The latest global LafargeHolcim Awards Silver winning project transformed a derelict mosque into a library that shares its site with a new mosque for the village of Dandaji in Niger. To turn their concept into reality, the architects Yasaman Esmaili and Mariam Kamara relied on a dedicated labor force of local masons, electrical- and metal-workers and technicians. “It was through the efforts and skill of our workforce that the project was successful – everyone involved should be proud of a job well done and the international recognition we received,” said the designers.
More than 80 of the project’s enthusiastic workforce met in the backyard of Atelier masōmī in Niamey, the capital of Niger. The space usually assigned to developing prototypes, researching and testing building materials familiar to many of the workers became the setting for a very personal LafargeHolcim Awards prize celebration. Mariam Kamara, project co-author and Founder of Atelier masōmī, thanked the team of artisans and explained that in winning an international Award, their work was a source of pride far beyond the borders of the country. “The LafargeHolcim Awards prize had a tremendously positive impact on how our local heritage, our culture, our building tradition and our skilled workforce is perceived,” she said.
Each member of the construction team was individually presented with a memento from the LafargeHolcim Foundation: an LED squeeze flashlight that generates its own electricity supply by repeatedly squeezing a handle to drive a dynamo. Symbolically brought to life in the hands of each artisan, the torches were inscribed with a simple message “Merci!” Although co-author Yasaman Esmaili, Founder of studio chahar, wasn’t able to attend in person, geography was no barrier to her conveying special thanks – she became a “digital VIP” and congratulated each and every worker via FaceTime as they were presented with their memento.
The completed prize winning cultural and educational hub cultivates the peaceful coexistence of secular and religious life to strengthen the community. The project was praised by the Global LafargeHolcim Awards jury for its strategic promotion of local artisanship, traditional building techniques, and materials produced in situ. The jury noted that the project’s understanding of architecture moves away from high-tech solutions in sustainability, often including new explorations of time-honored materials and fabrication methods.