Youth Center in Niafourang
Youth Center in Niafourang – Description from Project Niafourang.
The population of Niafourang is approximately 300 inhabitants. The village is very poor and people generally live hand to mouth. Locals harvest rice from fields and fish from the river. The region is lush with vegetation due to its tropical climate. There is a high unemployment rate and many young people leave Niafourang to find work elsewhere.
December 2010 three architecture students from NTNU teamed up with Hilde-Huus Hansen to create a Youth Center. Hilde leads a non-profit organisation; Friends of Niafourang, that works to improve conditions for local youth and create job opportunities in the village. Their task was to create a Youth Center in Niafourang that would include a computer room/library and a larger multi- purpose room. The intention was to create opportunities, jobs and development in the village. An important aspect of the project was to involve the local community in both the building and planning stages, in order to create a sense of ownership and pride in the resulting building.
Building started shortly after arrival and lasted ten weeks. There is no electricity in the village so apart from the use of a battery powered drill, no electrical devices where used. There was great enthusiasm surrounding the project and the entire village partook in volunteer work.
The walls are built using blocks of compressed sand and a small amount of cement. The blocks were hand- pressed using a local machine with sand shovelled from a nearby ditch. Windows are positioned low on the walls with deep frames, so they can be used to sit in. Steel brackets were custom welded in a nearby village and hold the roof construction. The corrugated aluminium roof juts out beyond the walls to prevent rain from entering the building and creates shady areas to relax. The entire roof is lifted to allow air to pass through.
Underneath the protruding roof, a concrete belt surrounds the building creating a shady platform. The roof extends to include a second floor outside the walls of the multi-purpose room. The second floor is accessible by an outdoor ladder and functions as an extension of the library/computer room or the multi-purpose room. Angled wood planks serve as blinds, preventing both rain and direct sunlight.
The Youth Center is in active use and recently played a central role as a venue in the first village music festival.