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African architecture and town planning Lecturer: Marie-Alphonse Liwata AYS-1406

Student project

Art Centre March 2010

Franziska Basel Student-no. 219193 franzi.basel@gmx.de page 1 of 18


Table of Content 1

2

3

4

Outline planning ................................................................................................................................... 3 1.1

Finding task................................................................................................................................... 3

1.2

Aims of the Art Centre.................................................................................................................. 3

1.3

Program for space and relations between different areas .......................................................... 4

Design work .......................................................................................................................................... 6 2.1

Analyze shape of African buildings and the requirement for the Art centre ............................... 6

2.2

Finding shape for the Art Centre .................................................................................................. 7

The Design ............................................................................................................................................ 9 3.1

First 3-dimensional shape ............................................................................................................ 9

3.2

The dimensions of the building .................................................................................................. 10

3.3

The functions of the Art Centre.................................................................................................. 10

3.4

Materials..................................................................................................................................... 11

3.5

Elevations and Sections .............................................................................................................. 12

3.6

Perspective views from outside ................................................................................................. 13

3.7

Perspective views from inside .................................................................................................... 15

Conclusion .......................................................................................................................................... 18

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1 Outline planning 1.1 Finding task At the beginning of the course African Architecture I thought about writing an essay about African Art and Craft. I am interest in European Art and in school I was only informed about this part of art and less about other cultural perceptions. That was the reason why I wanted to find out something about African Art and its connection to African History and way of life. However my home university gave me the instruction not only to analyze a theme, but also to design something. And as a result of this I decided to design an art and cultural centre. I tried to design a place where art can be exhibited, where you can work with art and where art is sold. With all this together it should not only be an art museum. It should more act like a cultural meeting point for the African population.

1.2 Aims of the Art Centre My aim is it to design a multifunctional art centre which will be located in the city centre of Brazzaville. It should include an exhibition part, a workshop part and also a small shop for selling art and required materials for making art. Reasons to create a space for exhibitions are: -

-

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to preserve African art and cultural heritage African art has an old traditional origin. I think more than in other for example European countries, the African art build on cultural historical background. This historical African art and craft is important for the understanding of the modern African art. Even before the imperialist penetration of the interior of Africa in the 19th Centuries, African artists and craftsmen were dealing with what they knew from other parts of the world. During the 20th Century in Africa developed an art, which is neither only in line with the older art of the continent, nor merely reproduced what has been created in the centers of the modern art world. Indeed, today's art of the continent is not situate between the two poles of tradition and modernity. The contemporary African art refers to both the older and the local as well as on regional and global trends. It is, therefore, independent and a document for the creative examination of the people of Africa with the contemporary world. to communicate and document contemporary trends in African art and craft to help promote young and established artists/craftspeople For young and unknown artist it is not easy to publish their art in a larger scale. They can not come in connection with potential buyers, which maybe come from another social layer. Furthermore the exhibit of art from young people provides maybe a new fresh trend in the art development. to provide incentives for artists and craftspeople page 3 of 18


Reasons for offering workshops are: -

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to bring the art, which was seen in the exhibition, closer to the visitors through own artistic work to discover, encourage and nurture works of creativity, originality and quality to communicate and document contemporary trends in African art and craft to preserve African cultural heritage and traditional modes of art and sculpture production Like I said before, the historical art and culture is of great significance for the contemporary African art. In the workshops this cultural heritage can be taught, firstly to keep the traditions of Africans in their mind and also to build a basic for understanding and producing modern art and craft. to improve social contact to prevent loneliness and social isolation Working in a group always helps to get in contact with other people. So a social network can be created, what is very important for inhabitants of big cities, where it is sometimes not that easy to catch up with somebody. Especially for kids it is important to have a task, so that they know what to do in their free time and that they do not do stupid and dangerous things. childcare for working parents The Art centre can also include a kind of childcare (like a kindergarten for kids), where working parents can bring their children when they are not going to school (for example in the school holidays).

Reasons for a shop are: -

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to promote and sell the work made in the workshops That can be a second inducement to take part in the workshops. to provide incentives for artists and craftspeople With this opportunity young and not yet established artists and craftspeople are getting the chance to become known. And in the future they can maybe someday live on art. to assist individuals and self-help projects to provide an income for rural and urban people

1.3 Program for space and relations between different areas In addition to the above written functions of the art centre, there also have to be other formal needed functions. Important for a public building is the reception or registration, where you get information about the exhibition, the workshops and so on. This information space should be at the entrance area of the building. The art centre of course also need restrooms and a storage. Furthermore a cafĂŠ can be located in the art centre, which is a second source of income. The cafĂŠ should have an outside connection, so that everybody can visit it, even if he does not go into the art center. To support the

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education intensions of the art centre, there should also be a communication/meeting room. In this room for example seminars and lectures by artists can take place. For the exhibition, workshop and shop area it is important to know which kind of art and craft is produced, exhibited and sold there. Following a listing of these. Paintings

Drawings

Traditional baskets

Textiles

Sculptures

Prints

Bead work

Ceramics

traditional masks

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The exhibition rooms need space for plane art, 2-dimensional art and craft. The different exhibitions can also be separated by modern/contemporary art and old/traditional art and the stuff made in the workshops. The workshop space must be provided for all these above shown kind of works. There are rooms for guided workshops and there can also be rooms for free working artist and craftspeople, which they can temporaryly rent for working there. The shop should be reachable from the exhibition area, but also from outside, that you don’t need to enter the art centre to buy something in the shop. The outside area is of course also an important space in Africa, because many daily activities are taking place outside. So the outside space can be used by the cafÊ, as an additional exhibition area or it can also be used in the workshops. Relation between the different spaces:

2 Design work 2.1 Analyze shape of African buildings and the requirement for the Art centre If you analyze the shape of traditional African farms it is easy to recognize that they all have the same system. They all consist of several individual rooms, which have different functions. The arrangement of these units depends on their function and their privacy. The entrance to the farm is mostly at the veranda and you enter the house through a common room. Around this room other sleeping rooms, the granary or a room for the farm animals can be arranged. The kitchen is the farthest room from the entrance, because it is the most private space. It is located after the granary and it will enter through this too. But very often the African people do not use the kitchen for cooking. They are going outside page 6 of 18


and cook above an open fire on the veranda. The veranda plays an important role in the African housing design, because mostly the inside space of a farm is only used for sleeping, that’s also the reason why there are nearly no windows. When I now transfer this knowledge to the design of an art centre, it helps to deal the shape and the relations of the different functions of the art centre. For example I know now, that the outside space should also be an important point in my design. It should be connected to the exhibition and the workshop area. It should not only be an open space without any use, it has to be a part of the design with an active function.

2.2 Finding shape for the Art Centre In my first sketches I oriented myself strongly on the shape of traditional African houses. I was clear, that I the art centre should develop not only from one building. Every function should have its own small building, like in African homes. In the first sketch the exhibition part is in the middle of the whole building and the other establishments are attached to it. The problem with this solution is, that the outdoor space can only be around this exhibition hall. It would be difficult to make it to an active part of the art centre. The next solution is still organized by the same shapes, but the constellation changed. The problem of the undefined outdoor space from the first sketch is now solved. The workshop rooms are arranged in a circle and so they form a closed outdoor area. But what I didn’t like in both sketches was the uniform shapes of the individual parts. They both only consist of circles, the traditional shape in Africa. I think it is important to get a connection between this traditional form and a modern solution, like it is well done in the contemporary African art. In this sketch I tried to play with different forms. The basic form of the building still comes from the circle, but it is cut and added with a rectangle. The useable outdoor space is here only between the rectangle and the two circle parts, but it doesn’t build a communicative space, because this is in my opinion a circle form. Another problem in this solution is the connection between the different parts of the building. For

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example it is difficult to reach the restrooms from the exhibition area. In this part of the design process I started to think about the connection between the rooms (workshop and exhibition) and the outdoor space. I would like to make it possible to open the rooms that the outdoor space can be made part of it. So the indoor space will activate the outdoor area. In this solution I positioned the exhibition hall again in the centre of the art centre. The other functions are arranged around this. In the middle of the exhibition hall can be an atrium which brings light also in the inner part of the circle. I also thought about the height and the form of the roof of the buildings. The exhibition hall should be the highest part so that it gets a good atmosphere. I was looking on the roof form of traditional African farms and tried to compare this with my design. I don’t want only to copy the cylindrical shape, but I think it is a good solution for this kind of buildings. And so I decided to build a flat roof which is inclined to one direction. To get a better three dimensional feeling for this idea I quickly build the model in a 3d-program.

In the first solution only the exhibition hall has an inclined roof. In the second, the secondary rooms also have inclined roofs in different directions.

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This solution based on the sketch before, but I tried to play more with different shapes. The exhibition hall is still in the centre of the design and it defines the character of the centre. With the shape and the arrangement of the surrounding buildings the outdoor area is also defined and it becomes a part of the art centre.

3 The Design 3.1 First 3-dimensional shape For the final design I decided that my last shape is the best solution for the Art Centre. It contains all my ideas from the analyze work. It has the exhibition part in the centre of the shape and it shows in that way the importance of this part. The surrounding buildings define an inner courtyard, which can be used also for exhibition, workshops and for the cafĂŠ. In the first 3-dimensional drawings I tried to find the right scale of the buildings and their arrangement, like the distance between each building. Like a mentioned before, I would like to make the buildings with different heights, which would describe the function and importance of the buildings. The exhibition hall should be the highest building, but it has an inclined roof, for the reason that it still fits into the whole shape of the Art Centre. The two semicircles with the workshop rooms, the shop and the cafĂŠ are the second highest buildings. The lowest buildings are the information and the toilet/storage houses, because they always used only a short time by the visitors and they do not need such high rooms.

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3.2 The dimensions of the building

The dimensions of each building orientate on two circles, which have a diameter of 25 m and 36 m. With the arrangement of the buildings it is created an inner courtyard with a largest measurement of 8,70 m.

3.3 The functions of the Art Centre

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3.4 Materials The materials of the Art Centre should reflect the location of it. Common materials in Africa are wood and brick. With these two materials I also want to show the difference of the buildings. The mainly used functions will be made out of wood, as the exhibition hall and the two semicircle buildings. The buildings with secondary functions, like the office and the toilets, are build with brick. The floor is also made of wood. It is a good solution for a floor material in warm regions, because it takes longer till it gets hot, and so you can better walk there without shoes or sit there. The floor is extended, also like the roof, to the middle of the building complex, that it defines a walkway around the different rooms. The floor of the exhibition hall is also extended 1,50 m to the outside. Between the exhibition hall and the surrounding buildings the ground is covered with white/gray gravel. This floor material difference is made to separate the functions. This gravel area can be used for an outside exhibition on the east side from the exhibition hall and on the west side it can be used by the cafÊ. Due to the different outside floor materials there is also a height difference from the wooden floor to the gravel ground from 10 cm. But this height difference is not only a conclusion of the difference of the materials; it should also underline the meaning of the floor changing. The facades of the two semicircle buildings, which are directed to the middle, are made of big glass windows and glass doors. Because of the overhanging roof the glass facade is not a big problem, because the sun can’t shine so much inside the rooms. The north facade of the exhibition hall is also mainly made of glass. The roof of this building is inclined to the south, so that the north facade is the biggest and the warm south the smallest one. On the basis of this favourable roof direction, it is the best page 11 of 18


condition to make a solar system on top of the roof. With the energy gained by the solar system the whole Art Centre can be powered. So the Centre is independent from outer influences in this case. The roof is also made of a common African material. It is a corrugated iron roof with a wood construction and insulation.

3.5 Elevations and Sections

north elevation – 1:200 The upper windows lead over the office and information building, so there can always come enough natural light inside the exhibition hall, but never direct sun, because of the north orientation.

west elevation – 1:200 Here you can see the difference in the heights of the buildings and the roof shape of the exhibition hall; with the inclined roof you can recognize from far away that there is something special.

section through the café, the exhibition hall and a workshop room

section through the storage and toilets, the exhibition hall and the office

section through the exhibition hall page 12 of 18


3.6 Perspective views from outside

View from the north to the main entrance of the Art Centre

View from east/south to the back of the Art Centre

A further solution for the roof, which is not shown in this model, is the idea of a temporary roof between the exhibition hall and the semicircle buildings. This roof should be made out of a textile membrane. It can be mechanical stretched from the circle building to the exhibition hall when it is needed. So when it rains there can be a water protection over the outside cafĂŠ and the outside exhibition.

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View from the south beside the storage inside to the inner courtyard

View from the north between the shop and the office building

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View from the west side on the veranda of the classroom to the toilet building

3.7 Perspective views from inside

Inside the office and information house page 15 of 18


Inside the exhibition hall – There you can see the flexible walls which can be moved and used as exhibition walls. The exterior walls of the exhibition building consist of a different kind of wooden wall. In each long wall are four wooden elements which can be taken away to have an open connection to the outside exhibition.

Inside one of the workshop rooms

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Inside the cafÊ – view to the kitchen and the bar

Inside the communication- / Classroom

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In the last three pictures you can see the idea of the interior design. With the big glass facade it should look like that the roof and the floor would flow from inside to outside – the boundary should blur away. The second important point in the interior design is the play with different wall colures. It is in contrast to the exhibition hall, where the wooden construction is also visible from inside. Every room of the semicircle buildings has his own special wall colour which should define the function of it. The effect of each colour plays in that way an important role. For example in the Classroom is used the colour green. Green is soothing, without tiring. Blue is calming and relaxing and it helps to relieve stress and hectic, that’s the reason why this colour is used in the café. In the workshop room is orange the wall colour, because it represents vital strength and activity.

4 Conclusion I think that the shape of the Art Centre brings many great possibilities for the using. Every room and function has a clear position in the whole arrangement. The more intimate workshop rooms are delimited by the exhibition hall from the more public shop and café part, but it is still an equal part of the whole complex. A problem for what I don’t know the right answer is the accessibility of the Art Centre. I am not sure if it is important to close the whole circle by a fence and to have only one entrance between the shop and the office / information building. But in this case a separate entrance to the café and the shop from outside would be needed, to open both not only for the visitors of the Art Centre. In my opinion I would open the Art Centre for everybody; this would be the most social solution. In this case the café could be opened in the night as a dancing and music meeting point for everybody. As well for this reason that music and dance is an important kind of art in Africa. And this would also help to make the Art Centre more popular.

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ART CENTRE... by Franziska Basel