In the remote Senegalese village of Sinthian rises a culture center that twists and turns like a sinuous sculpture. New York-based Toshiko Mori Architect designed this eye-catching building, called Thread, as an artists’ residency and cultural center commissioned by the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation. Constructed from local materials, the building’s rammed earth and large thatched openings help promote natural cooling.
Winner of a 2017 AIA Honor Award, the Thread Artist Residency & Cultural Center comprises two artists’ dwellings and studio spaces for local and visiting international artists, but also serves as a greater community hub for Sinthian and the surrounding villages. Shared between twelve local tribes, the socio-cultural center provides agricultural training as well as an exhibition space, kindergarten, children’s play area, library, performance space, and a center for charging mobile homes.
“It is a hub for Sinthian and surrounding villages, providing agricultural training on the area’s fertile land and a meeting place for social organisation which is, in rural Senegal, the crucial mechanism for sustainable development,” says a statement from the Aga Khan Award for Architecture about the project. “The success of its atypical plurality proves why art and architecture should be the right of all people.”
Constructed with a team of 35 local workers over the course of a year, Thread is topped by an undulating thatched roof designed to facilitate rainwater collection, provide shade, and promote natural ventilation. The building structure was built from a bamboo framework fitted with rammed earth bricks that help absorb heat during the day and dissipates warmth at night. Site-specific solar conditions were taken into consideration when orienting the building spaces to minimize glare and unwanted solar heat gain.
Photographs © Iwan Baan