African architect Francis Kéré is making headlines for this year’s Serpentine Pavilion, but London’s not the only place where he’s making a splash. The Berlin-based architect was commissioned to redesign his home country’s National Assembly, the Burkina Faso parliament building that had been set ablaze during the country’s revolution in 2014. Covered in green terraces, the striking ziggurat structure draws on traditional African principles and will be complemented with a memorial park.
After 31 years of dictatorial rule, the people of Burkina Faso revolted against their government in a series of demonstrations and riots known as the 2014 Burkinabé uprising. In protest of the old regime, the former National Assembly was set ablaze and destroyed. As part of the country’s new start into democracy, architect Kéré was commissioned to design a new parliament building that would not only symbolize the country’s ideals for transparency, openness, and equality, but also catalyze development for Ouagadougou.
The proposed National Assembly is a giant ziggurat structure that rises to a height of six stories. “The stepped pyramidal structure becomes a monument that citizens can climb and have an elevated view of Ouagadougou,” wrote the Kéré Architecture. “In an area where the highest altitude does not exceed more than 400 meters, this unexpected but accessible height in the middle of the flat urban fabric offers a new perspective both literally and metaphorically.” A tree occupies the heart of the building in reference to “arbre à palabres” (tree of discussion) under which Burkinabé leaders make decisions in the countryside.
The 25,000-square-meter 127-seat public assembly also pays homage to subsistence farming since 90% of the country’s labor force is dedicated to agriculture. The pyramidal building’s facade provides solar shading and also includes publicly accessible green terraces that serve as educational tools to pioneer new urban farming methods. Strategically placed openings allows for crosswinds and natural cooling. The ruins of the old assembly are transformed into a shaded depression for the collection of rainwater that will be reused for on-site irrigation. A Memorial Park with a reflection pool and landscaping complements the building and offer a space for reflection on those who lost their lives in the revolts.
Images via Kéré Architecture