People gather at the Thread, an art collective in Senegal
Iwan Baan


Sinthian, Senegal

There are few Senegalese towns more remote than Sinthian, which is more than seven hours from the nearest major airport in Dakar. And yet, it has recently emerged as a vibrant cultural center, luring artists, musicians and filmmakers from around the world. Their destination: the Thread, a multi­purpose facility built by community members—in collaboration with architect Toshiko Mori and backed by the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation—to facilitate the exchange of art and ideas across cultures. In designing the structure, Mori eschewed her usual materials—it would cost too much to bring aluminum, steel and glass to the site—and instead took cues from local experts, who helped fashion a super­structure from bamboo and mud bricks and rig the roof to double as a rainwater collector (to aid during the dry months). The result, she says, is an iconic building that “relates to its own culture” instead of superimposing “another value on the community.” —Julia Zorthian

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