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Burkina Faso Bell Towers

The work we did in Burkina Faso, a country that remembers its colonial past, looked at the relationship between the form and philosophy of indigenous and global societies... via building method.

By F2A member Austin Hawkins, in collaboration with the French NGO Association de la Voute Nubienne(AVN)

Work » Aid Work

Burkina Faso Bell Towers

Burkina Faso has a long history of banco, or mud brick construction. At one time, bricks were hand-moulded into cylinders and stacked in thick walls, roofed with wooden beams and straw. Burkinabe buildings were soft-edged or round. French colonists introduced rectilinear bricks and global trade brought corrugated steel: expensive, fragile, and poorly suited for arid climates.

By F2A member Austin Hawkins, in collaboration with the French NGO Association de la Voute Nubienne(AVN)

Work » Aid Work

Burkina Faso Bell Towers

French NGO, Association de la Voute Nubienne (AVN) works to counteract the degradation of dwelling quality and local economies by introducing a standardized technique of nubian vault construction to rural communities. AVN has trained hundreds of masons to build these comfortable dwellings made entirely of local material.

By F2A member Austin Hawkins, in collaboration with the French NGO Association de la Voute Nubienne(AVN)

Work » Aid Work

Burkina Faso Bell Towers

AVN entrusted us with the design and construction of its first three-story vaulted structure, a demonstration of the possibilities of this simple technique in a trafficked public square.

By F2A member Austin Hawkins, in collaboration with the French NGO Association de la Voute Nubienne(AVN)

Work » Aid Work

Burkina Faso Bell Towers

This 18m tall bell-tower required no steel or wood in its construction. Built along a main highway, this rectilinear religious symbol represents the growing strength of the post-colonial culture. The work of AVN has made a truly remarkable and wholly positive impact on the Burkinabe society.

The experience we gained in this collaborative project has inspired our work at f2a.

By F2A member Austin Hawkins, in collaboration with the French NGO Association de la Voute Nubienne(AVN)

Work » Aid Work

Burkina Faso Bell Towers

With experience building vaults, we then began to experiment with other geometries based on the AVN technique. These experiments brought us far out into the bush and into Burkinabe culture.

By F2A member Austin Hawkins, in collaboration with the French NGO Association de la Voute Nubienne(AVN)

Work » Aid Work

Burkina Faso Bell Towers

This spiral brick dome, paralleled the subsistence farmers' rhythms: the cycle of the sun and the cycle of human spirits entering and exiting the body of earth. The village shaman called on these very spirits, spilling the blood of three white chickens in a circle of millet flour before we began construction of the temple.

By F2A member Austin Hawkins, in collaboration with the French NGO Association de la Voute Nubienne(AVN)

Work » Aid Work

Burkina Faso Bell Towers

We fabricated a form-tracing machine from bike parts and together built a temple to the animist and muslim spirit of the village.

By F2A member Austin Hawkins, in collaboration with the French NGO Association de la Voute Nubienne(AVN)

Work » Aid Work

Burkina Faso Bell Towers

Out of our work came friendship, knowledge, and further mystery.

By F2A member Austin Hawkins, in collaboration with the French NGO Association de la Voute Nubienne(AVN)

Work » Aid Work

Burkina Faso Bell Towers

This precisely geometric architecture sketches in catenary brick the pre-colonial, grass-roofed dwelling. Rather than a functional prescription, we think of this temple as an artistic installation and an experiment, which we hoped would connect us to each other and to the Burkinabe landscape, a place through which we curiously wandered.

By F2A member Austin Hawkins, in collaboration with the French NGO Association de la Voute Nubienne(AVN)