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Children's Home in Senegal. A competitive proposal by students of the Warsaw University of Technology

25 of July '22

In mid-July this year we learned the results of this year's edition of theKaira Loorocompetition for young architects and female archite cts, the theme of which was the design of aChildren's Home in Senegal. Alicja Bakalarska, Julia Ciężar, Matylda Wolska, students of the Faculty of Architecture at the Warsaw University of Technology, who paid special attention in their work to natural construction materials, mock-up and simulation of the entire construction, also submitted their proposal.

The competition task was to design a facility in Baghere village that would support activities for children at risk of malnutrition by, among other things, providing food, developing hygiene and health care awareness programs, meeting with pediatricians and social workers, as well as providing roofs for patients and training community nurses. According to the regulations, the one-story building of 250 square meters should be easy to construct and created from natural or recycled materials.

Wnętrze Domu Dzieci w Senegalu

The interior of the Children's Home in Senegal

© Alicja Bakalarska, Julia Ciężar, Matylda Wolska

spatial construction from earth and wood

Three Grand Prizes, two Honorable Mentions and five Special Mentions were awarded in the competition. The project of Alicja Bakalarska, Julia Ciężar and Matylda Wolska, although not in the finals, but the approach of the students of the Warsaw University of Technology to the design process deserves attention.

The idea of the young designers was to create a spatial structure that will perform various functions depending on the needs.

Projekt Domu Dzieci w Senegalu, przekrój

spatial construction performs various functions

© Alicja Bakalarska, Julia Ciężar, Matylda Wolska

It is a load-bearing structure, a playground, a storage area, a permanent formwork and a substructure for furniture. It grows and grows, adapting to the prevailing needs. The building combines constancy with changeability, security and unconstrainedness, the authors explain.

Projekt Domu Dzieci w Senegalu, rzut

The building's amphitheater layout facilitates communication inside the building

© Alicja Bakalarska, Julia Ciężar, Matylda Wolska

The building was made of two local materials: earth and wood. The students used a wall of compacted earth, blending it into the surroundings. As they say, this makes the project grow out of the ground, being rooted in place. The earth is meant to give constancy, monolithicity and security, while the skeletal structure offers the possibility of variability and lightness. The technology used works very well in conditions of high humidity and higher temperatures. The walls, 25 centimeters thick, accumulate heat during the day and give it back at night, absorbing moisture in return.

Projekt Domu Dzieci w Senegalu, makieta

mockup of the Children's House

© Alicja Bakalarska, Julia Ciężar, Matylda Wolska

two types of frame walls

The wreath, lintel and the beginning of the Children's House wall was made of earth combined with Portland cement. To avoid damage from rainfall, the whole thing is covered by a long eave and raised 38 centimeters above the ground.

The authors designed two types of frame walls. The first type is a 50×50×50 module wall, which serves as a substructure for storage, tables, seats, beds and a playground. The second type is a substructure for rammed earth walls, which is made using the same technology. The braid placed under the ceiling is intended to serve an acoustic function, insulating the room and giving the interior a warmer, homelike atmosphere.

Detal projektowy, pod dachem znajduje się rynna zbierająca wodę

There is a gutter under the roof to collect water

© Alicja Bakalarska, Julia Ciężar, Matylda Wolska

special gutter for water

Under the roof structure, a gutter with a trapezoidal cross-section runs the entire length of the building, collecting condensed water and rainwater and restricting daylight.

This water is then used for flushing toilets, washing hands and cleaning. When the tank overflows, emergency drains are placed at the two ends, carrying the water away from the building, the designers explain.

Meanwhile, the amphitheater layout of the building used facilitates communication inside the building. Such a layout, also allows the adaptation of interiors and their interconnection, blurring the boundaries between them. This makes the building easily adaptable to the current needs of users.

Budowa makiety i połączeń ciesielskich

construction of mock-up and carpentry connections

© Alicja Bakalarska, Julia Ciężar, Matylda Wolska

mockup and construction simulation

Working on the design of the Children's House, the students paid great attention to the construction, materials, as well as details. They arranged a simulation of the construction of the entire premise, from laying the foundations, to making carpentry connections, to the construction of the overall structure.

We began our work on the project with a detail that was to be the starting point for the exterior. The premise was to design such a carpentry joint, the execution of which is possible in all conditions. This joint allows for the addition of more interlocking elements," they add.

Projekt Domu Dzieci w Senegalu, detal połączeń

joint details

© Alicja Bakalarska, Julia Ciężar, Matylda Wolska

The students worked on mock-ups in several scales - 1:10, 1:5, 1:2 and 1:1. The first ideas were created in styrodur, and when they were sure what they wanted to cut in the wood, they took a piece of board and a saw. This allowed them to see how the wood would behave in subsequent cuts and gave them further ideas for improving the joints. The final stage was a simulation of the entire construction.

Dom Dzieci w Baghere

The building was designed in Baghere

© Alicja Bakalarska, Julia Ciężar, Matylda Wolska

We laid, cut earlier, blocks for the foundations. On them we placed poles, which wedged with longitudinal boards. We would turn the next level of posts by 90 degrees to make the structure more stable. This is how five levels were created. Having the first module, we began the process of ramming the soil. The first layer, additionally reinforced with Portland cement, was laid to a height of 40 centimeters and compressed to about 20 centimeters. Together with the formation of the earth walls, we added more modules. We left the tallest module in the skeletal structure itself to give the building room for natural ventilation. Our task was to design a form that would be changeable and adaptable. The design is one of many options, of how the building can evolve. We wanted to give a range of possibilities, for changes and future expansions, so that the building, as long as possible, fulfills its function," the authors conclude.

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