Inspired by the vernacular architecture of the Benin people.
What inspired you to enter this special competition to create a modern architectural language for Africa?
The culturally rich and diverse nature of the African continent has always fascinated me. The long history of construction skills and know-how displayed by different ethnic groups that reflect the harmonious symphony with the various landscapes and terrains have and would continue to exert the potentials to inspire the architecture of the next generations. For example, the use of fractal geometries, which is native to various tribes of the continent, serves an important role in the development of the mathematical studies of such knowledge. I strongly believe that the myriad of traditional architecture of Africa could become the catalyst in the amalgamation of a new architectural language that speaks in a unique yet modern manner. It is an honor to be a part of such endeavor.
Why do you believe African homeowners will be interested in building a home such as the one you have submitted today?
The design draws inspiration from an endangered form of construction expertise of the Tammari people. It captures the essence of the traditional elements of both aesthetics and construction techniques and translates it into modern term that promises comfort and neighborhood well-being. The employment of new material technique by stabilizing banco which is made of widely abundant mud and straw, with cement allows the utilization of low cost material to create a more durable structure that reflects the elder wisdom of the past. In term of the interior layout, the design draws inspiration from the layout of the Tata Somba which emphasizes familial congregation and smooth function flows across spaces.
What did you find most interesting or challenging during the research and development of your prototype?
The most attractive side of African architecture is also the most difficult side – the multitude of varying styles and forms. The initial search for a common theme that could best depict what that could be called ‘African Identity’ proves inferior to a bottom-up method that instead of defining it top-down, attempts to come to con- verge to a common set of identities by identifying the essence of architectural styles of various localities, in this design the Atakora of Benin. The next challenge is to determine the method of translation of traditional elements of design into modern terms. In this design, the main theme is to mimic the space allocation of the multi-story chambers of varying heights into a modern build that preserves the functional flows as well as the exterior form.
Chiou, Tan Boon
ATL: Vol. 1:
1, Article 17.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.kennesaw.edu/atl/vol1/iss1/17