In a remote village in Senegal, an ambitious project is underway that is expanding the concept of community for everyone involved. We invite you to join the project’s growing community by lending your support via Students for Senegal.
Currently in construction, the 4,000 square foot community library and learning center will soon support educational programs for Lambaye villagers of all ages. The project’s progress is thanks to a multi-group/trans-Atlantic collaborative effort. In addition to a pro bono design team at BKSK, key project team members include village leaders, local craftsmen and builders, an inspired (and inspiring) high school chemistry professor in Westchester County who is originally from Lambaye, and an energetic group of his current and former students working under the name “Students for Senegal,” who contribute fundraising muscle while also learning about cultures and issues of West Africa.
In addition to digitally sharing a variety of drawings, animations, and other project documentation, the diverse and geographically dispersed team has adopted several project-specific methods for communication. These include two physical workbooks for soliciting direct input from the community, which have proved invaluable in the development of the learning center. The first of these workbooks (available here) introduced the families of Lambaye to the aspirations of Students for Senegal, described the capacity of the BKSK-led design and construction team, and emphasized the role of local residents as partners in the project, in addition to soliciting their input. The second workbook (available here) was provided to residents almost a year later and served as a complement to a scale model, among other physical documentation of BKSK’s proposed design. This document requested specific responses to the project’s physical shape and layout while also welcoming broader feedback.
When completed, the center will feature a two-story reading room, a stage for performances, workshop and lecture spaces, a computer lab, a shop, and a flexible central courtyard. The building’s architecture and programming grew out of a rich dialogue with village leaders and education specialists working in the region. Design decisions have been made collectively, creating an economically sensitive center with a small environmental footprint. Key strategies supporting this goal are the use of photovoltaic panels for powering electronics such as ceiling fans and computers, a series of water collection points, intentionally flexible spaces that will adapt and grow with the village, a budget for beginning a maintenance fund (including the salary for a janitorial employee), revenue-generating cell phone charging stations, and a business plan for renting the space out for weddings and other private events.
International Federation of Library Association (IFLA), Green Library Award Finalist, 2020