Mariam Issoufou Kamara will design the Bët-bi museum in Senegal

Mariam Issoufou Kamara will design the Bët-bi museum in Senegal

Mariam Issoufou Kamara, founder of Atelier Masōmī in Niger, has been selected by a jury to lead the design of the new Bët-bi museum in the Senegambia region of West Africa

A new museum and cultural and association center, the Bët-bi will open its doors in Senegal in early 2025, announce the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation and Le Korsa. Architect Mariam Issoufou Kamara, founder of architecture firm Atelier Masōmī in Niger, was selected by a jury from a shortlist of four African architectural firms to lead the design.

“It is a great honor and privilege to have been selected to lead the design of Bët-bi,” says Kamara. “For too long, our region has been a place of looting of cultural wealth for the benefit of museum collections. This project is an opportunity to design a new type of space that draws inspiration from the region’s roots and spiritual heritage. It’s a chance to push the boundaries of what defines a museum in the 21st century.

Portrait of Mariam Issoufou Kamara. Photography: Rolex / Stéphane Rodrigez Delavega

Bët-bi – or “the eye” in Wolof – will be a state-of-the-art museum in the Senegambia region of West Africa, with a 1,000 m² space including exhibition space and events, a library and community halls.

The new space will be built using sustainable and traditional methods, and created with local artisans. A focus on common spaces and an inclusive environment will incorporate a nod to the area’s heritage, with a design that pays homage to the historical significance of the area’s ancient stone megaliths and four World Heritage Sites of Unesco. Kamara will honor both this local history and the inhabitants themselves, who have occupied the area since the 11th century, in its design celebrating the connection they feel with the land, sun and water.

“We approached this project by looking at the site’s past,” adds Kamara. “We looked very closely at the history of the Kingdom of Saloum and were absolutely fascinated by its origin story, as a place founded jointly by the Serers and the Mandingos. The latter are historically a people of the empire of Mali, known for its monumental architecture. As museums and galleries are a product of our more recent past, it is important to me that the project serves as a bold imperative to continue the recent dialogue around rethinking typology in order to explore new spatial languages ​​around museums.

Rendering of the Bët-bi museum and community center project in Senegal. Image: masomi workshop

Bët-bi will partner with institutions across Africa to showcase historic and modern African art and serve as a temporary space for repatriated objects, until the homes to which they rightfully belong have the capacity to repatriate them. keep.

“We are delighted that Mariam Kamara was chosen unanimously by our distinguished jury of architects,” said Executive Director of the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation and Founder and President of Le Korsa, Nicholas Fox Weber. “His deep respect for local traditions, his keen awareness and knowledge of environmental impact, and his eye for visual beauty will result in a building that will help revitalize the region’s economy, delivering the benefits well demonstrated by other new cultural institutions in places with minimal previous tourism Bët-bi will demonstrate Josef Albers’ maxim “minimum means for maximum effect” and Anni Albers’ faith in “universal and timeless art”. §

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