ISTHME // LE CHAOS SENSIBLE
Author names: Dafni Filippa & Meriam Sehimi
Instagram accounts: filippa__d_arch , petit_papier_
(Bachelor Thesis at the Technical University of Munich in the Chair of “Architectural Design and Participation” of Professor Francis Kéré.)
“Accra, the capital of Ghana is a booming city in West Africa. The task is to design a mixed-use building in Jamestown, a vibrant quarter which is one of the oldest and historically most important parts of the Ghanaian capital. Jamestown is a diverse place with its popular boxing clubs, fishing har-bor and markets. The site is located by the seaside and High Street, one of Accras‘ main roads, thus offering a diverse potential for living, commercial, sport and leisure. The aim is to design a multistorey building, which fulfills different functions: it provides apartments suitable for ghanaian families; gives space for commercial, such as shops and restaurants; complements the former uses with a community program e.g. Sports facilities.”
The design scheme was not only influenced by the site’s context but also from the psychology of the topographic and urban fabric. Sensing Africa’s fluctuating nature, our priority was to capture and grow an “Architecture of Empowerment” while revealing and celebrating the generosity of the “African Spirit”. As the site is located in the Ghanaian coastline, it performs actively through its natural borders which constantly absorb the complex and vibrant overflow of the city. This exact relationship between topography and human behaviour defines the project’s identity. On site, the naturally formed isthmus combined with the city’s dense urban fabric forms a “Sensible Chaos”, an ordered but also kinetic space.
While observing and analyzing the photos and videos of Accra, we were fascinated by how the movement of lightweight elements (e.g temporarily spanned fabrics, informal roofs, hanged clothing pieces) could be instantly transformed into architecture the second they were set in tension by the ocean breeze. Reflecting similar moments in our building, we envisioned a lightweight textile canopy, which performs under the wind’s choreography hiding or revealing moments of the building’s program.
The chosen program is based on the notions of habitat, human dignity and identity and orders a dynamic progression of space towards the ocean. In order to weave these 3 narratives together, we positioned “activation points” which work as notations initiating our program‘s growth and dynamic, either pulling or releasing tension between the spaces.
Following the importance of freedom and expression, we aimed to create an open structure which “blows out the space”.Rather than just working with forms, we imagined them as being forces, and leading energies in our concept were a movement of a space causes the activation of another.
The project challenges Accra’s creative expression, while focusing on gifting Freedom through Architecture.
This project received the 1st prize in the “Architecture Thesis of the Year 2020” award, organised by the Charette Org.
The Charette Org.: