united4design – Yasaman Esmaili, Elizabeth Golden, Mariam Kamara, Philip Straeter
Entreprise Salou Alpha & Fils
Niamey 2000 is a 1,700 sqm housing development, designed and realised by united4design, as a response to the current housing crisis occurring in Niamey, the capital of Niger. By increasing density, the project proposes a new model for urban housing.
Adopting local earth brick building technology the project also seeks to offer more culturally appropriate housing that is also more contemporary in its design and exceedingly more affordable, especially when compared to its concrete and mortar counter parts. This creates a housing model that is more accessible to a broader range of the city’s growing population.
In addition to the use of material, the project also makes use of passive cooling techniques to protect against Niger’s intense heat. Wind towers, and open air courtyard are two of the prominent features in the scheme as well as the use of screen walls that permits airflow and natural light without sacrificing privacy for the residents.
The design and configuration of Niamey 2000 draws inspiration from pre-colonial cities of the region, such as Timbuktu in Mali, Kano in Nigeria, or Zinder in Niger, which were all dense urban centres in their day. The cities’ organic configurations of intricately intertwined homes were often two or three stories in height, while still maintaining a sense of privacy and intimacy.
As Niamey continues to grow, and more foreign investors pledge funds for building public as well as private infrastructure, large-scale housing projects are on the horizon. A few, well-conceived projects in the capital – using local expertise and production methods – could set a valuable precedent for Niamey’s future.