Maison tropicale Niamey

2000

Tropical House in Niamey : discovery, dismantle and back to France. 

Gérald and I arrived in Niamey in October 2000, firmly determined to find the house if it still existed, which was far from certain. Obviously, we had no information on how to locate it.

After 3 days of searching and no results, someone told us about “the K6 iron shack” located in a discrete neighborhood behind the garage of the Presidential palace. The Niger River flows just below the site.
The information was good. We had been less than 500 meters from the house dozens of times and we had never suspected its existence at the end of a cul-de-sac dirt road.
Based on photographs from that time, we had been looking for a structure in an open space; the house we found was surrounded by a cement wall.
Our first glimpse of the overpanel and the roof over the wall was a very emotional moment.

We pushed back an old gate and there was the complete house standing in the middle of a vast deserted plot, intact and looking like “sleeping beauty” waiting for us to awaken it. The name “K6” was stenciled near the entrance……The rest of our adventure in Niger was pure bliss and unforgettable encounters. The house is stored in our warehouse, patiently awaiting its hour of glory.

Eric Touchaleaume

© Photo E. Touchaleaume. Archives Galerie 54, Paris.

The Niamey prototype predates the two Brazzaville prototypes and differ from them in many ways. The technical solutions used on this house are more basic overall. The first significant difference is that the house is built on a concrete slab covered with vitrified tiles instead of on a beam bearing structure and sheet steel floors, mounted on piers.

However, the ventilation system is more sophisticated, probably because it is hotter in Niamey than in the Congo:

The overpanels at the ends of the roof have large openings on the sides, which enhance the streamline design. On the Brazzaville models, only the two ends of the rafter are open.

The lateral shutters of the rafter work are activated through a connecting rod system that is operated from inside the house via knobs placed under the axial portal frames.

The glass on the portholes is not maintained by glass beads but by simple steel wire flexible clips.

The castors of the sliding doors are made of hard wood, probably boxwood. The Brazzaville sliding doors are equipped with steel tracks.

The ribs of the aluminum sheets of the brise-soleil shutters are horizontal in Niamey and vertical in Brazzaville to facilitate water drainage in a country with abundant rainfall.

Originally, the brise-soleil shutters at the two ends of the house descended to the ground as shown on documents from that time. We found the stanchions still in place but only the three upper rows of the shutters still existed.

The connecting rods for operating the brise-soleil shutters are adjusted by a sort of pliers made up of two spring jaws.

© Photo E. Touchaleaume. Archives Galerie 54, Paris.

© Photo E. Touchaleaume. Archives Galerie 54, Paris.

© Photo E. Touchaleaume. Archives Galerie 54, Paris.

© Photo E. Touchaleaume. Archives Galerie 54, Paris.

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