Designs unveiled for first presidential centre for female head of state

Niger architect Atelier Masōmī has revealed its design for the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Presidential Centre for Women and Development in Monrovia, Liberia.

Atelier Masōmī will be part of an all-woman design team that includes Sumayya Vally of South African practice Counterspace as exhibitions architect and Karen Richards Barnes as local architect. The centre commemorates the president of Liberia from 2006 to 2018, the first female head of state in Africa.

The project’s design, the first of its kind for a female head of state, will have the style of exaggerated slanted roof seen in traditional palava huts, which will improve the centre’s natural ventilation. It will also use local materials such as raw earth bricks, fired clay bricks, rubber wood and woven palm leaves, all created by local builders, manufacturers and craftswomen.

When complete, the centre will contain conference rooms, exhibition areas, a café, library and workshop spaces.

The buildings will be aerated by courtyards that serve as spaces for workshop programmes and public gatherings.

Mariam Issoufou Kamara, the lead architect on the scheme, said: “The design is a direct response to the history, climate, cultural and architectural heritage of Liberia.”

She added that it was also “an introspection on the challenges faced and on the strength and hope brought about by inspirational leaders such as Madam Sirleaf”.

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