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Sacred Space in Senegal (2nd place in the International Architecture Competition Kaira Looro, headed by Kengo Kuma)

Tanaf , Senegal
Authors: arch. Maria Tîlvescu – autor, arch. Hadrian Stoian – coautor / Center Oculus

Authors’ Comment

The challenge of this project was to design a sustainable and culturally-driven architecture, for a place with a lack of materials and with low technology. Also, it had to be a sacred space destined to all religions present in Senegal.
The sacred space that we designed is created around the concept of peace, protection and discovering the inner landscape.
The volume is a 9 meter wide cube. It doesn't reveal itself as a cube from the public square near the sit: the solid block of clay reveals only its cracked texture and seems to be patiently waiting for us to discover it.
Having been completely built by hand, the space becomes infused with human beings' energy, thus forming a permanent connection between the fingerprint of divinity -the light - and the fingerprints of man- gently submerged in clay.
A descent below the ground level foregoes the access in the volume: it is a symbolic descent, reminding of the burial ritual. At the opposite pole, the interior is a metaphor of birth.
The light purges the space by entering through a circular oculus in the ceiling. It also has a correspondent on the floor: a circle of pure soil.
A vertical axis connects the two: a circle of earth and one of light, like a link between the earthly and the sacred.