Located in the sweltering heat of West Africa, the Falatow Jigiyaso Orphanage in Mali has no need for air-conditioning or artificial cooling thanks to a combination of natural ventilation and other smart building techniques. F8 Architecture established a set of key principles while designing the orphanage – Reduce solar gain, embrace natural ventilation and improve thermal mass. To this end, hollow “H”-shaped concrete blocks filled with banco (a mixture of mud and grain husks), were used to construct the walls. A second roof provides shelter from the sun by covering the bulk of the building and a terrace used for children’s activities on the first floor. Natural ventilation was achieved through a carefully planned layout and the addition of vent grills in each of the buildings.
The architects designed the project with photovoltaic panels and an on-site waste water treatment system that feeds into a pond used for fish farming. As Mali faces serious water issues, the water waste management system was a key feature of the project. After solid waste has been separated, the liquid passes through a bio-filter that uses anaerobic bacteria to purify the water. This purified water then flows into an open pond used for fish farming and overflow is used for agriculture. The system is so effective that it results in several harvests a year instead of just one. These features resulted in a building perfectly suited to its surroundings that gives children a chance to learn about gardening and fish farming.