Le Fouta Organic
The design of this pavilion inspired by the Mousgoum huts from Chad and Cameroon is both an art object and space for visitors and events. Four elements consisting of entrances, doors that give access to the interior space, are nested within the central dome on a circular foundation. Unlike the single doorways of Mousgoum huts that heavenly frame and mark the entrance, Cheick Diallo multiplies them for ventilation and to open up discussion on accessibility, hospitality and belonging in the idea of home.
Seen from the outside, Mousgoum huts are often shaped like shells with patterns made in groups – usually members of the same community – that are both scaffolding and decoration. The material is usually clay and mud collected from the environment where wood and stone are lacking, designed for the context and in response to local needs. The very thick walls leave an opening in the top to allow for air circulation. Due to the fragility of the materials, the Mousgoum huts require permanent maintenance.
Le Fouta Organic contrasts the use of materials that provide durability over time with those that are fragile: its frame rests on a metal skeleton that visually evokes the glued braids of African women and its walls are covered with mosquito nets for greater transparency and communication between the interior and the exterior. The nomadic hut invites a sedentary lifestyle and is meant to be placed in several spaces. For Diallo, this elicits questions of precarity and temporality, and points to architecture’s relationship to maintaining societies’ social conditions, specifically with respect to the slum dwellings that people are forced to endure. Mostly generated by a failing modern segregationist system, despite their precarity and density, slums can be read differently to talk about territory and space.
Le Fouta Organic calls for us to see the potential in the informal and the temporary to teach us a different way to relate to others and space – as any space is a social product.
Cheick Diallo (1960, Bamako) is an architect and designer who lives and works in Mali. After graduating from Ecole Nationale Supérieure de Création Industrielle (ENSCI), he returned to Mali where he founded Diallo Design Studio in his hometown among artisans who manufacture domestic objects from salvaged materials such as old tyres, bottle tops, cans and computer batteries. With his team of artisans he manufactures finely crafted furniture and objects from discarded objects or waste; he makes his own work by designing everyday objects through a contemporary vision. Influenced by the Anglo-Saxon and French schools, Diallo advocates cultural mixing in his creations and his projects usually speak to a local making of using discarded materials and working mostly by hand. His involvement in the promotion of ‘Made in Africa’ design materialised in establishing the Association of African Designers in 1996 of which he has been the president since 2004. His work has been awarded multiple distinctions such as Elle Decoration’s 2014 designer of the year. His works are in the collections of major museums in France, England, Switzerland, Belgium and the United States. He has exhibited in numerous venues including: Mandet Museum, Riom, France; National Museum of Mali, Bamako; Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf; Hayward Gallery, London; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Johannesburg Art Gallery; and Mori Art Museum, Tokyo.
This work is presented in collaboration with The Kröller-Müller Museum.
Cheick Diallo Le Fouta Organic, 2021 Pavillion, steel, 300x500x400cm, commissioned for sonsbeek2024, photo by Django van Ardenne