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Art & Craft

Innovative Architects in Burkina Faso Tackle Heat Challenges



By Grace Chigbu


Architects face an extraordinary challenge when building schools in Burkina Faso due to scorching temperatures, limited resources, and young clients. However, architects like Diébédo Francis Kéré and Albert Faus are devising clever solutions to ensure that schools and orphanages in the country remain cool and inviting despite the harsh conditions.


Kéré, who hails from the village of Gando, understands these challenges intimately. His upbringing in the region inspired him to use local materials and traditional techniques combined with modern technology to create comfortable learning environments. His first project, Gando primary school, built-in 2001, exemplifies this approach. Despite initial skepticism from his community about using clay instead of glass, Kéré successfully merged traditional methods with modern innovations to achieve better comfort for students and teachers.


One of Kéré’s notable projects is the Noomdo orphanage, which prioritizes thermal comfort without relying on air conditioning, a significant energy-saving measure in a region where temperatures can reach 40°C (104°F) during the hottest season. The orphanage’s design utilizes local materials like laterite stone and incorporates features such as raised metal roofs to allow for natural airflow and protection from the sun.


Similarly, Albert Faus’s Bangre Veenem school complex showcases innovative strategies to combat the heat. By using bricks made from laterite stone native to the area, Faus minimized material transportation and embraced the territory’s resources. The result is a comfortable learning environment where students can concentrate without being hindered by extreme temperatures.


These projects not only address the immediate need for comfortable spaces but also consider long-term sustainability and community engagement. By involving local communities in the construction process and utilizing indigenous materials, architects like Kéré and Faus are not only creating functional buildings but also fostering a sense of pride and ownership among residents.


In a country where access to electricity is limited, these projects also highlight the importance of alternative energy sources like solar panels, which provide light for studying at night. By creating conducive learning environments, these architects are paving the way for better educational outcomes and improved quality of life for Burkina Faso’s youth.


Despite the myriad challenges they face, architects in Burkina Faso are proving that with creativity, resourcefulness, and a deep understanding of local conditions, it’s possible to build schools and orphanages that are not only resilient to the elements but also contribute to the well-being of the communities they serve.



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