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Benin National Assembly

Status:

Concept 

Date:

2019 -

Site:

Porto-Novo, Republic of Benin

Size:

35,000 sqm

Client:

Republic of Benin

Collaborators:

Local architects: ECOPLAN,
Structural Engineers: AECOM,
Structural Engineers: SAHEL Ingeneurie,
Local Structural and Civil Engineers: BEST-Ingénieurs,
Acoustic Engineer: Prof. Matthias Middelkamp

Awards:

1st Prize in competition

Having outgrown its current building, which dates back to the colonial era of its past, the parliament of the Republic of Benin has entrusted Kéré Architecture to design a new national assembly that will embody the values of democracy and the cultural identity of its citizens.

The project takes inspiration from the palaver tree, the age-old West African tradition of meeting under a tree to make consensual decisions in the interest of a community. The palaver tree is a timeless symbol, having borne witness to previous generations and inspiring respect for the majestic forces of nature.

The assembly hall is located on the ground floor, its spectacular ceiling created by the dynamic reach of the structure, which supports the functions above. The crown is comprised of offices and auxiliary functions, set back from the deep façade, which filters the strong sunlight. The trunk is hollow, creating a central courtyard that allows circulation spaces to be naturally ventilated and indirect light to penetrate the plan. A spiral staircase in its centre connects the assembly hall on the ground floor to the offices above. On the top floor, a roof terrace offers sweeping views over the city and the lagoon in the distance.

A large part of the site is dedicated to a public park, which will showcase Benin’s native flora while providing Porto-Novo with an extensive recreation space. To create a sense of openness and transparency, the park will extend to the foot of the palaver tree, offering a generous shaded space where citizens can gather and deliberate, analogous to the assembly hall on the opposite side.

In the southeast corner of the site, a public square marks the civic façade of the building, across from the former national assembly where Benin’s independence was historically declared. Further facilities for government services are integrated into the park’s topography with planted roofs, and form a façade along the southern limit of the site.

Having outgrown its current building, which dates back to the colonial era of its past, the parliament of the Republic of Benin has entrusted Kéré Architecture to design a new national assembly that will embody the values of democracy and the cultural identity of its citizens.

The project takes inspiration from the palaver tree, the age-old West African tradition of meeting under a tree to make consensual decisions in the interest of a community. The palaver tree is a timeless symbol, having borne witness to previous generations and inspiring respect for the majestic forces of nature.

The assembly hall is located on the ground floor, its spectacular ceiling created by the dynamic reach of the structure, which supports the functions above. The crown is comprised of offices and auxiliary functions, set back from the deep façade, which filters the strong sunlight. The trunk is hollow, creating a central courtyard that allows circulation spaces to be naturally ventilated and indirect light to penetrate the plan. A spiral staircase in its centre connects the assembly hall on the ground floor to the offices above. On the top floor, a roof terrace offers sweeping views over the city and the lagoon in the distance.

A large part of the site is dedicated to a public park, which will showcase Benin’s native flora while providing Porto-Novo with an extensive recreation space. To create a sense of openness and transparency, the park will extend to the foot of the palaver tree, offering a generous shaded space where citizens can gather and deliberate, analogous to the assembly hall on the opposite side.

In the southeast corner of the site, a public square marks the civic façade of the building, across from the former national assembly where Benin’s independence was historically declared. Further facilities for government services are integrated into the park’s topography with planted roofs, and form a façade along the southern limit of the site.

Park surrounding the Benin National Assembly. Render by Kéré Architecture.
Concept sketch of Benin National Assembly by Jeanne Autran-Edorh.
Masterplan of the Benin National Assembly.
Benches outside the Benin National Assembly. Render by Kéré Architecture.
Exterior corridor of the Benin National Assembly. Render by Kéré Architecture.
Courtyard of Benin National Assembly. Render by Kéré Architecture.
Diagram of the Benin National Assembly.
Elevation of the Benin National Assembly.
Assembly hall of Benin National Assembly. Render by Kéré Architecture.
Plan of the assembly hall.
Section of the assembly hall.
Façade of the Benin National Assembly. Render by Kéré Architecture.
Climate Diagram of Benin National Assembly.
Meeting area in the foyer of the Benin National Assembly. Render by Kéré Architecture.
Lobby of the Benin National Assembly. Render by Kéré Architecture.
An office at the Benin National Assembly. Render by Kéré Architecture.
Director's office at the Benin National Assembly. Render by Kéré Architecture.
Section of the Benin National Assembly.
Floor plan of the Benin National Assembly.
Detail of Benin National Assembly model.