Courtesy Aga Khan Award for Architecture
Playing with local vernaculars, master mason Lassiné Minta designed and built this striking mosque with volunteer craftsmen, members of its congregation. In this poor, rural region, buildings are typically constructed out of mud bricks, mortar made of clay and hardened rice bran, and timber for the roofs; their simple, curving lines minimize erosion. Yet when this mosque was erected in 1973, such buildings were beginning to lose ground to more expensive-and banal-imported concrete-and-steel structures. By honoring the mosque in 1983, the Aga Khan Trust for Architecture hoped to encourage exploration of traditional forms. Here, Minta has taken the unusual step of decorating the facade with pilasters that echo the interior's arches, topping them with sometimes contrapuntal pinnacles. The vented windows are another invention. While applauding the use of mud construction for its durability, climatic sensitivity, and recyclability, the jurors also noted the ironic fact that timber roofing is helping speed Mali's deforestation.