KÉRÉ ARCHITECTURE / BURKINA FASO: LOUISIANA CANOPY Taking cues from traditional architectural forms and practices from Francis Kéré’s home village in rural West Africa, this architectural installation 160 aims to highlight the importance of shading and sheltering as a form of protection from over-exposure to the sun as well as an inherent space-making device for community gathering. The design makes use of two major elements that are characteristic of Francis Kéré’s work: an overhanging ceiling component and an open communal gathering space underneath. The entire installation is made of debarked willow branches and logs originating from the Nordic context in which the installation is built. The bundled aesthetic of the design references the peculiar growth structure of an iconic tree that is indigenous to various parts of Africa, the great Baobab. Common in African as well as Nordic mythologies, the powerful symbol of the great tree is used as a bridge between two seemingly contrasting cultures. The articulated ceiling structure is dramatized by a programmed daylighting system that mimics the arc and movement of the sun throughout the day. The result is a slightly shifting shadow which indicates a loose boundary on the floor of the gallery. Just like the canopy of a great tree, the installation provides the most basic form of shelter from the elements while remaining open and accessible. The wooden terrain below the canopy provides informal seating where visitors can gather, reflect, and encounter each other in an intimate setting. The installation highlights the powerful ability of architecture to embody cultural narratives, traditions, and aspirations.
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