Developed to establish an exchange between local craftsmen, builders, architects, students and visitors, the Atelier Gando was initiated under the organization of Francis Kéré with the Accademia di Architettura di Mendrisio in Switzerland. The Atelier will function mainly as a center for sustainable construction technologies and research where indigenous building methods can be studied and innovated for contemporary applications. The project will also continue to support the ongoing building developments in the region by providing workshop space, temporary lodging for students and workers, and storage for tools and materials.
While communities from rural desert regions of Burkina Faso face many economic challenges, the Gando projects including the Atelier aim to create educational resources and job-training for the population in a country with a 20% literacy rate. Parallel to supporting education for Burkinabés, the Atelier also introduces a crucial component of architectural training for students from established western institutions such as the Accademia in Mendrisio. As a lesson in building for rural and impoverished areas, students are challenged to be resourceful with methods and building materials, working closely as a team and staying flexible according to difficult conditions on site. In creating an architectural education that addresses contemporary needs and realities, the workshops will also focus on communication and trust in addition to design.
The building itself is an example of this creative exchange of tradition and modernity, taking on a materiality and volumetric shape influenced by native earth-built settlements in the region. Reaching nearly 7 meters in height, the Atelier will be the tallest clay structure in Gando.