Dandaji Library is an adaptive reuse design in Niger. With a young population and over 3,000 people, the village of Dandaji has shifting needs, which the library addresses through flexible spaces while celebrating traditional architecture.
The theme of the EP Exhibit 2016 is It Takes a Community. Selected projects showcase the best work from young designers highlighting community impact and engagement.
Dandaji is a village in Northwest Niger. It boasts over 3,000 people and its population is extremely young, not unlike the rest of the country. The village provides its surrounding area with its only middle school and plans for a high school are currently underway. As such, Dandaji is a hub of education in this remote landscape, with children from over 5 other villages attending its schools. Another particularity of the village is its main mosque.
The adobe edifice was built by master mason El Hadji Falké Barmou, who won a 1986 Agha Khan Award recipient for a similar mosque in the town of Yamaa. The building has since fallen into disrepair, and plans to tear it down and build a bigger concrete one in its place were well underway. However, the village leaders have decided to fund its preservation provided it is put to a productive use: providing the village’s first library and literacy center.
The project will provide much needed reading and study spaces for the nearby elementary and middle schools. But aside from students, the building will also provide spaces for the village’s four women groups that are organized by neighborhood. They have expressed the desire for workshop areas where they can meet and acquire new skills that would empower them economically. Along with other village adults, they have also requested literacy classes that would also teach them basic math for accounting and commerce.
The program is thus the reflection of all of these community wants and needs. The building will be restored to its initial glory while technologically enhancing its earth finish material will lower its yearly maintenance needs. Its wall base will also be modified to protect it from water erosion over time. It will include book stacks and relaxed reading areas for children and adults alike. Because the students are typically organized in study groups by their teachers, the new library will offer generous spaces that accommodate various group sizes. Enclosed reading/workshop spaces are complemented with semi-covered outdoor ones for increased capacity.
To adapt the mosque to its new use, metal structures are introduced inside to form the book stacks, tables and chairs. Partitions are created by threading locally woven ropes and fabric through metal panels, which evoke the lattice quality of the wood decking above the ceiling’s reinforced abode dome ribs. Finally, a special reading and study area will be created in the form of a mezzanine under the building’s intricate domes, bringing users closer to their wonderful traditional architecture.