Natural learning

Located in Tanzania, the Amani library’s architecture provides different kinds of spaces and uses to promote a different approach to reading and learning, as an alternative to the typical frontal approach to lessons. Enclosed by thick earth walls and with access from the school, there is a multidisciplinary room for workshops meetings and lessons. The reading room is light and open with one of the façades connected to the verandah, creating a large space for recreation and movement.

The project is mainly constructed from using two materials: soil excavated from the site and locally collected wood. On-site production offered the possibility of employing local material and the same excavated soil for wall construction. The perimeter of the library is built with load-bearing walls using the rammed earth technique. Apart from its structural capacity, the earth regulates indoor humidity and temperature, saves energy and reduces environmental pollution. Also it is re-usable and saves expenses in material acquisition and transportation. Local handcraft can be found, among others, on the cypress doors and the bamboo enclosure at the verandah, as a way of promoting and strengthening the participation of local craftsmen, as well as raising awareness to the value of cultural heritage.

The construction of Amani Library was carried out in a short timeframe of four months through a workshop with both Kibaoni inhabitants and international participants. The workshop was regarded as a learning experience through an immersive, collaborative design-build project.

The approach carries a developmental character, acting as “seed”, as it seeks to form a knowledge base that can contribute to the potential return of traditional materials and techniques in solving the problem of low-cost housing in rural environments.

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