Welcome to the First Look at the Literacy Center!
Designed by Steve Blackburn and Dedy Rusli at Barker Rinker Seacat Architecture in Denver, CO, this rendering of the literacy center combines innovation with ease of construction, phaseability, and community orientation. Our goal with the design of the literacy center building is to create a space that is both functional and inviting, and one that can be easily constructed using the materials available in Asisiriwa. These materials include concrete blocks (or concrete masonry units), clay, corrugated metal, pottery, and some steel rods.
The building is divided into three components: a small, square building for the library; an almost identically-constructed building for the writing center and classroom; and an open amphitheater-style space connecting them to serve as a community and performance space.
One of the most important things we needed to think about when designing a building in Ghana is airflow. Because we will not be able to rely on electricity to power fans or air conditioning, we needed to design with the natural movement of air in mind. To do this, Steve and Dedy envisioned a floating roof inspired by this TED talk. By creating a flat “roof” punctured by clay jars or pots to allow light and air movement, created either by concrete or corrugated metal covered by clay, they ensured ease of construction on the buildings themselves, as well as an anchoring point for the most dramatic and recognizable feature of the center: the floating roof.
Although the floating roof is designed to be constructed out of corrugated metal — the most ubiquitous roofing material in Ghana — its elevation allows it to remain cool by not trapping hot air beneath it. Its angled pitch ensures both correct drainage of moisture into the rock garden rerouting water runoff, as well as a hot air escape route. It also features fiberglass sunlights above the clay jar cut-outs on the flat roof to allow for natural light inside the buildings.
Here are a couple cool design features you can find in the photo gallery below:
- This design preserves the existing trees and root systems so that we can build without being invasive to the existing ecosystems.
- The floating roof is also designed to look like a stylized page in a book falling open.
- The outer walls of the buildings are scratched vertically to recall pages of closed books.
- The windows are designed vertically (eventually with jalousie louver blade windowpanes) to look like the spines of shelved books.
- The writing center building features a sliding barn door that opens to the community space, and that can be equipped with a blackboard for further space adaptability.
- By using local materials and uncomplicated structural concepts, this design allows us to spend less time and money on construction and more time providing important literacy resources to the people of Asisiriwa, in line with our vision.
Check out our photo gallery and video rendering below, and please spread the word about this important cause!