22.2.2022

Goehte Insitut Dakar

The German cultural exchange centre Goethe Institut e.V. has been active globally for more than 60 years. For its Dakar location, it commissioned the design of a purpose-built space from concept to construction for the first time in the institute’s history.

Being one of its main hubs in West Africa, the choice of Kéré Architecture is testament to the Goethe Institut Dakar’s wish to set an example of what cultural exchange looks like in the 21st century.

Visitors and employees alike are to be provided with a space that speaks to and is home to the layered and storied cultural tapestry of Senegal’s capital. One that is welcoming and versatile in speaking to the vast and complex history of cultural encounters and asking a diverse community to gather to define an inclusive and sustainable future.

The site of the Goethe-Institut Dakar sits within a residential area and lush garden. Kéré Architecture’s design responds to the need to be respectful to neighbours (including the Léopold Sédar Senghor Museum) and the natural environment, while also creating room for the many activities on offer, which range from exhibitions and language courses, to concerts and informal gatherings. It achieves this with a compact two-story building, shaped to mirror the outline of the canopy of trees that have long occupied the site. The structure itself serves as a shield that simultaneously protects the surrounding occupants from any potential noise and its own visitors from traffic sounds. A second translucent skin made from the same locally sourced BTC bricks as the structural walls ensures a light appearance.

Most of the public activities are located on the ground floor, including an auditorium, a cafeteria and the library, while administrative offices and classrooms are on the first floor. The rooftop is accessible, offering further space for interaction and echoing the garden below by way of tree- shaped pillars that hold up the roof covering the area. The architecture as a whole is committed to a sustainable approach that ensures that this newest addition to the cityscape leaves little footprints, besides the actual space it occupies.

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