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Ahmed Baba Institute

Timbuktu is historically a seat of Islamic learning and had come to house many priceless texts and books written in almost forgotten dialects of North Africa. The Ahmed Baba Institute was established to house and restore this scattered collection.

The location is a world heritage site in the Sankore Precinct and occupies a zone between the old mud-brick city and the more modern periphery – the cusp between the old and new. From the outset, the project sought to capture the unique experiential qualities of the narrow and secretive streets of Timbuktu. The new buildings form a microcosm of the greater Timbuktu city – an experiential route which ties the main auditorium and outdoor amphitheatre to the library, restoration spaces and guest rooms – to form an interactive whole.

The materials express a synthesis of old and new building traditions. Thick sunbaked mud brick walls with deeply recessed niches and small openings define the key ground level forms of the building. Off-shutter concrete provides a contemporary contrast to the brick, emphasising the connection.

  • Client COESSA Holdings
  • Location Timbuktu, Mali
  • Year 2009
  • Area 4 800 m²
  • Status Built
  • Awards SAPOA Merit Award
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