The village of Sangha lies in the heart of the UNESCO World Heritage area in the Dogon area in Mali. Therefore it places specific demands on building a large school. The diverse educational program that will be offered in the practical training college is the first of its kind in Mali. Students will be specifically trained to be a mason, farmer, beekeeper, cook, electrician or installer of water pumps.
The building site of six hectares is located on a rocky plateau next to the ancient neighbourhoods of Ogol Dah and Ogol Leh. The challenge was to create a design which would fit to these requirements in terms of mass, volume and area whilst simultaneously forming a meaningful place. Thus explaining why the school is conceived as a whole new neighbourhood. The ‘families’ of classrooms and workplaces, homes and offices are centred around a meeting place. The garden hill of the neighbourhood will be defined by the edges of the collective agricultural islands surrounding the school. 13 classrooms, 4 workshops, 10 teachers houses and administrative rooms are explicitly created as individual elements; therefore mirroring this the tradition in which the yard consists of the Ginna (family house), women’s living quarters and the granary barns. The volumes stand next to each other and are defined with walls of chopped stone. Walls and ceilings are made by Hydraulic Compressed Earth Blocks (HCEB) which are produced on site.
The chosen design strategy provides maximum flexibility for the future at a large but also small scale. It is possible for the design to adapt to changes during construction; allowing for it to grow so that a new generation of masons are able to increase their influence.