A pulse of peace
This is my entry for the architecture competition Kaira Looro: the design of a peace pavilion in memory of the innocent victims of war in Africa. A symbolic structure promoting the culture of peace; my intention was to find an architectural form that can be related to universally.
When reflecting upon the meaning of peace, I concluded that this pavilion should not be one enclosed homogeneous space. Peace is more complex than just calmness or the absence of conflict. It means to continuously decide to be open to new situations and opposite ideas, to put oneself in a vulnerable position when interacting genuinely. Peace is fragile; it can be over in an instance, like a harmoniously vibrating string that suddenly snaps.
Rhythm is sound in motion. It is related to the pulse, the heartbeat, the way we breathe. It rises and falls. It takes us into ourselves; it takes us out of ourselves.
– Edward Hirsch
My notion of peace is made tangible by two counter posing undulating walls with contrasting characteristics. Along a central line they move to and from one another. This creates tension at their intersections, but also a sequence of spaces in between. Every space unfolds itself differently in size, shape and orientation and together the spaces celebrate the beauty of diversity.
One wall is solid and heavy, showcasing things unchanging, such as historic facts of Africa’s conflicts. This is the wall of awareness. The other wall is kinetic, transparent and light. It stands for memories, dreams, wishes and prayers. Countless colorful squares create waves with the wind, symbolizing the lives that have been lost. This is the wall of contemplation.
The spaces embraced by the walls are multifunctional. They can be used for art exhibitions, for meditational practices and for educational purposes in small groups. In my proposal these three main functions are intertwined rather than given separate areas. Visitors can choose freely which route to take, without following a strict order.
Sometimes we seek a silent spot to reflect while in other moments we hope to find strength in commemorating with others. For this purpose one spacious room is positioned beside the undulating walls. Here, larger groups can meet and events can take place. The space is oriented inwards, which also makes it suitable for introspection at less busy times.
The main axis of the pavilion is positioned parallel to the water line and forms a transition from the vibrant city life around the markets to the calming view at the Casamance river. It connects to an existing path towards the rice paddies. A perpendicular walkway crosses the pavilion right ahead of the approaching street, ending into a new pier.These firm connections follow the organized grid of Sedhiou, while the volumes amidst are placed playfully, inspired by the houses filling the city pattern in a chaotically pleasing style. Individual spaces can be closed off, while the pavilion continuous to be permeable. It is designed to blend with its environment, not to form any boundaries.
I am neither of the East nor of the West. No boundaries exist within my breast.
Use of materials
Two things struck me most about Sedhiou. First are the vibrant reds, greens and blues of the natural environment (soil, vegetation and river) and how grey pavements and metal sheets enhance their intensity. Second are the piles of waste carelessly thrown along the river.
I exploited these contrasts to strengthen my concept of two opposing movements. The solid walls will be made of the natural and locally sourced materials: clay, sand and shells. The kinetic, translucent walls mainly consist of reused man-made waste materials such as plastics and cans.
The structure of the roofs covering the individual rooms is made out of wood and covered by metal sheets. This adds to the idea of creating poetic spaces by bringing together seemingly conflicting materials. The commemoration hall consists solely of natural materials; earthen walls and a roof made of straw and wood.
All elements play a role in achieving a comfortable climate. The earthen walls regulate temperature and humidity. The kinetic walls compose sounds on the waves of the wind, and together with the lifted metal sheet roofs enhance the natural ventilation.