Kaningo School, Freetown, Sierra Leone
Freetown has been a setting for ARCSR research study since 2008.
Research in the Lumley Valley investigating and cataloguing local materials, resulted in the production of a Freetown Construction Manual (2010). The process of constructing the Ivor Leigh Memorial and Preparatory school in the Lumley Valley revealed the deep social as well as physical problems encountered by poor Freetown communities. These included a sense of isolation from, and a lack of confidence in, engagement with the city.
We have been collaborating closely with Freetown and the Sierra Leonian NGO Community Empowerment Support Organisation (CESO), focused on the design and construction of a primary school building in the peri-urban settlement of Kaningo, Freetown. The school was completed in 2011.
ARCSR was invited by the British Council to participate in a summer exhibition as part of the International Architecture Showcase and London Architecture Festival 2012. An exhibition entitled “The Architecture of 3 Freetown Neighbourhoods” was held from August to September 2012. The exhibition showed photographs and measured drawings of three Freetown neighbourhoods set within their immediate topographical and historical city context. The presentation of early timber framed Krio Architecture of the downtown Tower Hill District included photographs taken in 2005 by Tim Hetherington and Sullivan Khallon, and measured drawings from a 2012 survey by students from the Cass Faculty of Art Architecture and Design. Also exhibited were surveys of the prefabricated timber colonial bungalows of Hill Station, which are perched high on an escarpment overlooking but not connected to Kaningo in the Lumley Valley where the new school was constructed.
By highlighting the cultural and environmental context within which these neighbourhoods continue to be formed, the exhibition aimed to give place meaning and a sense of identity to the growing populations of the newer neighbourhoods where the greatest change is currently taking place. By representing together examples of historically and culturally diverse but spatially adjacent architecture the exhibition sought to make explicit the rich architectural capital embodied within the thriving city of Freetown: a cultural resource for everyone.
Following a 4-year hiatus due to the Ebola outbreak (2014) and mudslides (2017), ARCSR returned to Freetown in 2018, and have established the opportunity for further live project work in collaboration with our long-term local NGO partner, CESO.