First place – Public

Architect: 3RW arkitekter

Project: Sabou School (Sabou, Burkina Faso)


The elementary school in Sabou – Burkina Faso is a collaboration between the Belgian charity organization VZW Sabou and 3RW arkitekter. Local building traditions in Burkina Faso and their strong formal identity were the inspiration of the architectural language. Its built expression combines the lightness of roof waves with heavy walls that protects the rooms from the strong heat.

The plan of the building echoes the village’s dense traditional layout, built in a unifying and protective circle around an inner courtyard. Inspired by local building tradition in Burkina Faso, the school is designed with a clear identity that combines a protective and lightweight roof with heavy shielding walls. The outer wall is painted by local craftsmen and reflects local traditional pattern identity. The roof is shaped like a folded piece of paper, gliding over the red soiled ground and giving shadow to a variety of rooms. A network of steel trusses supports the thin corrugated iron sheets and provides for a double roof that are naturally ventilated through open “ventilator” blocks in the upper level and the outer walls. The wall facing the inner courtyard is made from steel lamellae that can be fully open. Solar panels feed the fans, supporting extra ventilation in the classrooms during extreme periods of heat. The construction is produced as a kit for efficient assembly. During the rainy season during the summer months, water is collected from roofs in closed tanks in the ground.

The school provides a new life to the village that was in big need for a new educational center. The close collaboration between the Belgian based charity organization VZW Sabou, the local teachers and municipality of Sabou, local craftsmen and 3RW arkitekter has made a School in the sense of “poor initiatives” programs: In the world of helping organization there is an increasing understanding that one of the most efficient ways to combat poverty is the adaptation of such programs. Here the local population has the opportunity to take charge of their own destinies. The project represents community driven development that contributes to the strengthening of local environments.

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