This villa in Senegal is the perfect example of sustainable architecture
The land has a standard size, approximately 300 m2 embedded in a dense urban fabric. Luckily, the part where it is located is quiet: a field of wild mangoes that inhabit the coastal city of Ngaparou, Senegal. Villa Aram was commissioned by photographer and model Malick Bodian. The architect, Cyrus Ardalan, wanted to introduce a minimalist aesthetic and an optimal design to respond to the needs of a family. To achieve this, the Frenchman was inspired by Senegalese vernacular architecture, prioritizing local materials and craftsmanship made in the area. “The starting point was a colony of houses in Casamance –a region in the south of the country–, which follow the style rain Roman and Greek, with a radial plan and a tree that grows in the center, in the inner courtyard. I gave it a more contemporary air, using the work of Glenn Murcutt as a reference. In truth, Australians are unique when it comes to erecting structures responsibly, dispensing with elements that consume a lot of energy such as air conditioning“, dice Cyrus.
Smart solutions to be more efficient
The sun hits hard between the tropics and the equator, especially on the east and west wings. For this reason, it was essential to cover the sides and take advantage of the light – the house faces north and south – something that was achieved with the shape of the roof, which protrudes everywhere. This is like a metallic ‘pancake’ (quite a modern twist on the traditional design) and is ventilated through tiny pores that let air through, preventing it from heating up in the high temperatures. The façade opens and closes completely, covered with windows that were cut on site. Thanks to this system, the house remains cool and ventilated without the need for additional devices. Also, absolutely nothing was imported. Even the earth, which was mined some 50 miles away, was compressed by hand.
Each and every one of the elements of this sustainable architecture, from the triple-layer glass to the stainless steel gutters, were designed by the architect himself and manufactured in workshops in the region. “This craft is part of some ideals that have been put into practice both on the walls and in the furniture. Bookcases, chairs, loungers, coffee tables, wall lamps… everything has been done to this for this space, by artisans just a few minutes from here”, says Ardalan. The oblong doors, porthole-style but elongated, as well as the skirting boards and metal gutters complement the earth and endogenous solid wood (the dimbcollected in sustainable forests), creating a universe of contrasts. The floors are made of tiles made with the trencadis technique., mixing the pieces with terracotta. The tiles, broken and joined again with raw earth, were glazed with linseed oil, which protects them and makes the red tone stand out even more. The adobe walls were also varnished with a natural glaze that makes them waterproof.