Born from the imagination of 9-year-old Jamie Rowland (son of Richard Rowland, co-founder of Atelier Koé), the word koé refers to a peaceful state of mind where balance exists between man and nature. Atelier Koé strongly believes in this philosophy and specialises in the conception and realisation of resilient and respectful projects.
When self-taught architect and designer Richard Rowland relocated to Africa to live in the Senegalese community of Ngaparou, he found inspiration in the rich landscape of the new country. In an effort to create a simple, healthy living environment in harmony with its natural surroundings and with a minimal environmental impact, Keur Leah was built.
Making use of the clay-rich soil around them, the team experimented with rammed earth, building the home room by room. Now, the house consists of two wings: one contains the children’s room, master bedroom, bath, living area and kitchen, and, separated by a shaded outdoor corridor and a natural swimming pool, the other comprises a guest bedroom and a work area.
This was where Rowland first discovered the remarkable qualities of earth walls and has since only built sustainable homes with Atelier Koé.
The hardest part of this project was finding a way to build and live in a remote area of the Senegalese bush where a young client from Dakar wanted to settle. Despite this challenge, Atelier Koé designed a spacious residence built entirely with stabilised earth bricks and air conditioned by a 12m wind tower.
More than a relaxing escape from the city, the site was also designed as a working farm, where livestock and agriculture thrive on the land. This natural vista emerges through the large arched doors, and the windows of the villa offer delightful views of the stables and chicken coop.
The architecture, inspired by the site and its surrounding terrain, has brought the land to life. As both villa and farm, Al Hamra functions in its beauty and purpose.
More intimate than the larger-than-life Al Hamra home, Khamsa House is a 2-bedroom abode on the coast of Senegal that's no less luxurious. The principal building and its outside structures were built with stabilised earth bricks that used the clay-rich soil dug directly on site, and were constructed with regard for the surrounding natural environment.
The house makes use of its surrounding vistas by opening onto a pond and natural swimming pool, and also enjoys a view of the sea. Inspired by the Khamsa symbol – an amulet charged with warding off the evil eye and protecting its owner – the building features oval cutouts through which to view the outside world.
The entire project is environmentally friendly and off the grid, using a hybrid-energy system of solar panels and a wind turbine.
The Océanium Foundation – a Senegalese organisation dedicated to protecting the local environment – asked Atelier Koé to redesign and build its headquarters in Dakar. This project, a collaborative match made in heaven, led to the idea of a mixed-use site in which to combine the business premises with a clubhouse overlooking the ocean in Dakar's Corniche area.
The monumental building is anchored to the hillside and offers a welcoming and convivial lower floor with a relaxing view, while the two upper floors house the foundation’s administrative offices. Large openings allow natural light into each expanse and promote natural cooling through the circulation of sea air from East to West.
The entire project, still under construction, is conceived as a tribute to the environment – perfect for Atelier Koé.
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