East Timor | Venilale Community Hall

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Project Location:

Venilale, East Timor

Project Partner:

The Community of Venilale

Project Team:

Carlos Gueterres, Julio Tome de Silva, and Ben Spencer



Project Description:

The Venilale Community Meeting Hall was designed in collaboration with the people of Venilale, East Timor. It is located on the main street of Venilale and provides a venue for women, youth, farmers, craftspeople and other citizens to hold meetings, stage ceremonies, attend workshops and share ideas. It serves as a place of convergence and coordination and contributes to increased cooperation between Venilale’s citizens.


The Meeting Hall’s design embodies East Timor’s birth as a nation and the hopes of fledgling, fragile democracy. A series of bamboo frames form a box at the building’s core. They create a concurrent sense of enclosure and permeability and define a place of gathering that is accessible to all of Venilale’s citizens. A broad single pitch roof floats above offering protection from the elements and a sense of security. Open ends connect the Meeting Hall to Venilale’s main street. They frame a view of the mountains beyond, accentuating the beauty of the landscape and inspiring Venilale’s citizens to look towards their future.


The Venilale Community Meeting Hall will be constructed from the locally grown bamboo, Dendrocalamous asper (10-12cm dia.), preserved with the environmentally safe preservative borax. Adjustable exterior bamboo screens will allow Meeting Hall occupants to adjust daylight and wind levels according to the season, the weather and their preferences. Adjustable interior bamboo screens will allow occupants to the divide the center into multiple rooms and hold several meetings at once. The Hall’s roof is optimized for solar panels and supplies power to scores of Venilale homes. It also serves as a rainwater catchment surface, channeling rainwater into storage tanks for later use in cooking, cleaning and irrigation.


Unfortunately, the project has not yet been constructed due to the civil war in East Timor. However, the design description and images were discovered on the Open Architecture Network by the Ventarron community in rural Peru. They recognized that the bamboo-based design could serve their needs well and engaged Architects Without Borders-Seattle to work in their community. See the Ventarron project here.


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