Client: private (Koidu Limited)
Category: Commercial / Residential
Location: Sierra Leone
Architect: Collis and Associates
This project entailed creating a range of buildings at a variety of scales and typologies from small service buildings to large workshops, a clinic, houses and mine community facilities at a mine near the Guinean border. Generally, mining infrastructure is erected fast with little thought given to the environment, the life cycle of buildings or the community affected.
Given the limited access to building materials and poor transport infrastructure, the client had assumed that everything would have to be trucked to site over shocking roads. They initially envisaged steel, portal-framed structures with sheet cladding. It was proposed that most components being source from South Africa, shipped to Freetown and then trucked 12-hours to the site and assembled by South Africans.
Following resource mapping, an alternative construction technology was proposed, which would provide a more sustainable solution. This proposal aimed to minimise material importation, maximise local materials and labour and make use renewable resources or recycled mine waste wherever possible. Steel portal-framed building plans were redesigned to be regionally specific appropriate buildings.
Local buildings were studied to understand a vernacular response to the climate. Sustainable solutions reduced both the cost of building and construction time and significantly reduced reliance on a remote supplier network. Labour and materials were sourced locally. Treated pine, sustainably grown, was used for roofs and windows where possible and large overhangs provide shelter from sun and rain.
Indoor/outdoor living was facilitated using enclosed courtyards and shaded verandas, and the use of natural ventilation and light were maximised. All buildings were designed so that, after the eventual closure of the mine, they would continue to be functional for the local community, rather than simply being abandoned.
A number of design constraints were imposed to allow the design to be completed within 12 months and the building process took 18 months. Smaller buildings were designed as masonry structures, while larger ones made use of reinforced concrete. The large workshop was constructed from 12m high reinforced concrete pre-cast tilt-up columns.