The Centre International du Commerce Extérieur du Sénégal (CICES) is unlike anything else in sub-Saharan Africa. The 19.5-hectare convention centre, located in the city of Dakar, is characterized by daring triangular and trapezoidal forms. Traditional Senegalize motifs blend seamlessly with the modernist, early-1970s designs of architects Jean-François Lamoureux and Jean-Louis Marin.
In recent years, the architecture at CICES has begun to deteriorate, largely as a result of neglect. Now, Daniels Faculty associate professor Aziza Chaouni will have an opportunity to help reverse the site's decline, thanks to a $190,000 (U.S.) Keeping it Modern grant from the Getty Foundation.
The Keeping it Modern grant was established in 2014 to address a worldwide lack of expertise in preserving modernist buildings. These structures are often misunderstood by their owners, which can lead to them being damaged in renovations or demolished altogether. And many of them were built using experimental systems and materials that simply don't stand the test of time.
As the principal investigator of CICES's Keeping it Modern grant, Chaouni will work with a Senegalese architect, Mourtada Gueye, to enact a multi-step preservation process. Chaouni and Gueye will perform research and data collection, conduct an in-depth diagnostic study of CICES's buildings and infrastructure, and develop a comprehensive conservation plan for the complex.
This won't be Chaouni's first time championing CICES's built heritage. In February, she led an international workshop in which students from three countries, including a contingent from the Daniels Faculty, convened at CICES to study the site. The success of the workshop helped raise awareness of CICES's value as an exemplar of African modernist design. (Daniels students Clara Ziada, Cheryl Wei, Christian Paez Diaz, and Noor Alkhalili, who joined the workshop, will be releasing a publication about the trip in August.)
Chaouni was a recipient of a previous Keeping it Modern grant, in 2017, for the purpose of developing a conservation plan for Morocco's modernist Sidi Harazem bath complex, designed by architect Jean-François Zevaco.