Kengo Kuma to chair international design competition for a sacred space

Jan 19, 2017
  • Article by Online Editor

Kengo Kuma, among a slew of other noted architects from around the world, will be chairing an international design competition that promotes peace.

The Kaira Looro International Architecture competition is calling for young architects (including groups) from around the world to submit their speculative work.

The competition aims to create a holy symbol through architecture for the Tanaf community, located in the Casamance region in southern Senegal. The winning project will then go to the international not-for-profit organisation Balouo Salo, who will potentially construct it.

Kaira Looro comes from the Mandinga language of Senegal, meaning ‘architecture for peace’, defining the competition’s theme for the design of a sacred space.


The location

Casamance has faced devastating atrocities since the 1980s, including ongoing wars and droughts. It has been home to more than 20,000 displaced people and soaring temperatures make it a dry and arid place.

The proposed site is in a village called Tanaf, which sits at the Guinea-Bissau border overlooking a valley. Flat riverbeds used to be prime land for rice fields but due to climate change, the land is now too salty.

Across the valley from Tanaf lies the village of Baghere, which is a significant site of religious festivities. Tanaf is one of the largest townships in the region and is supported by existing infrastructure such as schools, hospitals and a marketplace.

The red soil found in Tanaf is full of iron and several quarries use this resource to advantage.


The requirements

The competition calls for the design of a landmark place of worship while giving cultural significance and spirituality back to the community.

The brief asks for a design that is carefully placed within the landscape.

The technical requirements:

– Must not be larger than 350 metres squared,
– must have a maximum height of 30 metres (keep in mind the existing buildings in the village don’t exceed six metres),
– a sustainable approach is recommended – it can be low cost or high tech but must be innovative,
– construction conditions must be considered as specialist workers can be difficult to find,
– the use of natural and local materials is recommended,
– minimal use of water is to be used in the design due to the drought, and
– preference lies with a non-specific religious place of worship (eg. not specifically Christian) to encourage community engagement, plus it may also need to be used for environmental emergencies.


The prize

Internship at Kengo Kuma Associates, Tokyo
Award plaque
Possible realisation of the project
Publication on websites and magazines
Exposure at architectural events

Award plaque
Publication on websites and magazines
Exposure at architectural events

Award plaque
Publication on websites and magazines
Exposure at architectural events

The Kaira Looro competition for the design of a sacred space in Senegal is open for registrations until 2 April 2017, with project submissions due 23 April 2017. Entry fees apply.

To find out more, visit the Kaira Looro website.

Conversation • 1 comments

Add to this conversation


19 Jan 17 at 8:07 PM • Jesse Lockhart-Krause

This is a paid competition. 60-120€ per team.

I won’t be entering this competition due to this reason.


Your email address will not be published.