School in Thionck-Essyl / DAW Arquitectos

  • Architect:DAW Arquitectos
  • Location:Thionck Essyl, Ziguinchor, Senegal
  • Date:2016-2018
  • Area:2 hectares (site)
  • Cost:202.500 €

School in Thionck-Essyl 

School in Thionck-Essyl – Description from DAW Arquitectos.


FUNCTION AND SYMBOLISM – Sitting on a publicly owned site measuring 2 hectares, near to the Casamance river that passes by the south of Thionck-Essyl, and in the presence of the large, majestic baobabs and enormous mangos in its immediate surroundings, the school is made up of a tidy ensemble of units (“awlas” in the language of the project) and spaces to meet and play. (See plant).

The design of the unit is heteronomous, melting into its surroundings. Then it takes us back to Catalonia with the upside down Gaudí style power cables. It is a concept which reminds you of the famous designer’s lines and shapes but is also set within the traditional backdrop of the area. Thus it is incorporated into local daily life, embracing the sensuality, fluidity and evolving nature of the region in the curvature of the building. The vault is built on a foundation of compressed earth blocks that were made on site or in the vicinity.

Courtesy of DAW Arquitectos.

Bringing together prime local materials, traditional building methods and contemporary construction techniques, we have achieved an efficient and sustainable kind of architecture.

The school boasts variety, sleekness and strength simultaneously. Quality and good design were the starting point for this architectural proposal.

From a symbolic point of view, the space suggests a preference for uniformity, communication and collective values. Consideration, learning, sharing, appreciation, talking and building together will be the fundamental values promoted by the project.

Courtesy of DAW Arquitectos.


  1. We are not doing it for Thionck-Essyl, we are doing it with Thionck-Essyl.
  2. The school represents the future for thousands of children who will be educated in the decades to come. We want to allow them access to a decent life.
  3. We are actively seeking a collaborative and co-efficient economy, working together to achieve development, and uphold both children’s and human rights alike.
  4. The project is driven by quality, above and beyond any appeal for charity.
Courtesy of DAW Arquitectos.


BETWEEN 2016 AND 2018 – Throughout the three years of the two phase project, an estimated total of 164 people from the community will have been directly involved in the construction of the school building. This shows the drive and achievement of different parties and reveals the range of auxiliary services provided, such as teaching and on-the-jobtraining.

Both the remuneration from the work done and the acquisition of the tools and building materials provided by local family businesses, are of benefit to the region’s local economy.

The local families who have taken in our volunteers receive a payment directly from the town hall to cover the costs of caring for them.

Courtesy of DAW Arquitectos.

FUTURE – In order to help the children of Thionck-Essyl stay local and improve their families’ financial situation, the educational resources will remain in the community and will drive local business forward.

The school generates a minimun of 30 new jobs from teachers to assistants.

The new school is a facility created both for knowledge acquisition and to educate the children, but at the same time it undoubtedly provides a space where the whole community can meet and socialise.

Courtesy of DAW Arquitectos.


Our motto “Building Futures” also implicitly highlights the financing of the project, an indispensable part of the urderstanding that we have to take from the experience of building by alternative means (materials, procedures, human resources, financial sources).

The final cost of the building project will have reached €202.500.

Courtesy of DAW Arquitectos.

A breakdown of cost by phase is available in the transparency report published at

Having completed and already financed phase 0 with the opening of the first unit (prototype) in June 2016, the organisation is currently raising funds to cover the rest of the project, which we have promised to deliver to the Thionck-Essyl community for October 2018.

At all times all of this information will be available to any person, legal or otherwise who, in participating in the project, wants to access the accounts, as well as any other information that they might request “ad personam”.

Courtesy of DAW Arquitectos.


Daw office is a young and dynamic architecture studio fully immersed in the most important professional discourse of our era (“architecture for whom and for what”) and in the cultural changes that are happening within the profession which are moving towards a collaborative economy, sustainability and ecoefficiency.

In order to sample these issues and to equip themselves with the necessary tools to deal with them, daw created Foundawtion in 2015. Foundawtion is a not-for-profit organisation driven to inspire and accomplish projects that meet the architectural needs stemming from real problems that people, communities and urban areas of economically disadvantaged regions face, in order to contribute to both their social transformation and development.

Courtesy of DAW Arquitectos.


‘Building futures’ is the expression of a group desire to produce a positive outcome through a collective, multifactorial and multidimensional learning experience. This is cemented in the actual school building in Africa but also refers to the real lives of all the protagonists, protectors and supporters of the project. It also eludes to the archetypal idea of planting and sowing for the future.

‘Building futures’ is also a sign and a setting that calls for collaboration for one of the noblest of causes on which humanism is based: to pass on knowledge, share values and teach by them.

Courtesy of DAW Arquitectos.


In order to gain new support for the cause we prefer you to have a conversation with someone who has lived through the project and who can inform you of the type of funding we ask for, how the resources that are entrusted to us are distributed and remind you how you can work with us. Do you want to fund the building of a classroom? The plumbing? The provision of a year’s worth of water for the works? A roof, two, three, all of them? The flooring? A desk? The laying of fifty, a hundred, two hundred, a thousand compressed earth blocks? We have very precise breakdowns of the costs of materials and installations available, which allows us to confirm exactly where your donation is headed in advance.

And of course you can also give the go ahead for us to use your money towards the work that we do ourselves, for which we can send you an itemised bill. In this case, you can send your donation to the following account:

ES09 0081 7011 1800 0285 1195



Courtesy of DAW Arquitectos.

We are encouraged that you are taking part in the challenge and we urge you to become an associate of the foundation with tailored monthly donations.

We want you at our side to help carry out our dream of building a great school in Africa.

And as we understand perfectly that you might need to tackle the “returns” aspect of your investment, we would like to highlight how the good deed that you are doing will come back to you or the organization you represent, by way of publicity and visibility.


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