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Car-Free Village Offers Haven for East African Orphans

Global firm Urko Sanchez Architects—which has offices in Madrid, Mombasa, Kenya, and that country's capital of Nairobi—designed this car-free children's village in the east African nation of Djibouti, which the firm fashioned after a traditional medina. Located in the small coastal town of Tadjoura, the regional capital, the village comprises 15 houses for orphaned children cared for under the auspices of SOS Children's Villages International, which commissioned the 2,600-square-meter (about 27,980 square feet) project. Open, vehicle-free spaces were a priority for the design team, as were creating spaces with natural vegetation, in spite of the country's arid climate. Local builders helped act on plans by Urko Sanchez, and helped establish ways to naturally ventilate homes and release heat with passive techniques like strategically placed chimneys. The result is rather nice, with a look that riffs on vernacular styles that incorporate natural materials and an ochre hue.

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