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Thinking local

first_imgArchitect Diébédo Francis Kéré — a recent visitor to Harvard — has an office in Berlin. But his heart is in Burkina Faso, the tiny West African country of his boyhood.“More than 80 percent are illiterate,” he said of his compatriots. “Most of the people never heard of the term ‘architecture.’ [They think] maybe it’s a kind of food.”Kéré, who delivered a Dean’s Diversity Initiative lecture Nov. 10 at the Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD), uses architecture to explore local building techniques, sustainable materials, and climate-appropriate design. Not surprisingly, he sees education as the way out of poverty, and building the right schools as a step in that direction.To make clay bricks from local soil, architect Diébédo Francis Kéré added a strengthening mixture of 6-to-8 percent cement. Here is a traditional clay floor.Schools in West Africa and elsewhere should not be technical transplants of Western styles and materials, said Kéré, but a blend of modern and traditional techniques that empower local populations and sustain local resources.Illiteracy is a fact of life in Burkina Faso; so is poverty. People can’t afford technical help when building, said Kéré — “they just copy the new house in the neighborhood.” At the same time, regarding the built environment, expectations are low. “People in this part of the world are happy,” he said, “when you build them a wall that is strong and stands up in the rainy season.”In a land of clay houses, many of them built in a few days, repairs have to be made after every rainy season. Meanwhile, modern additions such as roofs of corrugated tin are not good performers in West Africa’s torrid climate. Kéré showed a slide of a typical primary school, a rectangle of clay topped with a tin roof. “I myself have sat in a building like this with 120 other children,” he said of his boyhood. “This is not a place to teach people, but more a place to cook bread.”Kéré came to architecture with other ideas, and an impulse to blend the sensibilities of the old and the advances of the new. As a third-year student in Berlin, he designed a primary school in Gando, a village of 3,000. To make clay bricks from local soil, he added a strengthening mixture of 6-to-8 percent cement. The roof was tin, but rode sail-like on a lattice of steel bars. Its wide overhangs protect clay walls from rain and let hot air rise and cool breezes circulate. The tools required for the metal work were simple: handsaws, a small welding machine.Kéré came to architecture with an impulse to blend the sensibilities of the old and the advances of the new.The floors were traditional stamped clay impregnated with natural oils. To make the pebblelike soil smooth and flat, the women of the village spread it on the floor and beat it for hours into a sandlike consistency. Local drummers, a regular part of construction crews, marked a rhythm. With the right beat, said Kéré of the floor makers, “the weakest and the strongest are the same.”Local workers using local materials built the school in nine months, at a cost of less than $30,000. Ten years later, said Kéré, the robust structure looks like it did on the first day. The design won an Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 2004, inspired local imitators, and made the village famous. “The people are proud — really proud,” he said. “That’s what you can do with a little project.”Few design projects “leave a true mark,” said GSD Dean Mohsen Mostafavi. Kéré’s Gando primary school is one of them. He called it a bridge “between the cultures of the West and the cultures of Africa.”At Gando, Kéré did more than design and supervise, added the dean — he “created the organizational circumstances for raising the money.” Financing was a key problem, so in 1999 Kéré set up a nonprofit called, in translation, “Bricks for the Gando School.”In 2006, Kéré received 70,000 euros to build a secondary school in Dano, a Burkina Faso market town known for weaving and pottery. “When you have a project like that, a tiny budget, you need people who can fight,” he said in praise of his local staff, “who can go to the market and buy more with less.”For that project, he used another local material — laterite, an iron-rich soil that is harvested soft, spaded into brick shapes, and sun-dried into rusty-red building blocks.He convinced the local elders that having an open-air school would not only circulate cool air, but it would be open “even for the ancestors,” said Kéré. Building in other cultures requires “more than building regulations,” he said, including listening, respect, and a feel for local materials.Sometimes, projects have to happen very fast. In 2009, Kéré was commissioned by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture to be lead architect for the National Park of Mali in the nation’s capital, Bamako. “We had little time to make this complicated project,” he said — on a rocky 250-acre site. “You have to fight . . . and not look for the easy way.”When he arrived in Mali, everyone had already settled on building everything with concrete. Kéré said, “Let’s go to the market. Let’s see what we have.” He designed a museum of local clay and rock, with bricks manufactured on-site.The park today has a sports center, gardens, and a restaurant open to the air and light, Kéré-style. It’s Mali’s biggest tourist attraction, and a rare segment of green space in a fast-growing city of one million.Kéré, who also teaches at the Technische Universität Berlin, has done projects all over the world — a garden in China, a girls’ school in India, school prototypes in Yemen, projects in Switzerland and Spain, even an “opera village” just outside Burkina Faso’s capital, Ouagadougou. But his architectural principles stay the same — “more for less,” the name of a conference in Spain he spoke at last year.Mostafavi, who created the diversity initiative in 2008, said there is a growing interest at Harvard in “activist practice” by architects “that make a big change in the world.In a land of clay houses, many of them built in a few days, repairs have to be made after every rainy season.last_img read more

SFA’s Ann Hollas, SHSU’s Madison Wallace Win Weekly Honors

first_imgFRISCO, Texas – Stephen F. Austin’s Ann Hollas and Sam Houston State’s Madison Wallace are the Southland Volleyball Players of the Week, the league announced Monday. All weekly awards are presented by MidSouth Bank. Offensive Player of the Week: Ann Hollas, Stephen F. Austin – Jr. – Setter – Longview, TexasThe junior setter did a little bit of everything for the Ladyjacks, helping them extend their win streak to 10 matches with victories over two Conference USA foes, an American Athletic Conference adversary who was receiving votes in the AVCA Coaches Poll and SEC opponent. Hollas started the week posting a double-double over Rice before downing 10 kills against Wichita State and Mississippi State. In each of those matches, Hollas hit .600 or better while running the Ladyjacks’ attack. Eclipsing 30 assists in two of SFA’s matches, Hollas became the seventh player in program history to reach the 2,000-assist career mark. The Longview product also earned North Texas Challenge All-Tournament Team accolades.   Southland weekly award winners are nominated and voted upon by each school’s sports information director. Voting for one’s own athlete is not permitted. To earn honorable mention, a student-athlete must appear on 25 percent of ballots. Sam Houston extended its win streak to four, picking up three wins at the Maverick Invitational hosted by UT Arlington. The Bearkats did not drop a set over the weekend, sweeping Belmont on Friday and taking down Grand Canyon and UTA on Saturday. SHSU hosts McNeese on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. on ESPN3 and Lamar on Saturday at 1 p.m. Honorable Mention: Samantha Anderson, Central Arkansas; Taylor Cunningham, Sam Houston State; Bethany Clapp, Incarnate Word; Kendall Bosse, Abilene Christian.center_img Defensive Player of the Week: Madison Wallace, Sam Houston State – Sr. – Libero – Pasadena, TexasThe Bearkats have been red hot since shifting Wallace to libero, closing out their non-conference action with four consecutive wins. The senior was named MVP of the Maverick Invitational after averaging 6.22 digs per set in three Sam Houston sweeps. Wallace closed out last week with 20 digs against Chicago State and picked up this week right where she left off, recording 20 in a three-set win over Belmont. She added another 20 digs against Grand Canyon before keeping alive another 16 with a career-best six service aces in a victory over UTA.Honorable Mention: Danae Daron, Stephen F. Austin; Emily Doss, Central Arkansas; Channing Burleson, Northwestern State. SFA (13-2, 0-0 Southland) won the North Texas Challenge, defeating receiving votes Wichita State 3-1 on Friday before taking down the tournament host in five sets and closing the tournament with a sweep of Mississippi State. The team also downed Rice in a four-setter Tuesday. The Ladyjacks open the Southland season at home Saturday against Central Arkansas (10-3, 0-0 SLC) at 1 p.m. CT. Hollas claimed offensive honors while Wallace garnered the defensive award as each player led their respective teams to undefeated weeks and tournament titles.last_img read more