In Ghanaian surfing Mecca, a community-oriented, award-winning renovation

A tiny renovation project, the winner of Holcim Awards 2023 Gold prize, maximizes the social contribution of architecture in building identity of community and place.

Busua, a small village on Ghana's west coast, is a 'Mecca' for surfers who gather here from all over the country to try and ride the big wave. Along the endless sandy beach, amidst the lush vegetation and scattered tiny buildings, architects Glenn DeRoché and Juergen Strohmayer renovated the one-room building that houses Surf Ghana (an organisation that promotes youth empowerment through sport) and is the main meeting point for young people in the area.

The project, with a strictly limited budget, has preserved the planivolumetrical layout of the existing building, with the sole demolition of the deteriorated double-pitch roof, replaced with a concrete accessible flat roof so as to double the building's walkable area.

On the ground floor, the single room has been remodelled and every single centimetre exploited to accommodate different rooms: a common room that serves as a classroom or dormitory for surfers visiting during the high season, a bathroom, and a room for washing and storing equipment. An alternating tread staircase leads to the roof terrace, where cylindrical masses protruding from the slab become supports for hammocks where to take a break from the wind and waves.

DeRoché Strohmayer, Community surf lodge, Busua, Ghana 2023

The project, awarded with the Holcim Awards 2023 Gold prize, adopted simple but efficient measures to ensure environmental sustainability and microclimatic well-being, thanks to carefully selected local materials and passive design techniques.

For the masonry work and consolidation of the existing structures, locally available laterite was used to create a cement mix that is salt-resistant but low in carbon. Imported formwork was replaced with local raffia, a material widely used in the region's villages.

The slightly raised roof over the existing walls and the large sliding openings at the opposite ends of the building encourage cross-ventilation flows, while the generous roof overhang and the sunscreen at the back allow for shading.

DeRoché Strohmayer, Community surf lodge, Busua, Ghana 2023

The work is the result of a participatory process with the community, which was actively involved in the co-design and construction phases: a minimal piece of architecture but with a high potential for social impact, functional to the construction of a cohesive and competent community, gathered around a space that is a magnet for life and relations.

Structural engineering:
Richard Ofori Addo
Main contractor:
Surf Ghana

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