Saturday, October 29, 2005

n'Kozi Homes

Their website says"...n'Kozi Homes' mission is to contribute towards "greening" the environment through the delivery of integrated housing solutions whereby the free and equitable flow of information and the deployment of appropriate technologies and knowledge networks are applied to enhance and deepen citizen's rights, access, usage and participation towards an open society.. In doing this to become a leading provider throughout the region, of innovative, practical, energy efficient and affordable (less expensive than any conventional structures) geodesic structures suitable for traditional housing as well as the government subsidized low-cost housing sector, holiday homes, clinics, schools, resorts, agricultural buildings, game reserves, tuck shops, spaza shops, granny flats, thatched gazebos, storage facilities etc.,.

n'Kozi Homes is focused to invest in energy efficient housing, and in the development of strong communities through the support of community development financial institutions and socially conscious venture capital funds.

n'Kozi Homes has incorporated the delivery of clean, efficient, sustainable and renewable energy technologies to meet the energy needs of under-served populations, thereby reducing the environmental and health consequences of existing energy use patterns..."

Thursday, October 27, 2005

How to Build a Small Earthbag Dome

Kelly Hart says"...I recently received an email from a gentleman in Pakistan expressing interest in dome technology for building earthquake-resistant housing in that country. The massive earthquake a few weeks ago leveled thousands of homes, and the government is looking for ways to rebuild in safer ways. I responded that I thought that earthbag building would indeed be superior to conventional (un-reinforced masonry) building, and that I would put together a description of how to go about building a small dome that could serve for emergency (or more permanent) housing.

So I pulled out a series of photos of building my first experimental earthabg/papercrete dome, a small (14 foot diameter) building that could serve a variety of functions such as cabin, studio, storehouse, etc. I assembled these pictures along with text describing exactly how to go about constructing the dome on three interconnected pages, beginning at Green Home Building .

It seems to me that given the alarming rate of natural disasters striking our planet, displacing millions of people and disrupting their lives, we would be well advised to rebuild homes that can withstand earthquakes, hurricanes, and floods. Earthbag domes have this potential...and they are inexpensive and easy to build, along with being environmentally friendly!.."

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Cobtun House

RIBA press says"...Cobtun House, Worcestershire, built of mud, straw and corrugated iron, and designed by Associated Architects, has scooped this year’s RIBA Sustainability Award. The announcement was made tonight at a special awards ceremony for The RIBA Stirling Prize in association with The Architects’ Journal at the Royal Museum in Edinburgh.

RIBA Sustainability Award rewards the building which demonstrates most elegantly and durably the principles of sustainable architecture. The winner was presented with a cheque for £5,000.

The RIBA Sustainability Award judges – Bill Gething, Bill Bordass, Jeremy Till and Tony Chapman - had this to say:
“For sheer vision, the seamless and unobtrusive way the design was tailored to the client’s needs, and the commitment and persistence of architect and client, the judges thought Cobtun House was a worthy winner of the RIBA Sustainability Award. Not only were some aspects of its construction truly innovative - particularly in the use of materials such as earth, sand and aggregate from the site itself - the architect and the contractors so entered into the spirit of the job that they made a point of arriving on site by public transport or bike.

“The outcome is inspirational and pleases not only the client and his family and friends, but is regularly visited by people keen to learn all about sustainable construction...”

Photo Courtesy of

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Kenneth Cobonpue's Minimalist Furniture Design

Inhabitat says"...Filipino designer Kenneth Cobonpue has good design in his genes. His mother, Betty Cobonpue, founded a furniture design and manufacturing company in the Phillipines in the early seventies, where she gained a reputation for her innovations in the use of rattan. Kenneth left the islands to go to Pratt Institute for Industrial Design and has been back in his native region for nearly ten years, integrating his traditional design heritage with his industrial training.

Kenneth Cobonpue uses a vast array of native, natural materials in his work, including palms, seagrasses, bamboo, abaca, and rattan. The results reflect his mixed background; certain pieces look like they belong in a thatched hut in the tropics (such as the slightly elfen Voyage Bed below), while others look ready for a starkly minimalist office or modern home (Segovia and Kabuki above, YinYang and SeeU-SeeMe, bottom)..."

Photos Courtesy of Asia Week and Kenneth Cobonpue

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Tree Houses and Love Shacks

Ahadu Abaineh's ideology is to alleviate the housing crises endemic in Ethiopia and other developing countries as well as encourage re-forestation. His idea of making a building out of living trees and using appropriate technology to construct it impressed members of the jury of the AR+D Awards of 2003.

The Architectural Review says"... Ahadu Abaineh proposes to ameliorate the problem by growing trees, He suggests that trees will both greatly improve the urban ecological balance and form the structure of houses that can reduce consumption of expensive and environmentally destructive manufactured products. His proposal is simple: use growing trees to make the basic load-bearing structure of a house (basically one tree at each corner), create a frame out of untreated poles, then create walls out of a flexible and easily altered material like mud, used in traditional fashion. The only factory-made material needed extensively is the corrugated metal of the roof, which protects the fragile walls and channels rain to water the trees. The structure took six weeks to erect..."

Australian company Smartshax seems to have also been inspired by similar concepts in Aboriginal architecture and have come out with the "Love Shack" as reported in Inhabitat

Saturday, October 08, 2005

13th Century Larabanga Mosque

Referred to as one of the holiest sites for Muslims in Ghana the Larabanga Mosque was built by the Moors around 1421 with a lot of similarities to the Great Timbuktu Mosque.

Recently restored back to its striking white colour, which had faded over the years over its sun hardened mud render. These mud constructed buildings have shown that mud is equally a durable building material as cement and offers less CO2 emissions than the later, cement.

With sustainable construction and Eco-friendly materials gaining popularity in Europe companies like UMBRA GmbH now lead the pack in providing consultancy in the field knowledge and techniques of earthen architecture.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Amphibious houses

In a story already featured in boing boing.We-make-money-not says"...
The Dutch are gearing up for climate change with amphibious houses. If rivers rise above their banks, the houses rise upwards as well.

37 "swimming" houses are already strung along a branch of the Maas. At first glance, they seem quite unremarkable. The cellar, in this case, is not built into the earth, but on a platform. The hollow foundation of each house works in the same way as the hull of a ship, buoying the structure up above water. To prevent the houses from floating away, they slide up two steel posts - and as the water level sinks, so they sink back down again..."

Photo Courtesy of We-make-money-not