entrepeneur

Erik Pol

For people travelling through the arid

landscape around Yene, Erik’s lush gardens seem almost like an oasis.

 

The minimalist house in the middle of the plot reflects European building traditions but also has a distinctive African feel.

The large, reddish-brown bricks were brought from another part of Senegal and hand-cut into useable but still rough pieces of different shapes and sizes.

 

They seem to beplaced at random, almost as if they had landed in the walls of a per -fectly planned architectural project simply

by chance.

A small village consisting of 15 kilometres of artificial beach along the Atlantic Ocean, about 45 kilometres south of Dakar and close to the larger town of Rufisque. The village is almost exclusively inhabited by fishermen.

 

The beach is beautiful and completely empty, with some abandoned houses slowly being reclaimed by the sea. Every now and then, you see a pirogue (small fishing boat, Ed.) sailing by, or a plume of smoke rising where people are wood-smo- king fish.

 

The whole effect is quite surreal. To me, it just doesn’t get any better than this.”

yene -

senegal

When Erik first came to Senegal about 16 years ago, Erik ran the African arm of his

business from a modern-style rented villa in Dakar.

There were several practical reasons for his

decision to move to Yene, 45 kilometres to the South, but he also wanted to get away

from the crowded city.

 

He bought 3,000 m. of land, and added

more soon afterwards: “I wanted to avoid eventually ending up in some kind of noisy

medina again, with a mosque, army bar- racks or a Qur’an school on every corner.

 

Now, I live among the trees, with the birds and the iguanas.

The generous use of wood further adds to the earthy look and feel of this house.

 

Erik built it in collaboration with architect Wim de Vos. “Wim had previously designed my home in Amsterdam, and he received an award for that design. He is a good ar- chitect. I do have to walk down afew steps to get from the kitchen to the most impor-

tant space – the outside terrace – but other than that, it’s a great house: spacious and sheltered, airy and transparent.”

Erik is currently working on building a second house in a 3-hectare orchard across the road, next to the workshop he built there years ago.

 

About forty local skilled workers are em- ployed on the site: choppers, woodworkers and masons, as well as craftsmen making

baskets and stools from the heaps of re- fuse and old shoes that wash ashore.

 

The stools and other polished wood ob- jects are made by boys from the Diourbel area, who grow up creating all kinds of objects from wood. “They are true artists who would amaze European artists if they saw them".

 

 

© 2016 by Mirjam Bleeker and Frank Visser / all rights reserved