“The host is a guest. He who receives is received. The host, the “maître de céans”, is already a guest received in his own home” _ J. Derrida
This quote encapsulates the essence of what this project is aiming for: to gather and welcome. The occupant expects to be welcomed into his own home.
The house is located in Dakar, in the heart of a lively neighborhood half a mile away from the sea. Despite the liveliness of the broader context, the surrounding houses seem to fail in reflecting the typical welcoming nature of Senegalese culture. The project attempts to complement and reinvigorate the neighborhood through the study of 3 elements: shape, color, and texture. The arrangements of the shapes that compose the house play a fundamental role in opening it up to its surroundings. The corner seems to have been subtracted, making way for a garden that also acts as a buffer space between the dwelling and the sometimes busy adjacent streets.
On the ground floor, the stone-clad boundary wall establishes the corner of the house as an essential element of composition while ensuring the necessary privacy between the house and the streets that border it. A discreet entrance door allows access to the house, respecting the rather private nature of the local culture. On the first floor, the circulation is to the side in order to allow all the bedrooms to open onto the garden and the neighborhood. The master bedroom has a private balcony that plays a hybrid role between an exterior and an interior space, making one feel like a host and a guest at the same time.
The top floor acts as private quarters where one can welcome his closest guests. It houses a kitchen, a laundry room, and a spacious lounge that offers an uninterrupted view of the neighborhood and the nearby ocean. The play of volumes and the rounded corners introduce a new perspective within the neighborhood. In a context where all the surrounding houses have a rather regular and angular plan, the choice to round the corners aims to break away from the morphological monotony of the place. The play of light throughout the day changes the perception of the house as the shadows shift from sharp edges where the volumes meet to dissolving themselves into the soft edges of the curved corners.
As for color, the house stands out from the predominance of white and beige in the neighborhood with its warm color palette reminiscent of the earthy tones found in the Dakar peninsula. The exterior finish of the house harkens back to the architecture of the 80s in Dakar where the use of local materials was widespread but also essential to ensure durability and ease of maintenance. The project is a reflection on the idea of hospitality, and how a dwelling can be crafted around that idea to the point where the lines between host and guest are blurred; making the host feel like a guest in his own house.