ORGANIZATION NAME: The Albers Foundation


SUMMARY: Thread is a method for sustainable development in Eastern Senegal that highlights social organization as the most moral and efficacious of interventions. It is a method reified and situated in a singular building. This architecture links the alleviation of cultural, agricultural, and economic stagnation, while connecting local and global communities.

PROBLEM SPACE: “Tambacounda, the southeastern region of Senegal, currently holds one of the highest rates per capita of emigrants of any region in West Africa. While there are many contributing factors, most significant are:
(1) agricultural failure resulting in food scarcity and economic uncertainty;
(2) cultural stagnation resulting in hopelessness, isolation, and the loss of traditions and identity; and (3) frustrated social organization, paradoxically both a cause and a consequence of the first two factors –
resulting in little forward momentum besides egress. Each of these factors is in urgent need of alleviation.

Sinthian is a rural village in the Missirah district of Tambacounda with a population of more than 1000 people. There, without direct access to a consistent water source, such as a river, the main source of income, subsistence farming, is particularly difficult given the 8-month dry season without rain. And its geographic isolation means its unique culture has little opportunity to share and cross-pollinate with the cultures in other parts of the region, country, or world.”

SOLUTION: “These critical needs are entirely inter-related; as such, they require an integrated solution. Thread was inaugurated in 2015 and acts as an agricultural hub for Sinthian and the surrounding villages, providing training, fertile land, and a meeting place for social organization of the local community. Concurrently, Thread is a socio-cultural center that houses artists dwellings and studio space for local and international artists residencies. The innovative roof design collects and retains rainwater, creating a viable source for the majority of these new agricultural projects during the eight-month dry season.

Most importantly, Thread is a flexible and evolving public space – acting at once as (inter)national artist residency, agricultural hub, community farm, water source, exhibition and performance venue, local library, children’s play gym, and village cell phone charger. While so varied a program might be problematic in some situations, the multivalent and ever-evolving functions of Thread’s building have allowed it to have nearly immediate results locally and globally: An association founded by 16 women to make use of Thread’s agricultural facility now boasts 140 all female members and has eradicated hunger during the hunger season for Sinthian, and the residency program has hosted over 30 artists from 18 different countries.”

CONTACT: [email protected]