portes et passages du retour


In 2007, The American Institute of Architects awarded a grant to Portes et Passages in association with the University of Michigan, enabling us to erect the first building on our land. Nubian vault, an ancient environmentally–friendly architectural style is entirely formed using adobe bricks without the need of timber or imported sheet metal roofing. This type of affordable and sustainable architecture has been promoted throughout West Africa by the Burkina Faso-based association, La Voute Nubienne. Working in close association with the architecture dept. of University of Michigan, Portes et Passages chose to contract La Voute Nubienne in 2008, which sent 7 trained workers from Burkina Faso, and engaged 30 local apprentices to learn the method, here in Senegal. The building was completed on June, 2008. Three days after completion, the building collapsed. No formal evaluation of cause has ever been made, however our experts and research have estimated that the cause was due to LVN’s lack of familiarity with the particular earth used. The earth is black and contains a large amount of clay, which creates extreme degrees of expansion and contraction in relation to water. The foundation was also most likely not deep enough, there was inadequate drying time given to bricks and finally, the walls of the first level were not sufficiently thick to contain the weight of the walls of the second level.

en francais / design Anne Merlin