Common Room, Hargeisa Town Hall

Rashid Ali Architects, Somaliland, 2020



Photography by Lyndon Douglas     Download Original

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The Waiting Room / veranda is the first structure in the city of Hargeisa in Somaliland to be entirely made out of timber

It is positioned in front of a small existing building that functions as the city government’s land registry office, within a large courtyard that is formed by a cluster of municipality buildings dating back to the British colonial era. It functions as a waiting area and social space for visitors and staff.

The idea was to design and build a small contemporary building, while also introducing and experimenting with materials and construction techniques that are not familiar locally. Our aim was not to use such materials just for the sake of it, but to build in a relatively short time, from pre-fabricated timber components and leave possibility for disassembling and for reuse in future. The structure is made of a series timber frames that are expressed structurally as an envelope.

The rear wall of the structure with exposed frames acts as a new skin to the existing dilapidated building. The inside of the timber mullions facing the courtyard are lined with opal polycarbonate to defuse direct sun light. The short sides are open; allowing for a breeze to cool the interior and function as exits and entrances.

The whole structure is raised from the ground on concrete blocks to avoid damage from storm water that flows through the courtyard during the rainy season. Steps and a retaining wall that forms a bench are made from concrete; creating the conceptual duality of light and heavy with the timber. When lit at night it transforms in quality and presence and turns into a lantern.


  • Begun: Jul 2020
  • Completed: Aug 2020
  • Floor area: 30m2
  • Sector: Civic
  • Total cost: £9,500
  • Funding: Public / Local government
  • Tender date: Jul 2020
  • Procurement: n/a
  • Address: Hargeisa, Somaliland, Somalia