NONGRE – Implementation of a Cultural Center in Bolgatanga/Ghana

Project leaders: Konstantin Hirsch, Milorad Racanovic, Viola Kryza, Theresa Laber
Project coordination: Ao. Univ. Prof. DI Dr. Andrea Rieger-Jandl
Project team: Constanze Walter, YEB Young Earth Builders
Design: Viola Kryza
Partners: NONGRE Crafts and Culture Foundation: Adombila Adugbire, Anthony Anabire, Dorcas Adugbire, Samuel Akolgo
AVN Nubian Vault Association: Emmanuel Atubiga, Samuel Kogo, Tony Kaye
Type of project: Design and Build
Project funding: TU Wien scholarships, private fund raising
Duration: 2017 – ongoing

Master Thesis´ affiliated with this project:
Hirsch, Konstantin und Racanovic, Milorad: NONGRE – lehm:BAU. Errichtung eines Kulturzentrums für Kinder in Ghana, 2023, https://repositum.tuwien.at/handle/20.500.12708/177124
Kryza, Viola: NONGRE – aus Erde geformt. Planung eines Kulturzentrums in Ghana, 2023
Laber, Theresa: Bolgatanga – Eine sozio-kulturelle Untersuchung des gemeinsamen Bauens
Walter, Constanze: Nongre – zwischen zwei Welten. Kulturzentrum für Kinder in Ghana, TU Wien, 2021, https://repositum.tuwien.at/handle/20.500.12708/17069

The focus of the project was the construction of a cultural center in Bolgatanga, a town with around 80,000 inhabitants in the far north of Ghana, where children and young people are cared for after school. The project started with a visit of a group of architecture students in Bolgatanga under the supervision of Ao. Prof. Andrea Rieger-Jandl in 2017.

In the course of the following years five diploma students went to Ghana to conduct field research, each with a focus on different parameters. Their work came together in the planning and implementation of a specific project. Two building compounds including ancillary buildings were planned, the first of which was realized in 2022. The first compound consists of a learning center where children receive homework and study support to reduce high school dropout rates. The second compound represents the cultural center with an integrated handicraft area, in which children and young people learn practical skills (e.g. weaving baskets and mats) that increase their professional opportunities and earning potential. The designed outdoor areas are used for leisure activities such as learning traditional dances and songs. At the same time, the areas also function as a stage for various cultural performances and are used by the entire community.

After school, the NONGRE children are supported in studying and doing homework by adult helpers from Bolgatanga or by volunteers. Afterwards they still have time to let off steam while dancing, singing, playing or drumming. On weekends, the NONGRE children are in the center all day and spend most of their time making baskets, dancing, singing, drumming and playing. Every now and then, students learn and do homework if they weren’t finished during the week or if an exam is due. Lunch is cooked together.

The aim of the NONGRE founders is to preserve traditional building methods and cultural heritage as well as the reduction of the local school dropout rate. The design of the cultural centre is charac-terised by sustainable, locally available materials and aims at a construction that can be implemented with simple tools and aids by local construction workers.

The realization of the project has been made possible through the cooperation with the NGO Association la Voûte Nubienne. AVN´s mission is to help reserve housing problems by promoting the resource and cost-efficient technical concept of the Nubian vault to support the green construction sector. At the same time they train construction workers to stimulate the employability of young people in rural areas.

List of figures:
0 Konstantin Hirsch, Milorad Racanovic
01-08 Viola Kryza
09 The project leaders
10 Theresa Lauber, Viola Kryza and NONGRE Team; Viola Kryza, Theresa Laupichler
11 Construction Team; Viola Kryza, Theresa Laupichler
12 Viola Kryza, Theresa Laupichler
13-17 Konstantin Hirsch, Milorad Racanovic
18-20 NONGRE
21-22 Andrea Rieger-Jandl