Category Archives: Architecture

Thunderbird

Thunderbird Lodge

Thunderbird Lodge in Rose Valley Pa., Life Drawing Workshop

Written and photographed by Robert Bohne

Every now and then, you find an overlooked gem in your own back yard. And so it was with the Thunderbird Lodge in Rose Valley Pa. I’ve lived in this area my entire life, and I’ve driven by this location at least a thousand times, and yet I’ve never really noticed the Thunderbird Lodge. Hidden from view by decades of overgrown trees and wild vegetation, the Thunderbird Lodge on Rose Valley Road is now in the process of being renovated. The trees and vegetation have been trimmed and removed, and the building now takes it’s rightful place among the historic architecture of Rose Valley.

Thunderbird Lodge

Originally a circa-1790 stone barn, the building was converted into a home and studio for artists Alice Barber Stephens and Charles Stephens by architect William L. Price in 1904.  Charles was an authority on American Indians, and he named the Lodge after a legendary North American indigenous creature. Charles was a teacher at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, and Alice was a successful illustrator. They raised their son, D. Owen Stephens (1894–1937) in Rose Valley, and painted there until their deaths.

Thunderbird Lodge

The Thunderbird Lodge then became the home of Allen Seymour and Mildred Olmstead. He was a lawyer, member of the Men’s Commission for Women’s Suffrage, and helped in the founding of the ACLU. Mildred worked with the American Birth Control League and was a director of the U.S. section of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. Together they worked with the American Friends Service Committee, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. The house was used as a safe meeting place for other activists, including Jane AddamsJames FarmerGeorge Washington Carver, and Martin Luther King, Jr.

In 2015, the house was given to the community of Rose Valley and is now in the process of being converted into a museum that will feature the arts and crafts of the region, and on Sunday, Oct. 16, 2016, the Lodge held it’s first drawing workshop in the studios that were originally built for the Stephens. Studios that haven’t seen artists put pencil to paper in well over a hundred years.

Thunderbird Lodge, Robert BohneRobert Bohne, Carol, charcoal and white pastel on tan paper. 12 x 9 from the first Thunderbird Lodge drawing session.

So here’s a tip of the hat to the volunteers at the Thunderbird Lodge for their hard work and for their vision of preserving the past and presenting the artists of the future.

Written and photographed by Robert Bohne

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Love

Alien Architect, Cohen AsherDevin Asher Cohen = Alien Architect = Cohen Asher at Kugel Collecive Gallery FOTO by Floyd Kelley

Devin Asher Cohen = Alien Architect = Cohen Asher

Equidistance: All Love All Praises Kunst Art Arte Exhibition

Love Joyous Celebration Inner Inter Connectivity Gentle Kindness Exhibition

at The Kugel Collaborative Art Gallery

Alien Architect, Cohen AsherDevin Asher Cohen = Alien Architect = Cohen Asher at Kugel Collecive Gallery FOTO by Floyd Kelley

Devin Asher Cohen = Alien Architect = Cohen Asher recalls, “it was or i was, capital I or lowercase i, posting and acting upon magical uninhibited kindness and inspiration peace love vibrations without feeling a need to read all the pages before getting to that point in the story, skipping a head, and skipping, bouncing bubbly as if solution or… na not exactly, just as if state of being, and not as to dominate or subordinate other states of being fore there is more to it and a plethora of realities, though this too is part of it, he thought to him self maybe…. which was when Doniel and I connected and the seeds that would later be this, my exhibition of making peace and harmony with rootedness revisited were planted and began to grow, though the seed that led to those seeds had already been seedlings fore shore.”

asher4Devin Asher Cohen = Alien Architect = Cohen Asher at Kugel Collecive Gallery FOTO by Floyd Kelly

asher3

“Before returning to Philly, Alien had been speaking intimately with Nereo Zamitiz of Colectivo la Pesera and Arturo Lopez on their radio show entitled El Vortice on SaberSinFin radio in Puebla Mexico  (http://www.sabersinfin.com/audios/119-el-vortice/14205-el-proyecto-de-alien-architect). Alien said to them, “soon, October 2nd, I come to Philly for a collective exhibition named Correspondencia or Corresponence in english, a touring exhibition that will travel through many countries… the participating artists met in hungary… one artist from Germany… one from Hungary, another from Chile living in Czech Republic … others from Mexico …” (check this DoN Brewer article for more info about Correspondencia ::http://www.donartnews.com/correspondencia/ )  …. At the same spot that is currently housing and showcasing this traveling Correspondence exhibition, Community Futures Lab on October 12th, Alien Architect / Cohen Asher / Devin A. Cohen performed a musical poetry words set at an incredible concert which also featured Curta, Wino Willy, John Morrison, Has-Lo, JPEG Mafia; it was a musical experimental progressive meta Rhythm and Poetry (RAP) show. Alien Architect performed with Lem Pidlaoan on drum set, Ras Aleph Judah on bass, and his bro on percussion. Alien/Cohen recalls moments after the fact, in a retrospect of mere moments, that the feeling of this performing experience on this night was a bit like a revisiting or a do over of an aspect of reality but then on second thought or from a different angle was simply simply a beautiful experience all its own in totality anew in which many of the congestions within Alien were expelled and evaporated into useful fueling energy sources as well as energies them selves and others.”

Alien Architect, Cohen Asher, The Kugle CollaborativeDevin Asher Cohen = Alien Architect = Cohen Asher at Kugel Collecive Gallery FOTO by Floyd Kelley

“The next day Alien awoke. Instead of the ‘normal’ Art opening way of presenting his solo exhibition at Kugel gallery, an exhibition which had actually been up for some time, maybe a month-ish, though it had more so been seen in extremely festive vibrant joyous celebratory magical inspirational mystical stellar private events and not through the channelings of some other folks and cats as well, whom Alien exuberantly enthralled ecstatically and excitedly wanted to also share it with;  he wanted to simply arrange visitations and kind meetings. Yes, prior to this exhibition had been huge festive vibrant gatherings, one of which Alien/Cohen had the pleasure and blessing to attend, and the many others Alien has only imagined with such smiling glee and fulfillment at the though of such a connectivity inner inter spirit joy…

And so on this Day, Thursday October 13th at Noon, Alien Architect at his exhibition met with Ruthie Schanbacher, an incredible experimental avant gard left field fabrics happening fashion artist whom also has a fantastic arts website with news and interviews, which we recommend you check out.  A few years ago, Alien was interviewed in Ruthie’s arts website:: this is the link to that interview

https://mandismag.wordpress.com/2013/04/19/cohen-asher-alien-architect-artist-musician-vocalist-writer-an-interview/ . The site, as you can see when you click on the link, is called Manufactured Dissent (like a play on the Noam Chomsky film Manufactured Consent, a film dealing with analysis on power structure, print and projection screen media like tv, language systems, and News and the channels it goes through before reaching an audience and the ways in which that effects its accuracy and what it perpetuates and who that perpetuation benefits and why and since when and so forth… ).  Anyways these are the stellar photos that Rutherford took of Devin Asher Cohen = Alien Architect = Cohen Asher and his vibration magnetism art works whilst at his peace love kindness exhibition of transcendence ::

Alien Arcitect, Cohen AsherDevin Asher Cohen = Alien Architect = Cohen Asher at Kugel Collecive Gallery FOTO by Floyd Kelley Alien Arcitect, Cohen AsherDevin Asher Cohen = Alien Architect = Cohen Asher at Kugel Collecive Gallery FOTO by Floyd KelleyAlien Arcitect, Cohen AsherDevin Asher Cohen = Alien Architect = Cohen Asher recalls “sometimes in the transcend of other-ness, what would have otherwise been associated with self-ness per haps, becomes alien or otherly, this experience and exhibition is very much about transcending that as well.”

Day 2: FRIDAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  October 14th ::

Alien Architect, Cohen Asher, The Kugle CollaborativeDevin Asher Cohen = Alien Architect = Cohen Asher at Kugel Collecive Gallery FOTO by Ruthie Schanbacher

Before Alien and friends arrived, there had already been a gathering of children’s activities from 10-10:30 on site at the gallery exhibition, which made Alien smile at the thought that his paintings could be an aspect of the environment of such positive kind happenings.

Alien Architect, Cohen Asher, The Kugle CollaborativeDevin Asher Cohen = Alien Architect = Cohen Asher at Kugel Collecive Gallery FOTO by Ruthie SchanbacherAlien Architect, Cohen Asher, The Kugle CollaborativeDevin Asher Cohen = Alien Architect = Cohen Asher at Kugel Collecive Gallery FOTO by Floyd Kelley

Alien Architect, Cohen Asher, The Kugle CollaborativeDevin Asher Cohen = Alien Architect = Cohen Asher at Kugel Collecive Gallery FOTO by Ruthie SchanbacherAlien Architect, Cohen AsherDevin Asher Cohen = Alien Architect = Cohen Asher at Kugel Collecive Gallery FOTO by Ruthie Schanbacher

“Alien entered the space with that feeling pulsating through his being as he met some magical kin folks at 11am, which was a blessing. They experienced the exhibition and felt its vibration as well as the inner self and each other from their inner mostest to their outer aspects, as well as the non localized experiencial. Many of the pieces in this exhibition are retrospect and a recontexualizing of Alien’s Philadelphia collection of his works which he created in Philadelphia while time traveling and astral projecting, though a few of the pieces were newer and created in Hungary as well. (Alien also has a Mexican collection of his work as well, which exists n Mexico right now and bulk of it was created there, much of it at Liliput, he and Rebeca’s Gallery in Puebla). Alien’s work also exists in private collections in Paris (where Alien last year performed as featured poet at three incredible stellar poetry event happenings, He also created art works, paintings while there), in Hungary, California, New York, Philadelphia, London. He has exhibited his art which he exudes and cries sweats and bleeds out form his ARTeries lots in many different spaces in Mexico, across realities in Philadelphia, and at the beginning of this year in Spain and Japan now too. In fact, Alien Architect’s latest droney dramatic poetico musical poetry record is titled Arteria, which means Artery in Spanish. This is a link to Arteria on SoundCloud:

https://soundcloud.com/cohen-asher/sets/alien-architect-arteria

Feel free to Purchase Arteria or any other Alien Architect Album on his band camp at:

https://alienarchitect.bandcamp.com/

Ok, Flashback a little, when Alien had first set up this exhibition, was when he had returned with his love and artistic cohort companion, contemporary artist gothic metal head and photographer of culture and music and art for magazines and the avant gard, Rebeca Martell. Well, she had to head to Mexico to work on billions trillions of projects; Alien. still in Philly for a little, wrote to Doniel-Reuvana Leah Grodnitzky, and in a magic moment Doniel came by serendipitously, as they had been speaking of this for some time now though in different countries and physically at distances (equidistance)::: now this was the moment of fruition. Doniel came by. Alien felt the divine mystical intuition and began feeling and percieving and loaded Doniel’s car with his art works and brought the pieces over and hung them by means of flow and acceptance of the divine moment and existence that seems to be part of Alien’s process (including the transcendence of the pedestaling of such an idea too, but also the acceptance of all, including that and all all). Once they arrived at Kugel Gallery with Devin Alien’s art, Doniel stepped out for a moment to take care of some other things; when he returned Alien was just about finished placing his pieces upon the walls, Doniel began to shoot a few photos and each shot had such an precision and beauty to it, anecdotal and in that moment joyously.”

These are the photos that Doniel shot on that day of the beginning of this experiential inner inter connectivity shed layers exhibition:

Alien Architect, Cohen Asher, The Kugle CollaborativeDevin Asher Cohen = Alien Architect = Cohen Asher at Kugel Collecive Gallery FOTO by Doniel Reuvena Leah GrodnitzkyAlien Architect, Cohen Asher, The Kugle CollaborativeDevin Asher Cohen = Alien Architect = Cohen Asher at Kugel Collecive Gallery FOTO by Doniel Reuvena Leah GrodnitzkyAlien Architect, Cohen Asher, The Kugle CollaborativeDevin Asher Cohen = Alien Architect = Cohen Asher at Kugel Collecive Gallery FOTO by Doniel Reuvena Leah Grodnitzky

Ok, back to the present story, DoN Brewer arrived at 3PM, they were thrilled to see each other, Alien felt encouraged and accepted to be excited and kind and thrilled and friendly, Don is great spirit soul. They knew each other prior to this return from Mexico, however they had been sparking and energizing especially now;  At the Plastic Club’s Photographic Society Exhibition of which Don was a part of, and then moments later at Correspondencia, both October 2nd (which is still on display now). This is Don’s Article about Corespondencia:   http://www.donartnews.com/correspondencia/

And so, In moments, just after DoN and Cohen quite cathartically candidly and openly conversed “on the level,”  DoN shot a SUPER COOL  live VIDEO OF COHEN ASHER / ALIEN ARCHITECT PERFORMING A mINI EXCERPT FROM “ALL PRAISES” as well, this version a bit more calmly spoken on the low key, and as if calm descriptor of the wandering experience in relation to the inner inter of the exhibition, as well as the umbrella concept overarching generality specificity it alludes and tributes and attributes to.

This is that video:

https://www.facebook.com/DoNArTNeWs/videos/1274031232672272/?pnref=story

——We’ve also found this, which has surfaced, it is WHAT appears to be A REHEARSAL  ACOUSTIC PRIVATE PERFORMANCE TESTING ENERGY LEVELS FOR ALIEN ARCHITECT SONG “ALL PRAISES” and super awesome ! Seems it is live from Alien Architect’s / Cohen Asher‘s Philadelphia artist studio.

https://www.facebook.com/asher.cohen.908/videos/10208234199626810/?pnref=story

—– SOON COHEN‘S BOOK IS COMING PRINTY PRINTY, WHICH INCLUDES ‘ALL PRAISES’ AS WELL  AS COHEN‘S other WRITINGS from 2001 till 2016 from all his records as well as his recent poems of the past few years in this next period (etc). RUMOURS OF This book’s TITLE HAVE BEEN CIRCULATING, WITH THE MOST PREVALANT CONJECTURE BEING THAT IT SHALL BE TITLED “REMNANTS.”  RUMOURS OF A POSSIBLE COMPANION MUSICAL RECORD TO ACCOMPANY THE BOOK HAVE BEEN SURFACING AS WELL, AFTER IT SEEMED TO HAVE BEEN ALLUDED to OR IMPLIED IN ALIEN ARCHITECT’S RECENT RADIO INTERVIEW ON EL VORTICE RADIO ON SABERSINFIN (This was Alien’s second appearance on the show, the same one spoken of at the beginning of this article).

Alien Architect 2016 Saber SinFin Interview: http://www.sabersinfin.com/audios/119-el-vortice/14205-el-proyecto-de-alien-architect

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=prdvvlD0Wno

Soon Devin Asher Cohen = Alien Architect = Cohen Asher shall venture off into the distance to Mexico with his love. As for Alien, always more to say and details to articulate, but he shall return’th from the abyss one day. Feel free to follow the rabbit whole that is his Art and his website and that of links leading to links leading to interviews to articles to videos to subtext to intertextuality in his art works (poetry, art, music, theater) and the stories both linear and nonlinear and more info, adventures, wanderings, constructs, deconstructs, journeys, quests, and so forth. We will end off with three brief quotes from Alien Architect / Cohen Asher / Devin Asher Cohen, himself; excerpts from his upcoming book, these are also to a degree statements of art from perspective that of internal feeling as consciousness as lens from which as art and thoughts that go beyond language but also poetry as an internal experience which speaks to the tunneling and path and way and process of Cohen‘s Peace Love Joyous Celebration Inner Inter Connectivity solo Exhibition at Kugel Gallery:

triviality

trivia

clever

wit

ends

silence

starts

direct connection

unmediated

most immediate experiential

an infinity of self contained unity         peripheral expanse

tabula rasa

baggage and weight up lifted gravitational pulled

microscopic vibrations live

as we fall

in

love

immediate rooted extension overarching omni is

an infinity of self contained unity         peripheral expanse

tabula rasa

filled full emptiness

empty fullness

fulfilled

triviality

trivia

clever

wit

ends

silence

starts

direct connection

unmediated

immediate experiential

gazing outward

—— Devin Asher Cohen = Alien Architect = Cohen Asher, March 15, 2016 ——

————————————————————————

”     sounds massing multi layered over under over under; micro, macro, bio, geo, textural cement: rocky, blue, red, yellow, maze – path – all at once –

overlap detail, fields surrounded by lines, lines filled in with patterns; stacked: developed multi mixed media rates of growth; textural all at once, soundly massing pictorially.

minimalism, maximalism, gestalt, mere, open ended indefinite into fixed though non specific to beholder’s eyes witnessing; inner inter-active, is.

process; result as residual of experiential   

—— Devin Asher Cohen = Alien Architect = Cohen Asher, 2016 ——


one cannot

act real

one cannot

behave real

but one

can feel real

one can

imply real

one can

imply

feeling real

through acting and behaving

——Devin Asher Cohen = Alien Architect = Cohen Asher, 2006 ——


Devin Asher Cohen = Alien Architect = Cohen Asher websites (follow the rabbit whole, portaling):

http://alienarch.wixsite.com/arteria

https://www.facebook.com/alienarchitect/?fref=ts

https://twitter.com/alienarchitect

https://soundcloud.com/cohen-asher/sets/alien-architect-arteria

http://alienarchitectcohenasher.tumblr.com/

Liliput websites:

http://liliputxperimental.wixsite.com/liliput

https://www.facebook.com/liliput.gallery/

https://twitter.com/LiliputGallery

Rebeca Martell: http://rebecamartell.wixsite.com/doom

Ruthie Schanbacher’s Manufacured Dissenthttps://mandismag.wordpress.com/2013/04/19/cohen-asher-alien-architect-artist-musician-vocalist-writer-an-interview/

https://www.facebook.com/Manufactured-Dissent-52989847157/?fref=ts

Community Futures Lab: https://www.facebook.com/communityfutureslab/?fref=ts

DoNArTNeWs:

http://www.donartnews.com/correspondencia/

Thank you to Devin Asher Cohen = Alien Architect = Cohen Asher for the content of this post.

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Dark

Dark Tourism, Ed SnyderHead Blood Red, Ed Snyder

Dark Tourism, Ed Snyder, The Cemetery Traveler, Church St. Art and Craft

Church St. Art and Craft, 2 Church St. Mt. Holly, NJ in the Historic Mill Race Village of Shops 609-261-8634

Ed SnyderThe Cemetery Traveler: October 5th – 30th, 2016

Artist Reception: October 15th, 2:30 – 4:30pm

What you will see: Ed Snyder’s passion for “dark tourism” began in the 1990s. Visiting and exploring locations most people avoid has become his passion, and one of the subjects for which he is best known. Whether it involves climbing a fence into a locked cemetery or exploring and researching abandoned ones, he documents his (sometimes shocking) experiences on his blog, “The Cemetery Traveler.”

Dark Tourism, Ed SnyderThe EmbraceEd Snyder

Dark Tourism, Ed SnyderEven the Angels CriedEd Snyder (click for large image)

The attraction to death for most people is a primal force. We avoid it for the most part, but when confronted with images that suggest our own mortality, we find that we cannot look away. While his photography can be experienced in a seemingly voyeuristic manner, there is no doubt that many of these images will haunt your dreams.

Dark Tourism, Ed SnyderA Light SnowEd Snyder

Dark Tourism, Ed SnyderVoodoo DollEd Snyder

Ed Snyder began this blog in order to share his decade-long experience with all things cemeterial. As a photographer specializing in images of cemetery statuary, I’ve run into some interesting people, had some unexplainable experiences, and had a lot of fun.” – The Cemetery Traveler

“The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.” – Pablo Picasso

“Church St. Art & Craft is an eclectic art space. We are a cooperative art gallery in the historic Mill Race Village in Mt. Holly, NJ. We are a custom frame shop, a place to gather and create art and a shop to purchase charming hand made gifts. In short, a wonderfully creative place to visit!” – Church St. Art and Craft

Dark Tourism, Ed Snyder
The End of TimeEd Snyder

https://thecemeterytraveler.blogspot.com/
http://www.edsnyderphoto.com/

Like Church St. Art and Craft on facebook

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Ourself

Ourself: Roosevelt Plaza Park, Camden   Ourself : An Interactive Public Art Piece

Roosevelt Plaza Park, Camden NJ – 2016

Ourself is a site-specifific, responsive artwork that shares the positive inner voices of Camden. By entering the work the public activates audio clips of personal interviews with local residents from all walks of life, around the theme of motivation and ambition.

The infinite mirrored space symbolizes the many voices of the community that define our story and ourselves. Ourself is produced by New American Public Art in collaboration with Cooper’s Ferry Partnership, the City of Camden, Connect the Lots, Get Healthy Camden and NextFab.

ourself2

The work is generously funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Kresge Foundation, and the Campbell Soup Foundation. The Connect the Lots initiative is a community-driven initiative to activate Camden, New Jersey’s vacant and underutilized spaces through the identification and implementation of artistic, cultural, and recreational projects and activities in these spaces to create safe and vibrant gathering places for the residents of the City of Camden.

ourself3

For more information visit newamericanpublicart.com/ourself

Contact: New American Public Art info@newamericanpublicart.com 10 Tyler Street, Somerville,, MA 02143

Meishka L. Mitchell, AICP, PP meishka@coopersferry.com 2 Riverside Dr # 501, Camden, NJ 08103

ourself4New American Public Art is a multi-disciplinary studio for conceptualizing, designing, fabricating, and installing interactive projects.

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Ourself from New American Public Art on Vimeo.

Community

kere4Laongo CSPS Clinic, Designed by Francis Kéré, Burkinabe, active Berlin, Photograph © Kéré ArchitecturePhiladelphia Museum of Art

The Architecture of Francis Kéré, Building for Community, Philadelphia Museum of Art

May 14 – September 25, 2016, Collab GalleryPhiladelphia Museum of Art

Francis Kéré is an internationally renowned, Berlin ­based architect who integrates traditional knowledge and craft skills into innovative and sustainable buildings worldwide. As the first son of the head of Gando, his home village in Burkina Faso, he was the only child allowed to attend school in a large city; he later studied architecture in Europe. While still a student, he began to reinvest his knowledge back into his community, building schools that would change its future trajectory.

In Gando, Kéré combined traditional Burkinabé building techniques with modern engineering methods, maximizing local materials and community participation to reduce costs and ecological impact—a practice common to many of the projects highlighted in this exhibition. His work in Gando has become a catalyst for further development: the men and women he trained in construction techniques can now use their skills to earn incomes for their families. Students in his schools have gone on to pursue higher education and aspire to circumstances that were considered impossible before.   kere7Primary school in Gando, Burkina Faso, completed 2001, Designed by Francis Kéré, Burkinabe, active Berlin, Photograph by Erik-Jan Ouwerkerk

Harnessing the success of the Gando initiative, Kéré founded his Berlin office in 2005 and has since garnered acclaim for his work elsewhere in Western Africa and, more recently, in Europe and North America. He is the recipient of the 2014 Schelling Architecture Foundation Award, the Global Award for Sustainable Architecture, and the BSI Swiss Architectural Award, among others.

kere3Gando School Library, Designed by Francis Kéré, Burkinabe, active Berlin, Photograph © Kéré Architecture

This school consists of nine modules that house a series of classrooms and administrative offices. The laterite stone walls, undulating off-white ceiling, and unique wind-towers exponentially reduce the interior temperature.

Secondary School, 2007 / Dano

Consisting of three classrooms, a computer room, and office space, this school is built mostly of widely available laterite stone and features a permeable ceiling, a corrugated sheet roof, and shaded windows that ensure natural ventilation. The laterite refining process and the ventilation system illustrate Kéré’s innovative techniques utilizing local handicraft.

Francis Kéré, Building for CommunityGando School Extension, Designed by Francis Kéré, Burkinabe, active Berlin, Photograph by Erik-Jan Ouwerkerk

Primary School , 2001 / Gando

To ensure a natural and sustainable cooling system in an extremely hot region, the roof over the classrooms is elevated from the interior construction; underneath, a perforated clay ceiling allows for maximum ventilation.

Canopy Shelter and Shade

The tree is a primal form of shelter. Four fundamental elements of architecture can be extracted from the various parts of the tree: canopy, structure, gathering place, and shadow. The canopy, as a general concept of various roof and ceiling enclosures, is an architectural cornerstone in Kéré’s work. Constructions in hot, arid places like Burkina Faso depend on innovative shade-making devices that allow ventilation and cooling without the need for electricity, as well as overhangs that provide protection from torrential rains. This video’s skyward perspective presents the importance of canopies in Burkina Faso, from village trees to traditional ceilings made of clay and thatch, to Kéré’s roof constructions at different stages of completion.

kere6Gando School Library, Designed by Francis Kéré, Burkinabe, active Berlin, Photograph © Kéré Architecture

Building with Community

Reflecting the accessibility of Kéré’s building process, this video shows one of his most recent projects: the Lycée Schorge school in Koudougou, Burkina Faso. Unlike most modern construction sites in the West, which are strictly off-limits to the public, the Schorge site is left open for the surrounding villagers to observe. This process demystifies the act of building, allowing the public to slowly accept and sometimes even contribute to the new construction. Every stage of the project, including mounting the ceiling trusses and facade elements, fabricating the classroom furniture, and painting the interiors and window shutters, is performed without the use of heavy machinery.

The chairs in this space were made by a local fabricator in Philadelphia using the same design that Kéré created for schools in Burkina Faso. The Francis Kéré Foundation and the Philadelphia Museum of Art are pleased to offer these fifteen chairs for sale at the close of the exhibition to support Kéré’s further work in Gando. If you would like to reserve one or more chairs, please visit the Museum Store in this building for further details.

Diébédo Francis Kéré: How to build with clay… and community

Sharing Knowledge

Whether in a classroom with chalkboards and desks, or under a great baobab tree with logs and stones, the survival and prosperity of each new generation relies heavily on the transmission of knowledge. Gathering is not only a function of social occasions, it is also how ideas are discussed and spread. Shadow symbolizes this place of coming together. Visitors are invited to sit within this gathering space.

Wood

While natural hardwood forests are rare in Burkina Faso, the fast-growing eucalyptus tree provides a useful source of timber. This species is considered a nuisance in the region because it provides little shade and leaches moisture from the soil, exacerbating the problems of desertification. Despite its limited structural strength, it can still be made into screens, interior finishes, furniture, and even secondary facade systems that shade and protect buildings from wind and rain. Through the process of testing and prototyping, Kéré’s firm is also exploring new solutions for reinforcing the material for structural applications.

Clay

Burkinabés have long built with clay, extracting it from the earth, processing it by hand, and using it in a variety of architectural and craft elements, from walls to hand-built pottery. For the Gando School Library, Kéré pioneered a new use for local clay, casting sections of large pots into the ceiling to provide natural ventilation and lighting. Made by local women, the pots were transported to the building site on foot, involving the community’s expertise and participation. More recently, Kéré engineered an innovative way to cast the clay into reusable molds, creating wall systems that can be replicated for use in modular buildings.

Bricks

Bricks play a crucial role in Kéré’s architectural practice. Whether cast from clay or cut from locally extracted laterite stone, the simple form of the brick can be used to create sophisticated architectural forms and building systems. With or without mortar, bricks can be used in walls, ceilings, and floors. Different systems of stacking and bonding can produce a permeable boundary, allowing air and light to pass through. Thick brick walls also create a thermal mass, which, together with adequate ventilation and shading, helps to maintain a comfortably cool interior space.

School Furniture

To offset the costs of transporting building materials to remote sites with extremely limited means, Kéré and his team came up with ingenious ways to use every scrap of material left over from construction. Using steel rebar and plywood, the team built customized chairs and desks for school students and staff. Every bend and weld was carefully calculated to streamline production time and costs. The furniture was produced on-site with simple hand tools and jigs. A particularly striking detail is the rubber “shoe” made by hand from recycled automobile tires.

Architecture of Community

Despite the many differences between the city of Philadelphia and the village of Gando in Burkina Faso, where Francis Kéré was born, the installation in this atrium emphasizes the human-scale domestic architecture of both places and the sense of community such a design produces. In the plan of this space, Kéré overlaid the geometric grid of William Penn’s Philadelphia — represented by the regular placement of the frames that support the hanging parachute cord enclosures — with the irregular disposition of the enclosures themselves, mimicking the organic development of a Burkinabé village. The installation also features sounds collected from both Burkina Faso and Philadelphia, reinforcing the concept of community and shared space. The hanging parachute cord material may appear first as an obstacle, but on entering and interacting with the installation, the visitor will perceive that the material is a unifying, enclosing element that creates common spaces that must be negotiated and shared.

It Takes a Village

Conceived by Kéré Architecture and designed in collaboration with the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s Curatorial, Exhibition Design, and Editorial and Graphic Design teams, this exhibition has fostered an exchange of ideas, traditions, and experiences between Africa, Europe, and the United States. Thanks to the eager participation of many members of the Museum staff and volunteers, the Young Friends Executive Board and event committee, students from the University of Pennsylvania Undergraduate Program in Architecture, and the general public to help fabricate components, this installation truly represents the coming together of a community. In addition, the Philadelphia Museum of Art would like to acknowledge Richard Wesley, for facilitating the UPenn collaboration; Larry Spitz, Carol Klein, and Sasha Barrett, who generously offered their services in creating the red clay pots to suggest the Gando Library ceiling; and David Cann and James Bassett-Cann, for their help in the realization of the atrium installation.

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The Philadelphia Museum of Art is Philadelphia’s art museum. We are a landmark building. A world-renowned collection. A place that welcomes everyone. We bring the arts to life, inspiring visitors—through scholarly study and creative play—to discover the spirit of imagination that lies in everyone. We connect people with the arts in rich and varied ways, making the experience of the Museum surprising, lively, and always memorable. We are committed to inviting visitors to see the world—and themselves—anew through the beauty and expressive power of the arts.

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