It’s been 50 years since UN Declaration about the independence of African nations which was the end of the colonization and exploitation of the third world countries. Year 1960 was called Year of Africa. The conflict over water and land in Sudan has created political unrest for decades. However, in 2007, scientists from the Boston University discovered an underground lake in Darfur with a total area is 31,000 sqm. This new finding is in no way to be underestimated; people do not realize that the war in Darfur is actually caused by the lack of drinking water. With the help of this new water resource there will be enough water to end tensions in the region and reinvigorate the Sudanese economy. Geological and archaeological studies are being carried out to determine what most appropriate access to water is.
This discovery, along with the dramatic history of Sudan, inspired Polish architect Hugon Kowalski design a building of multi-function which is both an engineering facility and a symbol of the changes in Sudan. The project consists of three towers built over the underground lake. All three buildings have water tanks and piping, pumps and treatment plants beneath them. Also, each building will have a technical part underground and a habitable part over the ground. The water tank is located in the middle of the tower’s height. The pumped up water will enter into a piping system which in turn will provide water for the entire region. The water flow will be continuous, which will ensure constant water temperature of 6-11°C. The buildings will also shelter a hospital, school, food depots, youth clubs, and offices of international humanitarian organizations. The school and library will occupy 10 floors in one of the towers. This means 30 rooms for 1,000 students.
The design was inspired both by the shape of a water tower and the silhouette of the baobab tree – the symbol of the African savannah. The number of towers symbolizes the three cultural communities of Sudan – Christianity, Islam and Animism. The walls of the building will be made of pressed dried clay bricks made out of a raw mixture of soil, cement and water. Bricks will be baked in the scorching sun so there will be no additional energy required for the technological process and the environmental impact will be minimized. The choice of this technology reflects the need to implement alternative and balanced technologies in the context of standardized, but not always optimal construction solutions and the importance of importing materials from abroad.
This might be a romantic vision of the most effective approach to combine two major issues for local population – the need for water and the need for mutual understanding. In the architects words “This is how we want to create a place which will contribute to economic and social situation of the local population (fields watering) and which will make three cultures and religions come together. A place around which new villages – a new and better world would be established.”
Location: Darfur, Sudan
Design Team: Hugon Kowalski
Rendering: UGO Architecture and Design