Francis Kéré unveils nature-inspired Benin National Assembly
Francis Kéré’s new design for the National Assembly for the Republic of Benin is inspired by the West African country’s culture, traditions and nature
The parliament of the Republic of Benin has commissioned Francis Kéré of Berlin-based studio Kéré Architecture to design an assembly building in the country’s capital of Porto-Novo. The new National Assembly will come to replace the parliament’s current home, which was in need of a refresh.
Kéré drew on a local West African tree for inspiration. The architect was influenced by the palaver tree, and ‘the age-old West African tradition of meeting under a tree to make consensual decisions in the interest of a community.’ The team aimed for the new architecture to read as a symbol for democracy and the country’s culture. As a result the structure is divided in two distinct sections – the trunk-like lower part and the upper ‘crown’, which alludes to a tree’s foliage.
The grand assembly hall is located on the lower section, making the most of the dynamic curves and permeable nature of the structure. An open air courtyard sits at its heart. The upper areas contain offices and auxiliary functions, protected behind a series of undulating, vertical ‘fins’ on the facade.
Responding to Porto-Novo’s hot climate, Francis Kéré and his team placed a strong focus on outdoor areas and natural ventilation. Deep recesses on the facade make sure the interiors get plenty of shade, while all circulation areas are easily ventilated through the central courtyard. A large part of the site is dedicated to greenery and becomes a public park full of native West Afircan flora, while a roof terrace at the top offers sweeping views of the city and water. §