Creating a magical world: Gratitude

My Magazine 2022/03
7 min
Author: Angelika Mitterer
“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.” This sentence by Cicero shows the importance of the feeling of gratitude for us humans. It is a deep feeling of bliss, deepest contentment and a pleasant warmth that flows through our body. Apparently, and also proven by many studies, the feeling of gratitude has a strong influence on our own well-being.

And although gratitude elicits such a beautiful response from our bodies, we rarely reflect on the things we can be grateful for in life. Therefore, especially in these times of change, it is important to relearn the feeling of gratitude. This not only has an impact on our well-being but clearly also on our mental and physical health. Gratitude is really healthy and fortunately, it can be trained.

The Gambia’s past

Here in the Gambia, people feel a real sense of gratitude. Unlike in the western world, the people in the Gambia don’t take many things for granted. For centuries, the continent was exploited. An upward development of the continent was prevented by the enslavement of young, strong men and the abduction of attractive, young women. Colonialism and the Cold War also made successful advancement impossible. Despite all this, or perhaps because of it, especially in the poor countries of Africa, gratitude is a widespread feeling felt by all.

Roots of Kunta Kinteh

“Roots” is a very popular American novel and telenovela that tells of the country’s sad past. It tells the story of a Gambian named Kunta Kinteh, who was enslaved to North America in 1750 and refused to change his name. As a result of his unruly behaviour and two attempts to escape, Kunta Kinteh was repeatedly mistreated by his masters in America. The heartless and cruel story of his descendants is also taken up in the novel and the film adaptation. The story of this famous slave has become independent over time, it has become identity-forming, profitable and a kind of modern myth. In the Gambia, a special resort concept, which consists of smaller houses, is named after this impressive figure (Beach Hotel | Bar Restaurant | Kunta Kinteh Beach Complex). The owner has a formative childhood behind him too. Despite everything, after a lot of hard work, he made it from the simple child of a poor family here in the Gambia with ambition, determination and visionary ideas to today's successful and grateful businessman. His idea with the village character of this facility and the traditional Gambian management structure demonstrates the deep-rooted values of the country's qualities. "The smiling coast of Africa", as the Gambia is also called, simply proves that despite the difficult past and the resulting lags in general prosperity, the people here have not lost their sense of gratitude for life here on earth or every pleasant little thing that brightens the day. They have not lost their positive attitude to life and are far ahead of the people of the Western world in that respect.

With an intuition for the design

Appreciating this beach resort background, to convey the roots of the land and the deep feeling of gratitude, and yet to make the best use of the available space, was a major architectural challenge for me and our team of MASThave architecture as project developers (MASThave Architektur - Funktion - Design) and fundamental IN∙US partner (The Gambia - creating a magical world! | My Gambia (my-gambia.com). To combine careful handling of the resource land with a sustainable concept including the continuation of the village character in order to give something back to the people in the Gambia with this project through the upgrading of the construction quality and the creation of well-paid new jobs, is the basis for the design of the extension of the Kunta Kinteh Complex, directly on one of the most beautiful beaches in the Gambia. Four individual houses, each with 5 generously proportioned flats with up to 4 bedrooms and a fifth house for parking, the reception and various conference rooms, nestled between a picturesque stretch of beach and a natural green zone, form a high-quality, innovative and – what is extremely important in the Gambia – a self-sufficient, sustainable building concept that will offer residents a high quality of life on all levels.

“The Kunta Kinteh Village” Coming soon! - MASThave Immobilien (masthave-immobilien.com) as a home is meant to provide strength and security, a home there should make you strong for your everyday life. The more consciously the design of the personal living space is dealt with, the more positive and purposeful the effect of the home can be for all residents. The individual, the community and also the emotion of gratitude are absolutely central to this project; the building structure and design provide the framework for free development and ensure an independent and positive environment. Individual high-energy spaces for strengthening the personality and promoting new life goals are created through the synthesis of clear architecture, attention to the energetic flow in the spatial structure and the use of colours and materials.

Awareness for the future

In the planning phase as well as during the implementation, special attention is paid to sustainability and longevity. The entire building complex is designed to be almost self-sufficient in relation to energy and water, thanks to the integration of photovoltaics and an own borehole, thus ensuring system independence and security of supply. Competent management enables the owners to act more flexibly and to have an individual, independent lifestyle - through built architecture in local, financial and spiritual form in line with the basic idea of ​​the IN∙US values. (THE KUNTA KINTEH VILLAGE - MASThave)

However, in addition to the energetic interplay of people and space, the project also focuses on connecting and thoughtful appreciation of nature. Here in the Gambia in particular, much of life takes place outdoors, and so the modern architecture of this design concept dissolves the boundaries of space and seeks to harmoniously connect the indoor and outdoor spaces through floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors, large panoramic windows and many terrace areas. The energy of the surrounding nature flows directly into the open designed living area and in the form of draught wind, this is also used for naturally cooling the apartments. A fresh breeze directly from the beach and a pleasant scent from the plants from the adjacent nature zone in the rear area of the building complex also contribute to strengthening the immune system and getting the circulation going. Natural sunlight streaming in from three sides also provides bright, boundless-looking spaces and has a great influence on the human organism. The effect of daylight stimulates people, relaxes, affects the mood, attention, cognitive performance as well as the sleep-wake cycle.

We can consciously choose our environment and living space to have a direct impact on our well-being and health and have a successful future and a happy life. If we reclaim the beauty of life, nature and people, we will feel deep gratitude for all that we are allowed to experience day after day. If we conjure up a feeling of fulfilment, love, contentment and an optimistic attitude to life, then we will realize that there is something positive in every situation, in every change and transformation.

With this expansion of the Kunta Kinteh Beach complex as an IN∙US project in connection with the large IN∙US network, it will be easier for people here to take a first step in reflecting on their lives and returning to the feeling of gratitude. Everyone is cordially invited to find out about our projects and our community and, of course, to participate in our network with their own qualities.

My insider tip in The Gambia of the month!

Kunta Kinteh Island (until 2011 James Island) (Kunta Kinteh Island - World Heritage Site - Pictures, Info and Travel Reports), a small inland island in the River Gambia that is, unfortunately, getting smaller and smaller, tells of the history of the country. Piece by piece it is being eroded by the River Gambia and because of its historic importance, it has been added to the UNESCO World Heritage List. Located about 30 kilometres from the mouth of the river into the Atlantic Ocean and about five kilometres from the village of Juffure, it is a popular excursion destination for tourists. The island tells the story from the pre-colonial period to the independence of the Gambia in 1965. In particular, during the time of the West African slave trade, the island of Kunta Kinteh and its remaining old building structures played an important role. It documents both, the beginning of this dark chapter in African-European relations and the abolition of the slave trade. The island was also the starting point of early European exploratory expeditions into the African hinterland. In any case, this is an excursion that will leave you with a deep sense of gratitude for our lives today!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Angelika Mitterer
The story of the Austrian architect Angelika Mitterer tells us that the only constant in life is a change and how this can be used as an opportunity for a positive change in one's lifestyle habits.

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