Dogon Eco Visitors Center
Located in the center of Bandiagara, the site is made up of landforms that evoke the cultural landscape of Pays Dogon (Dogon country). Stone retaining walls create stacked low terraces planted with indigenous wild and cultivated plants. Adobe walls rise up out of the landscape to form a low open building facing southwest toward a public Amphitheater. The building is open to trade winds blowing from the southwest and shaped to provide buffering from the windblown dust storms of the Harmattan out of the east. Elements of Dogon culture inspire the details – carved rain scuppers, indigo blankets, caiman masks, and the concept of the Kanaga linking heaven and earth, man and spirit. A sinuous thread of bioswales wind their way across the north edge of the site collecting rainwater to nourish plants and trees in the dry season. The facility is designed with low impact development and passive building strategies to provide clean water, fresh air, and natural light while celebrating the cultural heritage of the people of Dogon.
The city of Bandiagara serves as the gateway to Pays Dogon, a place rich in natural beauty and the seat of Dogon culture for over 600 years. The eco-tourism center for this UNESCO world-heritage site is part green design, part urban planning – incorporating a vision of tree-lined streets, green space, and a visitor center that will be a model for sustainable community-building. The team worked with the US Forest Service and Solimar International to coordinate site selection, assess local/regional capacity, and develop this vision with city leaders and the Cristina Nardone Foundation. Funding was provided for by the USAID Global Sustainable Tourism Alliance initiative.