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Archiprix 2021

Poku Oso | Conservatorium Suriname

A sound environment where the cultural heritage of Surinam is being exhibited. Poku Oso is the home of the new Conservatory of Surinam.

Welkom in de Cultuurtuin. — © Lindsey van de Wetering

Designed as a new typology of open-air school, it provides an accessible and musical sound environment that is to provide a sense of connection. In its rooms, students can learn from one another; these are rooms that stimulate creativity, curiosity and movement so as to develop a stronger community.

The Cultuurtuin in the heart of Paramaribo

Students at the conservatory learn about the music and culture of Suriname. The music of all the country’s ethnic groups has been handed down since colonial times and is now part of Surinamese culture. To know your roots enables you to develop your full potential. The most suitable site for Conservatorium Suriname (Poku Oso) is the Cultuurtuin, a place at the heart of society. Often referred to as the ‘Cul’, the garden of culture is currently a neglected musical landscape full of hidden treasures in the centre of the capital Paramaribo. This botanical testing ground was built in 1898 to experiment with native and exotic plants, trees and cultivated crops from almost every continent. The unique trees attract many bird species that join with the conservatory in flooding the garden with music. There is the dawn chorus every morning at six o’clock sharp (the ‘sixi urus’).

The music buildings of Poku Oso

All the carefully sited buildings function independently as if musical instruments, such as a woodwind instrument or an apinti drum. These sound different at different times of the day. I have composed a sound trail in the tropical garden in the midst of the city. The new buildings of the conservatory are related to the unique traditional wooden houses of Suriname. All the houses on site, large or small, belong to a family but also exhibit their own personality, defined by the type of music they make and by their particular place in the garden. Titei Oso, the string house, is a sound box, where the strings along the walls vibrate with the music, the rain and the wind. Winti Oso, the woodwind house, is assembled from architectural ‘mouthpieces’ attached to long tubes that scatter low and high notes throughout the Cultuurtuin. The thoughtfully placed buildings together function as an orchestra exhibiting the rich culture of Surinam.

A new typology for an open-air school

With the arrival of this music village the garden comes to life, its sounds and textures combining in a kind of performance art. The whole garden makes music! Each place has its own sound. Surinamese tones prevail in this city garden in Paramaribo. Poku Oso is the conservatory that carries within it the cultural values of Suriname, from landscape to detail, from building typology to use, from culture to methods of construction. The design is an appeal for a targeted approach to the delicate history, landscape, climate, architecture and users of a place. Music is the language we all speak...

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About Lindsey van de Wetering

Summer of 2020 I graduated as an architect at the Academie van Bouwkunst Amsterdam with Poku Oso. With this design I was one of the winners of the Archirprix 2021.

I describe my way of designing as sensitively challenging, atmospheric and surprising, respectful with a 'think local' mindset.

APINTI OSO | Het drumhuis. — © Lindsey van de Wetering

WINTI OSO | Het blaashuis. — © Lindsey van de Wetering

TITEI OSO | Het snaarhuis. — © Lindsey van de Wetering

TUTU OSO | Het koperblaashuis.

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