In rural Niger, markets run on a weekly basis, allowing sellers to move from village to village all week long to offer their products. With a rapidly increasing population, the village Dandaji felt a need for a more permanent market for its own inhabitants to both procure and sell goods in a more consistant way. The current weekly market is organized around an ancestral tree that has become the public space to be during Market Day for market-goers and sellers.
The new project stays on the same site and amplifies an experience the village inhabitants have come to count on. A main goal of the project is to create a space that projects a sense of confidence and aspirations for the future in the users themselves. The project design references the area’s traditional market architecture of adobe posts and reed roofs, pushing the typology forward using compressed earth bricks and metal for durability. It results in an infrastructure that is visually appealing, that the users can be proud of, and that has the potential of consequently attracting more commerce to the area.
The design of the project is kept very simple, using a colorful recycled metal canopy produced through a succession of individual shading structures that compensate for the difficulty in growing trees in such an arid, desert climate. The difference in level of the various discs promotes natural ventilation while precipitating hot air up to the top discs. It thus provides solar and thermal protection to the vending spaces underneath. The result is a whimsical world that complements the colorful goods on display, while protecting patrons from the scorching sun.
Furthermore The project uses a new material (Compressed Earth Bricks or CEB) in a region where one either uses cement or adobe. The first is too costly and increases ambient heat, while the latter is negatively impacted by the strong rainy season. Using CEBs offers an excellent method for integrating earth- based construction with the contemporary demands of the construction industry, while maintaining the thermal advantages associated with adobe for a climate as hot and arid as Niger’s.
The market is laid out to progressively step down to the old tree, the surroundings of which are formalized to become a real public space with seating and rest spaces for all to gather around. It was important for us to make it a focal point to signal that we acknowledge its importance, to protect it going forward, but also to provide a way for people to enjoy its presence fully. Walking along the shaded lanes, one experiences the simplicity of the compressed-earth brick stalls that contribute to the cooling of the space, while the alternating heights of the shading structures helps the air flow throughout.
Status: Completed 2018
Location: Dandaji, Niger.
Site: 7530 m²
Lead Architect: Mariam Kamara
Design Team: Mariam Kamara, Harouna Diallo