'an italian architect has transformed life in a Mali village' Tamassin Ford link to The Guardian 'a unique work that reveals the need to reconsider the use of light in public spaces' Xavier trteys link to El Pais 'recycled bikes repurposed into street lamps, provide light to the night of Mali villages' Maja Fueter link to NZZ 'coverage from the villages' Sebastien Rieussec link to Die Zeit 'a fascinating research on ethnography and design' Giampaolo Colletti link to La Repubblica

FOROBA YELEN collective light for rural Mali
a work by Matteo Ferroni

Foroba Yelen is a forefront solution to overcome darkness in rural Mali created by the italian architect Matteo Ferroni in 2010 to homage the rich malian culture with a new tool, a new space, a new beauty.

Turn the tree shade into light

'I considered light a cultural phenomena -rather then a technological challenge- wishing to brighten life rather than space. Ultimately I turned the tree shade into light, pursuing harmony between tool, culture and nature'. M. Ferroni

P. Kropotkin, Fields Factories and Workshops

Moving from Peter Kropotkin writings on independent communities, in 2010 arch Ferroni ran an anthropological study on rural Mali looking for signs of collaboration within social ties, work and geography. Eventually, he introduced the concept of 'collective light' , a portable lamppost shared as tool for work, education and cults, as opposite to conventional public space lighting.

Lighting tool

In 2011 Matteo Ferroni created the first prototype of portable lamp from an old bike. Since then he worked out its details with local craftsmen so that it could be replicateed anywhere in Mali. One year later, through the expertise of lighting engineers, even the LED unit could be worked on site.


On the initiative of Fondazione eLand the project was experimented in the Commune Rurale de Cinzana. Local craftsmen were trained and kits of four lamps were locally manufactured and delivered to women collectives from 25 villages and 3 health care centres. The experience provided work and generated a new life after dark when everyone is back to the village… this tree of light impressively improved the life of a community accustomed to the glimmer of flashlights and the moonlight.


The project is a replicable model of a potentially huge impact on energy use. Fondazione eLand will soon release a handbook to allow every community to make their own lamps. For enquiries write to forobayelen@eland.org

project run by

in partnership with

with the support of


Alassane Dimbo Keita (Faso Gnietaa), Yusuke Katsura (JICA), Ruvani Fonseka (Peace Corps), Youssouf Tata Cissé (ethnologist), Mauro Favalli (lighting engineer), Rokia Traoré (singer composer), Valentina Dellavia (scenographer), Aly Kouriba (IER Mali), the women association of Sanogola village


Mention of Hounor at the City to City Barcelona FAD Award

Lamp Award for urban and landscape lighting

project permanently on show at the Biosphere de Montreal


Fondazione eLand will release a handbook to allow every community to make their own lamps


stage talk performed by the project's author arch Matteo Ferroni


Museo Nacional de Antropologia (14.02-05.05.2014 Madrid), L'Albergueria (28.06-21.11.2014 Iglesia de la Pietat, Vic)

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FOROBA YELEN ® is a registered trademark, all rights reserved to Fondazione eLand. All rights of photos, videos and drawings reserved to Matteo Ferroni ©