Project description

In the fall of 2011 three architecture students from NTNU travelled to Niafourang, a small coastal village in the

Casamance region of Senegal, to design and build a Youth Center.
The population of Niafourang is approximately 300 inhabitants. The village is very poor and people generally live
hand to mouth. Locals harvest rice from fields and fish from the river. The region is lush with vegetation due to its
tropical climate. There is a high unemployment rate and many young people leave Niafourang to find work
December 2010 we got in touch with Hilde Huus-Hansen. Hilde leads a non-profit organization; Friends of
Niafourang, that works to improve conditions for local youth and create job opportunities in the village. She was
looking to build a Youth Center in Niafourang that would include a computer room/library and a larger multipurpose
room. The intention was to create opportunities, jobs and development in the village. An important
aspect of the project was to involve the local community in both the building and planning stages, in order to
create a sense of ownership and pride in the resulting building.
Work started shortly after our arrival in Niafourang and lasted an intense 10 weeks. There is no electricity in the
village so apart from the use of a battery powered drill, no electrical devices where used. Planning and building
There was great enthusiasm surrounding the project and the entire village partook in volunteer work. This was
entirely essential for the completion of the building in the limited timeframe and very important for the buildings
We became close with many of the locals that partook in building the Youth Center. For the first time we had the
opportunity of being directly involved with the future users of the building. This made us very aware of the
consequences of our design decisions in addition to making the work feel meaningful.
The walls are built using blocks of compressed sand and a small amount of cement. The blocks were handpressed
using a local machine with sand shoveled from a nearby ditch. Windows are positioned low on the walls
with deep frames, so they can be used to sit in. Steel brackets were custom welded in a nearby village and hold
the roof construction. The corrugated aluminum roof juts out beyond the walls to prevent rain from entering the
building and creates shady areas to relax. The entire roof is lifted to allow air to pass through. Underneath the
protruding roof, a concrete belt surrounds the building creating a shady platform. The roof extends to include a
second floor outside the walls of the multi-purpose room. The second floor is accessible by an outdoor ladder and
functions as an extension of the library/computer room or the multi-purpose room. Angled wood planks serve as
blinds, preventing both rain and direct sunlight.
The Youth Center is already in use and will hopefully contribute to positive development in Niafourang. We hope
the 10 week long building and planning process has left the local community as inspired as it has left us.

More info / Contact

Contact person / Assad Ansar / 92880530

Fact box

All photos © Assad Ansar

Location:    Niafourang, Senegal
Architects:    Project Niafourang
Project team:    Tore Hanssen Grimstad, Andreas Brunvoll, Assad Ansar
Client:    Friends of Niafourang
Budget:    100.000 NOK (Approx. 13,100 EUR)
Floor area:    250 m2
Number of floors:    2
Project status:    Completed
Project year:    October-December 2011
Sponsors:    Lund+Slaatto Architects
Photographs:    Project Niafourang