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Alioune Diop University Teaching and Research Unit


IDOM, Bilbao, Spain

2019 Award Recipient - Alioune Diop University Teaching and Research Centre


“As buildings have a direct impact on climate change and the environment, the Alioune Diop University Lecture Building represents a commendable example of how fundamental principles of sustainability and energy efficiency are translated into a well-integrated and elegant design that also has a low impact on its surroundings.”

Alioune Diop University was founded in 2007 as part of the Senegalese government’s efforts to decentralize higher-education, seeking both to encourage youth to stay in rural areas, and to provide educational programs appropriate to these contexts. In 2012, an extension project was launched, of which this building formed the major part.

The structure comprises a 500-seat lecture hall, five 50-student classrooms, eight 100-student classrooms, three laboratories, ten lecturers’ offices and two meeting rooms. The architects combined all of these into a single mass with an identity and presence worthy of its university status – unlike the campus’s pre-existing small, scattered blocks. Its slanting roof was made of perforated breezeblocks and manufactured on site by local masons.

The lattice wall – echoing similar, smaller features on local buildings – is one of the strategies for passive cooling in a location where temperatures can exceed 40°C. A broad corridor separates this from the accommodations behind.

Each sub-unit has an insulated roof, while the heat-reflective metal outer roof runs the whole length of the building mass and extends out to form a giant loggia to the north, drawing hot air up and away. This loggia is supported by thin metal columns of a varying three-branched form, recalling the solitary trees in whose shade locals commonly gather. Other ecologically-minded measures include a series of stone-lined basins filled with gravel and vegetation, where both rainwater from the roof and filtered wastewater are directed.