The Mountain

The Mountain, a film written by Fathy Ghanem, tells the story of building the village of New Gourna by architect Hassan Fathy. Filmed in the village of New Gourna itself in 1965, it is incredibly important from an architectural perspective, however, Hassan Fathy never mentioned the film in any of his writings or speeches. More information at

Koudougou Central Market, Burkina Faso

The impact of Koudougou’s Central Market, designed by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) / Laurent Séchaud / Pierre Jequier for the Koudougou Municipality and completed in 2005, is twofold: at the urban scale, it reinforces and enhances the fabric of a mid-sized town, providing a monumental civic space for commercial and social exchange. On the level of construction, it introduces simple and easily assimilated improvements to a traditional material – stabilised earth – which allow it to achieve its full aesthetic and environmental potential. By using blocks of compressed earth, the market not only demonstrates the superior climactic performance of the local building material, but also shows how humble earth blocks can be used to create a sophisticated pattern language of vaults, domes and arches.

The market is the third of its type to be built under the direction of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) in cooperation with the Programme de Développement des Villes Moyennes of the Burkina Faso government, which aims to strengthen the country’s mid-sized towns through building commercial infrastructures. The market was the result of a truly participatory process that brought together and engaged the entire community in the site selection, design and construction of the market as well as its continuing use. A 1:1 prototype of a typical retail space was constructed which helped facilitate communication between the different collaborators, simultaneously allowing refinement of the design, development of innovative construction techniques and practical training of the local masons.

Chapel of Reconciliation

Built by architects Peter Sassenroth und Rudolf Reitermann in 1999, this small chapel made of rammed earth replaces the former Church of Reconciliation, a historicist church built in 1894 which happened to be situated on the death strip when the Berlin wall was erected in 1961. The old church stood there vacant and isolated, abused as a guarding tower for East German border patrol, until it was finally blown up by East Germany in 1987 – just two years before the wall eventually was torn down itself. the community of the former church decided it wanted to have its church back. The completed chapel is enveloped by a wall made of rammed earth, composed out of clay and smaller pieces of bricks of the exploded church. For more information visit the Chapel of Reconciliation home page.