Submitted by WA Contents

Mariam Kamara and Sumayya Vally to design world’s first Presidential Center and Library in Liberia

Liberia Architecture News - Apr 20, 2022 - 16:11   2175 views

Mariam Kamara and Sumayya Vally to design world’s first Presidential Center and Library in Liberia

Mariam Kamara, Principal and Owner of atelier masōmī from Niger, South African architect Sumayya Vally, founder of Counterspace and Liberian architect Karen Richards Barnes, founder of Pan-African Engineering Group (PAEG), have been selected to design a state-of-the-art Presidential Center and Library Monrovia, Liberia.

Announced by the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Presidential Center for Women and Development (EJS Center), three women will collaborate to design the world’s first Presidential Center and Library for Liberia's former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, a Liberian politician served as the 24th President of Liberia from 2006 to 2018.

Once completed, the project will be the first project of its kind commissioned by a woman president and dedicated to a woman.

The EJS Center has selected the project site in the capital city Monrovia - the new building will be located beside the city’s busiest thoroughfare and overlooking the Atlantic coastline—a site is adjacent to the President’s residence.

The new Presidential Center and Library is set to be built to provide digital access to former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s personal and professional archives.

The Center will also provide a space for training, networking, and presenting exhibitions that aim to inspire women to pursue leadership in all spheres. 

The design is envisioned to be a national and international hub for various kinds of "programs that advance the socio-economic situation of women and girls and uphold their rights and democratic freedom."

Mariam Kamara and Sumayya Vally to design world’s first Presidential Center and Library in Liberia

Mariam Kamara, Principal and Owner of atelier masōmī in Niger. Image courtesy of the LafargeHolcim Foundation

"The project will be a landmark in every sense of the word"

"The project will be a landmark in every sense of the word," said the EJS Center in a press statement

"Never before has a woman president founded and commissioned the design and build of a presidential center and library."

"The Presidential Center and Library will feature a contemporary, future-facing sustainable design that uses local and sustainable materials wherever possible, such as Liberian rubberwood." 

"It will also incorporate vibrant works from African artists, designers, and artisans. These environmental and artistic elements will lend the campus a strong sense of purpose and identity," the EJS Center added.

The EJS Center also stated that the project will be built from local materials and showcase traditional architectural styles that reflect the Center’s respect for African artistry. The design will be conceived to inspire the same in others, bringing a sense of history, culture, and social context to visitors. 

The project will feature open exhibition spaces that allow for special access to study and source materials, while quiet corners will offer spaces for reflection. 

"International visitors will learn about the history and culture of African women, alongside more recent events—including the political career of President Sirleaf herself," added the EJS Center.

Mariam Kamara and Sumayya Vally to design world’s first Presidential Center and Library in Liberia

Sumayya Vally. Photo courtesy Counterspace Studio.

While Mariam Kamara will lead the overall design of the building, Sumayya Vally will design scenography, pavilions and exhibition spaces in the building. 

Distinguished Liberian architect Karen Richards Barnes will serve as the local architect in the project.

"Once completed, the Presidential Center will represent excellence in African architecture and serve as a distinctive feature within the landscape of Africa’s national and cultural institutions," said the EJS Center.

"This partnership between the EJS Center, Ms. Kamara, Ms. Vally, and Mrs. Richards Barnes will create a truly unique destination with women and girls at the very heart of its design," it continued.

Sumayya Vally, who is the designer of the 2020/2021+ Serpentine Pavilion, has recently been appointed as the curator of Saudi Arabia's inaugural Islamic Arts Biennale in 2023. 

Mariam Kamara, Principal and Owner of atelier masōmī, is known for her use of local sources while her design approach is guided by the belief to elevate, dignify, and provide a better quality of life.

Top image (from left to right): Mariam Kamara (courtesy of the LafargeHolcim Foundation), Sumayya Vally (courtesy of Counterspace Studio).

> via EJS Center