Located in West Africa, Liberia is currently undergoing a reconstruction phase after 14 years of civil war, a war that ended in 2003. As a country, Liberia currently faces serious political, financial, administrative, and organizational problems that will affect its future in numerous ways. Since the availability of comfortable and sustainable spaces for organizations working on rebuilding the country is limited, the Eco-Retreat Center design project will help to fill this shortage, creating a new, sustainable retreat center that will be accessible to all who live here, or that come to visit and to participate in the rebuilding of Liberia.
Education and water availability represent other major problems in Liberia. An estimated 80 percent of schools, health service structures, water wells, and sanitation facilities have been either destroyed or abandoned since 1998. Energy, sanitation, and water systems are therefore in dire need, thus making them very important considerations in the development of any project in Liberia, as they will serve as a foundation for other sustainable techniques and development strategies in the reconstruction of the country. This design project seeks to do this, and through a sensitive site design that places buildings, rain harvesting elements, water towers, and more into a complex and severely constrained site, this project can become a model for sustainable redevelopment in West Africa and beyond.
From a sustainability standpoint, the retreat center will create a combination of ecological, social, economic and aesthetic places for educational and/or social events. The sustainable design strategies are reflected in the overall site design, materials selection, and through the use of specific stormwater management strategies. Specifically, the retreat center will preserve and restore native plants, use environmental friendly building materials, and manage water and energy that can be collected, balanced, and utilized in the long term.
The design of the Eco-Retreat Center will meet the needs of all the potential users and create an ecological and sustainable place that is connected to the existing ecological system and environment.
Through the use of site analysis, user- and resident-analysis, precedent studies, and historical analysis, the design team developed a detailed site plan, and then site-specific design proposals that meet the need of the client. The final result will be used by the client in both fundraising efforts, and as a guide for actual site development in Liberia, leading to the creation of an innovative and important Eco-Retreat Center in West Africa.
- Li Chen, MLA Landscape Architecture
- Fei Dong, MLA Landscape Architecture
- Ying Li, MLA Landscape Architecture