Architecture students from Düsseldorf build houses in Senegal |

From a slum in Dakar is the new neighborhood "La Baraka". Nine architecture students from the University of Düsseldorf designed the houses.

It was already an "unusual task, so early in the study" for the nine architecture students of the University of Düsseldorf: for the district "La Baraka" in Senegal, they should design houses allowing about 1,400 people from a slum to live there.

Slums should be dissolved

Indeed, the slum in which refugees from many West African countries live should be dissolved and resettled on the outskirts of the city. Fear in Unesco, which has been occupied for years "La Baraka" in Dakar: that refugees flee to other countries of Europe. It was then that the idea of ​​building a new city on the slum property was born. The project is supported by UNESCO's special ambassador and founder of the YOU Foundation – Education for Children in Need, Ute-Henriette Ohoven. She is also Honorary Consul of Senegal. She managed to convince Senegalese President Maki Sall that the property was not for sale.

At the same time, Ohoven came in search of architects in 2015 from the German Architects Association (BDA). BDA Düsseldorf then launched a competition under the direction of Bruno Braun. This is how Jochen Schuster, professor at the Peter Berends School of Arts (PBSA), was impressed at the University of Applied Sciences of Düsseldorf.

120 students participated in the call for tenders

Around 120 students attended the competition and nine laureates finally emerged from this urbanism competition organized by the University of Applied Sciences Düsseldorf. But it was the starting point for young people. In 2016, they went to Dakar for the first time. All steps for obtaining a building permit have been reviewed and a "master plan" has been developed, said Braun. Back in Düsseldorf, students continued working on the plans and prepared them for approval.

But not only the authorities and the bureaucracy were almost new to the students. Instead, they had to get used to the culture and life of the local people. Because they wanted to "definitely do something good for them," says Jens Lawrinowycz. Until now, the huts have been kept to a minimum, there were only three water points and the sanitary facilities were not available.

For new apartments, however, six square meters per person are available, each apartment has a shower, toilet and a kitchen. A family of ten has a 60 square meter apartment. It seems little, but in this country is also the "standard for apartments for refugees," said Braun. Dividing the apartments also had a lot to consider. For example, boys and girls in the country under Muslim influence are not allowed to sleep in a room.

Places of communication created

In addition to the YOU Foundation, the project is financially supported by Egyptian investor Samih Sawiris and his company Orascom. According to Braun, the project cost about four million euros. Although residents own the apartments and pay only the nominal price, the Sawiris investor gets only a marginal portion of the property. He can install real estate himself, says Braun.

But not only did the design of the apartments challenge the students. In addition, "the socio-economic aspect" had to be taken into account, as well as the student Gina Böhmer. Because the houses extend over several floors in height. However, people were used to a life "side by side, side by side". It is therefore all the more important to create "places of communication", explains Bruno Braun. This was done by "Hofbildungen". At the same time, people always have the opportunity to build workshops or stands.

On-site community meeting

To better understand life in Senegal, students looked for presentations during their two visits. There was also a public meeting. The response to the project has always been positive, sums up the student Till Grützner. "People often said," We also want to live like this. " By, "meant the Senegalese.

And soon it will be the case for slum dwellers: the first phase of construction for 700 inhabitants is almost complete. The second phase of construction will be completed next year. And the conclusion of Professor Schuster? "It's important for students to see that as an architect they can make a difference." At the same time, the project has an impact on students' thinking and their vision of refugees.

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