Bolgatanga Library (1967)
Ghana National Construction Corporation
Bolgatanga, Ghana

The Bolgatanga Library was designed by Max Bond for the Ghana National Construction Corporation.  The Ghana Library Board had programmed several new regional libraries as part of the country’s campaign to achieve full literacy during the 1960s, and the library’s program reflects those concerns.  The design included reference, adult, and children’s sections, as well as a small auditorium for classes and events associated with the literacy program.

The design is based somewhat on local building forms, the Fra-Fra houses of the region.  The library itself is in fact four separate buildings under a reinforced concrete “umbrella,” with a ventilating space between the underside of this umbrella and the tops of the walls.  Each of the four major components is expressed as a separate unit that is entered from a common area.  The handling of masses with the softened corners of each of the four buildings, the predominance of solid wall rather than glazed areas, and the sequence of multiple-use spaces are all related to local building practice.

The building was designed to respond to the local hot, dry climate by natural means rather than by relying solely on air conditioning, and therefore has a low, overhanging roof and openings into the interior for  cross-ventilation.  Since its construction, the library has been extensively tested and found to be effective in moderating extreme temperatures.