Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Center for Women and Development by Atelier Masōmī Revealed

WORDS Cheri Morris RENDERS Supplied

A dedication to Liberia’s former president by Niger-based architecture and research firm atelier masōmī, the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Presidential Center for Women and Development (EJS Center) is the first ever presidential library dedicated to a female leader.

Set to be located in Liberia’s capital of Monrovia, overlooking the sea and near the presidential residence, the design takes inspiration from palava huts and madam Sirleaf’s unique ability to potentiate Liberia’s most abundant latent force of power: women. Alongside Liberian Architect Karen Richards Barnes, atelier masōmī reimagines circular tradition into a cluster of nine arresting mono-pitched forms that foster a space for collaboration and creativity.

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Center for Women and Development by Atelier Masōmī

A place of many firsts, the world’s first presidential library to be founded and commissioned by a female leader pays homage to Ellen Johnson Sirleaf as the first elected female head of state in Africa. Inside madam Sirleaf’s presidential archive, spanning from 2006 to 2018, is housed alongside exhibitions by South African architect Sumayya Vally.

READ MORE: Q&A with Architect Mariam Issoufou Kamara

“The design is a direct response to the history, climate, cultural and architectural heritage of Liberia,” said atelier masōmī Founder Mariam Issoufou Kamara. “The objective was to design a building that captured the sense of humility, service to a people, grounded in cultural authenticity and great vision that symbolises madam Sirleaf’s work.”

The structures will be built from a combination of local materials including raw earth and fired clay bricks, rubber wood and woven palm leaves. Courtyards used for events and workshops will interlink each block and flow seamlessly into a series of indoor exhibition spaces designed by Counterspace, along with a digital archive, teaching spaces and café with ocean views.

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