After carefully studying the conditions of the plot, I proposed locating the library among the Karité trees, where the women sit and sell food and the children lie down in the coolness of the shade. The alignment of the three Karité trees (Vitellaria Paradoxa) on one side, and a fourth one alongside two Neems (Azadirachta Indica) on the other, created a highly suggestive setting. The programme was developed in one single volume. The wall is made even thicker by constructing shelving on both sides of the room, to thus free up interior space, and placing the reading and consultation tables in the centre. The administration and storage spaces are separated by a wall that does not reach the ceiling.
The support frame is a mixed system combining load-bearing walls and pillars made of BTC (compressed earth brick), manufactured close to the site. These bricks are also used in the room’s ceiling, which is supported by stressed ø10mm rebars embedded in the reinforced concrete beams. The pitched upper roof keeps direct sunlight off the walls and swiftly evacuates rain water. The covering is with galvanised corrugated plates along the straight section, and translucent plastic corrugated plates in the central curved section.
The foundation promoting the project had a few dozen translucent polycarbonate windows stored in the village, from the dismantling of a veranda in Madrid. To make use of all the material, I sized the window modules on the façades and internal ceiling in-line with the measurements of the panels and with the manufacture the BTC bricks. In buildings with budgets as tight as in this one, the frames are usually metallic and simple, without any kind of glass, regulating interior lighting and ventilation with adjustable slats. Having many windows along the façade doesn’t automatically guarantee a good level of light inside. Indeed, the site’s demanding and changing climatic conditions, the amount of dust in the air, its warmth, storms with 45° rain, or the dropping temperatures in December (here, 25°C already gives you a sensation of coolness), show that the slats protecting the windows are partially or totally shut during great part of the year, implying the use of artificial lighting in the reading rooms even during the day.
Thus, the natural lighting —and the ventilation— is enhanced through openings which reuse the translucent, insulating polycarbonate sheets. The windows are set along the north and south façades, as well as in the ceiling, in the form of large practicable skylights, all of the same width. The natural light, passing first through the translucent plastic plates in the upper roof and then filtered through the polycarbonate sheets, makes the skylights look like large diffuse light fittings, ideal for reading. At sunset, when the artificial lighting is turned on, young students sit outside the library below the windows, taking advantage of the building’s lighting to do their homework.