320_Ali Hazem and Abdallah Kamhawi: Kaira Looro Peace Pavilion

Ali Hazem and Abdallah Kamhawi from Cairo, Egypt — “We are from Cairo, Egypt. Currently in our fourth year studying architecture at Ain Shams University and worked for 10 months in a small architecture firm in all phases of design, from concept development to the final presentation. We’ve been participating in Architecture competitions since our second year in. We’ve been in a total of five competitions, we received a director’s choice in WASTE MULTI-PURPOSE STADIUM international competition by Arch Out Loud and recently our proposal for the PEACE PAVILION BY KAIRA LOORO IS a finalist among the top 30 projects from more than 600 entries. And we are looking forward to our next challenge.”

Jury: Kengo Kuma and Associates, Agostino Ghirardelli, Diana Lopez Caramazana, Urko Sanchez, Toshiki Hirano, Noella Nibakuze, Jean Paul Sebuhayi Uwase

University: Ain Shams University

Instagram Username: @alihazemart; @abdallah_kamhawi

Project Name: Kaira Looro Peace Pavilion

DESIGN IDEA — Our goal was to use the light as a language to tell the history of the war and the journey to peace, and make the visitors not only see it but feel it. From darkness to light, from disruption to tranquility. TOWARD THE LIGHT pavilion features a long path that starts with an uncomfortable dim, tall and thin entrance to emulate the effect of war and gradually widen and shorten in height to eventually become a serene comfortable contemplation space that emulates peace and calmness. This feeling is also strengthened by the layering system of the wall and the roof, we used a denser multi layers of bamboo at the entrance that allow very little light to pass inside and fades away to a completely lit space at the end.

The pavilion is divided into three spaces sequentially, the SPREADING AWARENESS is the first space starting right after the entrance a dark geometrically uncomfortable space where the visitor will feel a sense of uneasiness and anxiousness, he will see pictures of the old war of Casamance and get a sense of the feelings that the people felt during the war. the spreading awareness space is a space where a seminar can be given, people will sit on the steps where they learn about the deadly history of the war and its wounds not only by their ears but rather by all their senses. Then the darkness starts unfolding a little leading to the EXHIBITION space where the artworks are framed inside the gaps created by the bamboo wall grid. Under the shower of light from the ceiling pictures and artworks can be hanged on special occasions. Then all of the darkness unfolds leading to a spacious space calm and full of sun light. The CONTEMPLATION space where people will commemorate the victims of the war and pray for them, the visitors at the end return from either side of the Pavilion with the semi-open bamboo wall, the return path is outside and inside at the same time, it makes the pavilion transparent to the people outside.

This experience is achieved by the different density and different number of layers of the wall and the roof throughout the pavilion. On each side the wall consists of 6 layers of horizontal quadruple bamboo beams and 5 layers of vertical quadruple bamboo posts in-between, the first three layers from the outside have the thickest bamboo rods which run from the entrance till the end of the pavilion, the consecutive layers decrease in length and thickness of bamboo, and increasing in density consecutively. This creates the gradient between darkness and light which is crucial to the experience of the visitors. This effect is also amplified by the different number of layers and thicknesses of the roof which each layer is made from woven bamboo with different spacing between the threads of each layer.

The different levels, heights and widths between the entrance and the end strengthened the experience of the pavilion. Combined with the position of the pavilion, with the city behind it and the river and the sunrise ahead of the pavilion, from outside it looks as the whole form is reaching to the sky thus creating a stronger connection with the locals and becomes a symbol for prayer in itself. The raised floor of the contemplation space allowed us to create an open space between the columns where people can pray directly in it in isolation from the activities inside the pavilion itself this space is connected to the upper floor at the contemplation zone through the rain collection system. The raised floor also allowed us to house the storage/study room under it, to create a seamless uninterrupted experience for the visitors.

The pavilion is positioned so that the sun rises right in the view of the contemplation space symbolizing a new chapter of life beginning in peace, visitors can also show their commitment to peace and commemorate the dead by hanging a piece of cloth or something they brings on the bamboo rods of the rain collection system as tribute to the victims of the war.. The pavilion also features a rain collection system, in the raining season the roof will be covered with a thin layer of clear flexible PVC plastic sheets that allow the passage of light but redirects the water to the tank underground.

USE OF MATERIALS — The pavilion is almost made from bamboo entirely. Bamboo is one of the most sustainable materials and found locally in the project area and it is actually used in the local houses. It is also a great construction material, it has twice the compression strength of concrete, and roughly the same strength to weight ratio of steel in tension and with proper treatment it can last decades. And beside all of that it is aesthetically one of the most beautiful materials naturally, with its golden color with the natural sun light it is the most suitable color for this pavilion. To make the roof as light as possible, it is made from woven split bamboo mat. The floor is made also from herringbone weave pattern from bamboo strips on top of the bamboo beams.

All the joints are made from wooden dowels and wedges and ropes from natural materials like palm fibers, bamboo strips or rattan, which all can be sourced locally. To store water and redirect it to the water storage and make the pavilion operational during the rainy season and yet allow the light to enter, a thin transparent plastic sheet will cover the roof in the rainy seasons which is easy to store, incredibly lightweight and very cheap.

CONSTRUCTION PROCESS — All bamboo should be chemically treated with non-toxic salts to remove starch and protect it from insect and fungi and make it fire retardant. First the concrete foundations for bamboo posts are built, the water tank is placed underground, and the top of foundations is buried with sand to hide it. All bamboo posts and beams are quadruple, or triple tied together with shear lashing and wedges, the top 2 are separated from the bottom with wooden slat that they don’t slide over each other. The posts are fixed into the foundations, and then the beams are joined with the columns and tied together, the beams with large spans are supported with bamboo columns in the middle.

The floor is woven tightly in herringbone weave pattern from bamboo strips, and fixed on top of the floor beams. Then the remaining non-structural bamboo elements in the wall is completed and fixed with ropes and dowels. The roof is made from bamboo beams and layers of woven bamboo coverage. To create spacing between the roof layers, the woven roof layers and the bamboo beams are placed in alternating order, the first row of bamboo beams is placed, then the first layer of woven roof then the second row of beams and so on…