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architecture as mediation

The objective of the Kaira Looro competition was to reflect on a “Women's House”, in the municipality of Baghere - Senegal, whose conception would seek to promote gender equality as an essential characteristic of rural development, through a symbolic-ecological architecture inspired by local traditions. 

IMAGEM 01.jpg

This proposal explores the capacity of architectural design as a mediator of collective decision-making processes. It is a method to be applied as a workshop. Female empowerment is a mechanism for development, but is also a goal in itself, as it enables women to make strategic choices about their own lives and communities. Based on this concept of empowerment, we stated our design as a process, dividing it into five steps

1º step - Wish

Wish Poems (Henry Sanoff 1995 and 2001) is a group dynamic in which women must express their needs, feelings and desires regarding the building or environment, verbally or through drawings. This approach encourages women to fantasize about their space, it is the first step in the design process. Women will be invited to complete this sentence:

“I wish my collective house ...”

on site meeting with women and the team responsible for the project

2º step - Layers

The architect who will mediate the moment will present to the women the layers of the architectural design using a model of the building’s structural module. Materials and methods can be changed and adapted to techniques that they consider most appropriate.

The architectural layers are separated in two groups - 

Basic elements: site (natural elements, wind, sun, water, vegetation); structure and coverage; skin; services and infrastructure; circulations and accesses
Elements that must be agreed collectively in the next step: size and location of the main spaces; uses and their requirements; transitional areas (circulation and secondary spaces).

3º step - Choices & limits

This step of the workshop will be carried out using a model with five structural modules, which together add up to 200 square meters of indoor spaces, and some structural modules that define outdoor spaces, also with a model of the site with existing elements. Each module must be collectively defined with a spatial quality compatible with its use.


1. roof with metal tile and wooden structure

2. wooden skin, door with shutters

3. evapotranspiration cell for gray

water treatment

4. market exhibitors emerging

from the structure

5. retreated space to pray and meditate

6. bamboo fences creating a more

open space for meetings

7. playground for the children

emerging from the structure

















4º step - Final adjustments

The design will be finished by the team of architects that will make the necessary adjustments. Finally, the architects will make drawings and schemes that are easy to understand and as communicative and comprehensible as possible. 

5º  - Construction site

The last step should be for training all women in the construction techniques of the wooden structural module. Finally, women must self-manage the construction site, they should autonomously define roles and tasks. We suggest that the module with the hydraulic infrastructure should be the first module to be built, so it can be used for cooking and personal hygiene of women during the construction process.

Our project is a method to be used in a workshop. It starts from a structural module to  incorporate the nature of self-construction by enabling flexibility, progressivity, construction in phases and replicability in other areas with similar context.

2021, project developed with Frederico Leite, Júlia Brito, Lucas Costas, and Yuka Ogawa

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