As part of an inter-disciplinary and integrated approach for the development of a typical Sahelien village, the Literacy Centre was built to meet community needs while offering an opportunity to introduce new design elements and test appropriate technology. Chikal Literacy Centre should not be seen as an individual building but should be considered in the large context of " Project Tapis Vert's anti-desertification programme. The long range goal of Project Tapis Vert (PTV) is to improve the quality of life of the villagers in the areas stricken by desertification and the consequent low agricultural productivity. To assist in alleviating hunger and malnutrition on a long-term basis PTV has the following objectives: to institute simple, repetitive, inexpensive and appropriate means to increase food production; and to develop techniques and methods of sustaining programmes of long-term action at the village level. The construction research and activities that are part of this project are intended to demonstrate or assess new technologies that are appropriate, and are a response to the necessity of finding alternatives for the use of wood in construction.
The objectives of this sector as for the project, in general, are ambitious: To investigate solutions to reduce or eliminate the use of wood in village buildings; To investigate methods of making traditional buildings more resistant to the elements; and To provide training and technical assistance to local masons and villagers who are interested in proven building techniques.
The building consist of two inter-connecting spaces flexible to house small or large group teaching activities. Both spaces are square in plan and are covered with a 3.5 m diameter dome . The western end of the building contains the entrance foyer and a wind-catcher. Climatic data gathered by PTV determined the orientation of the building. Because the prevailing winds come from the south-southwest during the hot dry season, the Literacy Centre was built with a wind-catcher and with major windows facing south. Foundations were constructed using cement blocks; walls were made of mud block bearing walls; and vaults and domes are protected by a mixture of sand & clay plus 5% cement.