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Swawou Project Week 10 - Taking Shape

An exciting couple of weeks here on site, as the building begins to take a permanent footing within its surroundings. The mound at the front of the building has finally dispersed and we can begin to see the approach to the entrance. The mood on site is upbeat as the whole team continue to work hard creating this building. Comments on its individuality and how unique it is within Sierra Leone fly by every day and we can all feel the excitement as it builds and grows each day. The masons have learned the techniques and patterns and are progressing quickly now, albeit with a few mistakes and amendments occasionally so we are able to turn our attention to other areas of the site.

The landscaping is practically finished, shifting tons of earth from one side of the site to the other, filling in courtyards and preparing external walkways for the paving. Our senior mason Mr Samuel, has been bringing us different samples of flowers and some carpet grass samples to begin a small nursery. We will have a planting day with the girls from the school to start planting the different varieties in a few weeks.

Photographer, Peter Dibdin, and his wife and daughter (Becky and Suki) have arrived and they have a couple of jam packed weeks head of them. Peter is a talented portrait photographer so will be using his skills to profile some of our workers, suppliers, the school children and the people behind Swawou Primary School. He will also be here to take photos of the finished building. Becky will be holding several workshops with the girls including painting a mural and an architectural exercise which involves a lot of long straws and plenty of imagination! The straws were kindly donated by the V&A Musuem as part of Francis Kere's contribution to the recent "Sensing Spaces" exhibition.

Work has begun on the toilet block this week, and we have employed a local plumber. The latrine is now down to eight feet thanks to the guys working hard each day hacking through solid rock and battling against the rain as the latrine fills up with water each morning!

James, The Orkidstudio director, arrives next week along with students from the Welsh School of Architecture, who will be lending some extra hands on site, and we are having a big push to try and finish the masonry before they arrive. We expect the atmosphere on site to change over the following few weeks as the work begins to speed up and building begins to take on a finished forms.

Over the Easter weekend the workers held a football match, labourers vs masons. In the final three minutes of the match the referee missed a potential equalising goal and so the masons won, three goals to two. It was a difficult call for the referee, and we could question the referee's experience...but then the referee was Kirsty! Lots of running around, blowing the whistle and diffusing arguments between workers. A great afternoon. The following weekend was Independence Day for Sierra Leone so we watched the parades from a balcony above the street party. Quite an affair, with dressed up creatures, street parties, police barricades and plenty of dancing.