2017 Architect Magazine R+D Award
2016 AIA Seattle Award of Merit
united➃design - Yasaman Esmaili, Elizabeth Golden, AIA, Mariam Kamara, Philip Straeter
Entreprise Salou Alpha & Fils
Atelier de Technologie Metallique
© united➃design, credit: Torsten Seidel
Niamey 2000 is a 18,000 square foot (1,700 m2) housing development that is designed in response to the current housing crisis occurring in Niamey, the capital of Niger. By increasing density, the project proposes a new model for urban living.
The project takes its inspiration from pre-colonial cities of the region, such as Timbuktu in Mali, Kano in Nigeria, or Zinder in Niger, which were all dense urban centers in their day. The cities’ organic configurations of intricately intertwined homes were often two or three stories in height, while still maintaining a sense of privacy and intimacy.
The project takes a firm position on material selection by using unfired, earth masonry and passive cooling techniques to protect against Niger’s scorching temperatures. As is the case in many parts of the world, local materials have been increasingly abandoned in urban centers in favor of concrete. Niamey 2000 sets a valuable precedent in this regard by reintroducing locally derived resources to the construction industry and by offering affordable homes to a broader range of the city’s growing population.
Niamey 2000 proposes six single-family units on the same area as a conventional, single-family compound lot. An additional story reduces the building footprint, increasing the maximum number of dwellings on a typical plot. This strategy becomes increasingly relevant as the city expands and commuting distances lengthen.
The earth masonry also lends a sense of protection and comfort to the living spaces by slowing the transmission of sub-Saharan heat. As a result, the homes require nothing more than a simple fan to keep things cool, even during Niamey’s hottest days, when temperatures often reach well above 100 degrees Fahrenheit (40 C). Living spaces open out onto self-shading courtyards, which are cooled both by cross and stack ventilation.