Boubacar Doumbia designed the monumental architecture
of Ndomo with the hope to increase the workshop’s visibility.
Located within a 3-hour-drive distance from the capital of Mali,
this orcher-orange structure quickly became a must-see
for any tourist visiting Ségou.
Standing in front of the place, with cows, goats, and children strolling on the grass surrounding it, few can remain indifferent to the primitive beauty. The adobe buildings are designed in the Sudano-Sahelian style, typical of ancient Malian earthen architecture. Staying true to the original construction methods, builders put up the framework with bamboo, and built with adobe bricks made from a mixture of red clay, straw, and rice husks.
The Ndomo complex consists of three main buildings with a training room, a dyeing, soaking and drying area, a shop, and a canteen. When visitors step in, they can observe artisans at work, or join textile dyeing demonstrations where they get to learn about vegetable dyes, the meaning of symbols used on bogolan, and the history of Ndomo. At the end of each demonstration, participants are encouraged to try their hands on creating their own bogolan on scraps of cotton. All the programs are free of charge, but as guests walk through the art gallery and enter the gift shop, they often find it difficult to leave without purchasing a few pieces of the beautiful bogolan.
As a place used for frequent gathering, Ndomo’s adobe complex is designed to naturally enhance ventilation and air flow, like an air conditioning system that doesn’t require any electricity. The kitchen has a traditional wood-fired stove with built-in pots, in which bark and leaves are boiled to dye fabrics. A waste recycling system transforms the wood ash into compost for farmers in the neighborhood, and reuses the boiled plants as fuel. Moreover, to ensure the dyeing work has minimal impact on the environment,Doumbia has planted water lilies in the ponds near Ndomo to filter water and absorb any possible pollutants.
At Ndomo, the imposing architecture continues to amaze, but a tour behind the magnificent entrance unveils the secret: it is the mindfully designed system that combines traditional practices, ecological interactions, and organic development for the entire community, bringing the heritage craft to a sustainable future.
Words: MINZUU Photos: Mamadou Dramé/World Architecture