Korkor’s Community Library
This community-build project was completed in 12 weeks by local workers using natural materials. The building consists of a large library hall and community room, each with separate access for after-hour functions. Korkor’s Community Library is the first of its kind in rural Ghana. It provides many new public functions, including a computer centre and web access for the school and broader community, adult literacy classes and health clinics. Korkor’s Community Library won an Award of Merit in the 2015 Lieutenant Governor’s Design Awards.
The site was chosen near the school and soccer pitch, church and main road to help define the village center. The simple form and natural materials give the building an immediate connection with the site and community. The structural rhythm of the buttressed rammed-earth walls and colourful window grills give a simultaneous sense of permanence and welcome.
Major design strategies included a flexible open plan with natural ventilation and generous glare free day lighting through the translucent clerestory. Rainwater collection provides water for library use. Large overhangs shade the building and outdoor gathering space, supporting the library’s new role as village hub.
Design constraints included limited access to electricity and water, a limited palette of materials, basic hand tools, and a 12-week construction schedule. The entire project budget, including labour and materials, was fund-raised by the project team.
Construction decisions prioritized environmental, social and economic sustainability of the library. The earth used in the walls came from within 100 metres of the site. The earth ramming was completed in 21 days with a crew of nine workers. The metal window grills were fabricated by a local craftsman whose workshop is metres from site. Woven grass sleeping mats were re-purposed as a ventilating, sound absorbing ceiling finish. School children clean the library interior daily, and outside sweep away the droppings of the ubiquitous free range goats.
Principals Keith Robertson and Jennifer Corson traveled to Ghana with their family to work with the local community to design and construct a space that truly serves the needs of the community.
The project is on going. Sanitation is a huge public health issue in this part of the world, with some of the highest rates of open defecation in Africa. In 2016 a team from Solterre went back to Abitenim and built two ventilation improved pit latrines to serve both the library and a school.
We are in close contact with our build teams in Ghana and are looking forward to the next project.
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