For peace to prevail, it is important to set one’s mind away from the essentials. The proposed intervention in the form of a stepwell harvests rainwater for the community and allows places of worship, congregation markets, and performances. It pivots around the utilitarian need while providing increased solitude in spaces within the earth which contradicts the notion of the hot landscape and the condition of scarcity. The aim is to make a landmark in the minds, and not in space.

⁣Here, in the ramp well, the experience of the space is formed by the materiality of the compressed earth bricks while the senses react to the micro-climate created by the presence of water. While the need for water is prevalent, its mere presence is a relief in the minds of the people. Walking down the ramp, often the groundwater is felt than seen. The temperatures of the valley fall with the descent while the sense of solitude increases. From public spaces i.e. markets and water drawing plaza, one descends through small social gatherings, learn and play areas, performance spaces, contemplating individuals to intimate spaces of introspection through the filter of groundwater. Here the water acts as a termination point, where the controlled sound, sight, smell, and temperature makes the contemplation chamber devoid of any influence from its surroundings.

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A step-well is an established water-structure in warm climates. Traditionally, they were made up of locally available stones for retaining the earth. In this proposal, the earth which is excavated for the construction is used as stabilized earth blocks to create retaining and load-bearing walls wherever necessary. The spanning of spaces also consists of similar material and a composite with stone wherever necessary. Apart from the low embodied energy of the structure, rains were one of the most important factors in the shaping of the well. The water from the entire footprint is funneled into the well, and thus recharging the groundwater directly. Also, the lowermost portion of the well is designed for flooding as the groundwater table increases with rainfall and reduces in other seasons.

This well thus defines its appropriateness by being driven by culture and being sustainable for a place with a lack of materials and low technology. Moreover, it responds to the sacredness of architecture while helping communities to overcome difficulties in their daily life.

Kaira Looro Architectural Competition
Senegal, Africa
Design Team:
Naomy Parikh

Caleb Ferro

Hitarth Majethia