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Thu Jan 13, 2022, 05:05 PM

Tented love: how Senegal created a spectacular new African architecture

Visiting the International Fair of Dakar is like taking a stroll through the ruins of some ancient Toblerone-worshipping civilisation. A cluster of triangular pavilions rises from a podium, each clad in a rich pattern of seashells and pebbles. These are reached by triangular steps that lead past triangular plant pots to momentous triangular entranceways. All around, great hangar-like sheds extend into the distance, ventilated by triangular windows and topped with serrated triangular roofs. All that’s missing is triangular honey from triangular bees.

Built on the outskirts of the Senegalese capital as a showcase for global trade in 1974, this astonishing city-sized hymn to the three-sided shape was designed by young French architects Jean Francois Lamoureux, Jean-Louis Marin and Fernand Bonamy. Their obsessive geometrical composition was an attempt to answer the call of Senegal’s first president, the poet Léopold Sédar Senghor, for a national style that he curiously termed “asymmetrical parallelism”.

After the country gained independence from France in 1960, Senghor was determined to use the arts to forge a new national identity, liberated from western tradition and drawing from African civilisation, particularly Sudano-Sahelian traditions, “without wavering from the requirements of modernity”. Senghor never quite defined what this brave new style should look like, but he spoke vaguely of “a diversified repetition of rhythm in time and space”. Forceful, faceted forms and strong, rhythmic geometries became the vogue.

Dakar is home to numerous structures that attempt to meet Senghor’s ambitions. The international fair complex is the most spectacular, its composition loosely nodding towards a nomadic desert settlement of tent-like forms, dotted with everything from animal horns and shells to clay pipes and gnarled volcanic rocks. It is in a sorry state, although a Getty-funded conservation project is currently under way, and it is still possible to see how it attempted to forge a bold new path, combining modern techniques with indigenous traditions, creating an expressive, sculptural language rooted in its context.

https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2022/jan/13/tented-love-senegal-spectacular-new-african-architecture-dakar-tent
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Maybe we need a thread in Arts and Humanities for Architecture?

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Reply Tented love: how Senegal created a spectacular new African architecture (Original post)
Jilly_in_VA Thursday OP
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Response to Jilly_in_VA (Original post)

Thu Jan 13, 2022, 05:27 PM

1. that bus is cool!

reminds me of the 60's

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Response to Jilly_in_VA (Original post)

Thu Jan 13, 2022, 05:36 PM

2. Thanks for this

Fascinating - rec

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Response to Jilly_in_VA (Original post)

Thu Jan 13, 2022, 05:36 PM

3. Thanks for this

Fascinating - rec

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Response to Jilly_in_VA (Original post)

Thu Jan 13, 2022, 05:50 PM

4. How interesting, and cool. And Yes to an Architecture Group

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