimata Diop Dieng - Minister of Women, Family and Gender Affairs of the Republic of Senegal, Lehau lawyer Victoria Maloka, Urko Sanchez - director of Urko Sanchez Architects, Oulimata Sarr, Director of UN Women. Women in West and Central Africa, Azzurra Muzzonigro of Waiting Posthuman Studio, and Agostino Ghirardelli of SBGA studio.

Detailed information can be found on the Kaira Looro 2021 competition website.

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