New School Learning – University Design for Gambia by Snohetta.

This is not the typical boring un-inspiring educational blocks we see in most higher institions in Nigeria. Of course, with the exception of a diverse number of well thought out complexes in Obafemi Awolowo University and the University of Lagos, which sadly enough, have been sorely maintained. This New University in Gambia, designed by Snohetta is a breath of fresh air. Air so fresh, I’d love to breath it in Nigeria. Most Universities (at least the ones I know) are a combination of different buildings, with buildings having similar functions carrying the same look; contrary to the approach taken here. I like that while there are little variations, they all still look thesame giving the Campus a strong, energetic and unifying character that it will be known for in years to come. It is new, it is different and it will utmostly be inspiring to the students.

 

Planned to set a new standard in the Gambia, the master plan of the university was designed with flexibiltiy in mind. It adopted modular faculty building that could easily be adapted to different educational uses, using the European standard to calculate the number of square meter per student as well as the costing of the campus. New urban developments for student housing and other functions were located at the boundary of the campus.

 

 

Analysing the traditional Gambian Settlements and landscape, Snohetta discovered three main elements which they used to develop the design of the masterplan. These were “the green structure, the African fractal as components for the faculty buildings and the outdoor meeting places set in a hierarchy through “Bantabas”, “compounds” and atriums.” The design was to relocate and unite 3 of Gambia’s existing higher institutions and one university into a single campus for 15000 students. They also wanted the project to set new sustainable standards, having them incorporate a solar park for power generation, a waste management center and a locally created water harvesting system.

 

 

I would happily go back to school for this.

 

Here is an interesting video showing how the campus was planned.

 

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