Rashid Ali creates pink-concrete pavilion with “miniature botanical garden” in Somaliland

Aerial view of Courtyard Pavilion in Somaliland by Rashid Ali Architects

A pink-concrete canopy shelters a seating area around a small garden at the Courtyard Pavilion in Hargeisa, the capital of the autonomous region of Somaliland, designed by local studio Rashid Ali Architects.

Hargeisa and London studio Rashid Ali Architects designed the pavilion as a social space, complete with a water fountain and a “miniature botanical garden”.

Its design draws on the civic role of trees in the area and features native plants from across Somaliland, the region that declared independence from Somalia in 1991. Internationally, it is still considered to be part of the country.

Aerial view of Courtyard Pavilion by Rashid Ali Architects
Rashid Ali Architects has created a concrete pavilion in Hargeisa

“The tree has a unique role in the culture of Somalis,” the studio’s founder Rashid Ali told Dezeen.

“Historically it’s a space where stories are shared, ceremonies are held and disputes are settled,” Ali added.”At the site, there once stood a famous acacia tree that formed a symbol of civic life.”

“The structure attempts to pay homage to this beloved tree, by reimagining and reconstructing its former role in the city.”

Pink pavilion in Somaliland
The concrete is coloured with pink pigment

Located on a triangular site, the Courtyard Pavilion sits on a concrete base wrapped by a low wall. A small garden at its centre is surrounded by bench-like concrete seating and a public water fountain.

Thin columns support the pitched canopy above, shading the seating areas while allowing sunlight onto the garden through a large central void.

Pink concrete structure
The pavilion sits on a concrete base wrapped by a low wall

The distinctive reddish-pink colour of the concrete canopy and columns was drawn from the red sand found in the regions surrounding the city.

“The idea was to provide a durable and colourful form that gives a sense of permanence,” Ali told Dezeen.

Garden of Courtyard Pavilion in Somaliland
A garden sits at its centre

“Formally, there is also an oblique reference to the temporary wooden structures on stilts found in small villages across the region,” the architect continued.

As well as referencing the previous tree on the site, Courtyard Pavilion aims to promote the need to sustain native plant ecosystems in urban areas.

“The idea of inserting plants in the heart of the pavilion is to offer experiential contrast to the immediate and surrounding city spaces, which can feed hard and noisy,” Ali told Dezeen.

“Some of the plants will, over time, exceed the height of the canopy and further soften the intense mid-day sunlight through the void,” he continued.

Pink canopy in Somaliland by Rashid Ali Architects
Thin columns support the pitched canopy

Rashid Ali Architects, formerly known as RA Projects, was founded by Ali in 2011. Previous projects by the studio include the refurbishment of a house owned by fashion designer Roksanda Ilincic that features a blue steel staircase designed to look “like a sculpture in a gallery”.

The arrival of summer in the northern hemisphere has seen the completion of several other pavilion projects, including a tree-filled “floating forest” in Milan by Italian architect Stefano Boeri and London’s annual Serpentine Pavilion, which was designed by artist Theaster Gates this year.

The photography is by Lyndon Douglas.

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