Monday, December 25, 2006


Africa now has its first Automobile design association called AADA.

According to their website the aim of the association is " bring together Automotive design enthusiasts, artists of all ages, professional designers and design students, of all nationalities, to promote design education, African culture, Heritage, and to encourage automotive design practice in Africa.."

AADA's goal is " develop and create a brand new automotive design language, A car that captures, Africa's rich culture and heritage..."

It will be good to witness in ones lifetime an African car 100 percent designed and built in Africa as some Ghanian's are already doing.

Photos courtesy of

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Ethiopia born Rahel Belatchew Lerdell, Sweden's Architect of the Year 2006. writes about Ethiopia born Rahel Belatchew Lerdell, Sweden's Architect of the Year 2006.

"...Rahel Belatchew Lerdell was appointed Architect of the Year by receiving 'Det Stora Formpriset' (Swedish for 'The Great Design Award') from Sweden's Residence Magazine..."

"...Rahel was born in Ethiopia in 1969, and grow up in Uppsala, Sweden. After receiving a Masters Degree in Architecture from Ecole Spéciale d'Architecture in Paris, Rahel worked as an architect in Paris, Luxemburg and Tokyo. After a decade of working abroad, she returned to Sweden in the year of 2000. Today Rahel runs her own architectural office 'RB Arkitektur', with both private and public clients. Rahel's architecture has attracted much attention in international media and has also been published in several architectural books..."

"...he jury, chaired by Residence's Editor-in-Chief Mårten Niléhn, recognized that some authors write the same book over and over again or return to the same character year after year. And some architects return to the same forms in an on-going greatest hits collection. Rahel Belatchew Lerdell does not belong to them. If you want to be a trademark, a Frank Gehry, a superstar who signs his or her autograph in steel and concrete
against the metropolitan skylines, it is an advantage to have certain characteristics and manners that are easy to distinguish..."

"...Another way to create a trademark is to deliberately try to drown your own attributes and creative tics, and start every building project from a blank sheet of paper. In which case a personal undertone is most often maintained, and for Rahel Belatchew Lerdell it is a certain continental elegance that shines through her buildings. They could as easily be situated in Paris as in Stockholm..."

"...As a Swedish version of Herzog & de Meuron she surprises with all her projects. Her architecture has got that certain something that you recognize when you see it but which is very hard to capture - our age. Rahel Belatchew Lerdell's design is contemporary and lasts long..."

"...- I am delighted and honoured, and especially pleased about the jury's motivation that captures the essence of my work where I try to avoid the most obvious repetitions, and instead aim to identify the uniqueness within each project, says Rahel Belatchew Lerdell..."

Photos Courtesy of and

Friday, December 01, 2006

Design Made in Africa

The "Design made in Africa" exibition which started in Charlotte, NC a couple of weeks ago aims " reveal and confirm the talent that places Africa’s designers at the heart of modernity, while showing the value that lies in creating new models, and encouraging economic players (producers, publishers and distributors) to become involved in their development..."

"...This exhibition, traveling simultaneously in Africa and in North America and representing fourteen African countries is co-curator by Michel Bouisson and Céline Savoye. It features thirty-one designers and forty-five objects or collections, essentially everyday items, designed for daily use in contemporary everyday life- urban and rural - in Africa and beyond. All the works are original creations and are designed to be reproducible.

Launched by CulturesFrance/Afrique en créations, the city of Saint-Etienne and Saint-Etienne Metropole from a call for projects in 2004, the exhibition Design Made in Africa , shown at the Saint-Etienne International Biennale of Design, now travels across the globe to highlight African contemporary creativity in the world of design..."

Photo courtesy of The McColl Centre for Visual Art

Saturday, November 18, 2006

The ArchiAfrika Organisation

According to their website ArchiAfrika organisation aims to achieve the following in the feild of African Architecture:
  • "... To collect data on African Architecture: by designing or adopting (from Docomomo, Icomos, Unesco, etc.) methodologies as basis for a database, by producing databases on accessible sources (literature, internet etc.) and by making field studies through universities, (governmental) institutions and private parties..."
  • "...To make these databases and information world wide accessible and to rouse interest for African Architecture by, for instance, (re-)write the history of African Architecture, by launching a web site, by assisting university courses, by organizing and holding symposia and by organising exhibitions..."
  • "...To facilitate African architects and architectural institutions in the study, analysis and documentation of African Architecture, as well to supportthem in the development of their own work and the exhibition of this. We will also attempt to introduce African Architecture into contemporary discussion and practice of western Architecture..."

Friday, November 10, 2006

Ahmed Baba Institue, Tombouctou (Timbuktu)

This institute "Ahmed Bbaba Center for Documentation and Research Tombouctou" created in the 70's.

It was established to be a repository and learning centre for Authentic African literature written in Arabic. It was also established to be a centre of information exchange in the area of Arab-Islamic culture in Timbuktu.

The buildings are designed and finished in traditional Malian architecture.

Photos courtesy of Creative

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Formula for Cheaper H and 2H Concrete Blocks

1000 innovations writes about a new patent being developed to reduce the cost and at the same time maintain the reliability of the concrete block.

H & 2H bricks is a concrete mix formula developed by TRAORE Gaoussou for molding cheaper agglomerated concrete blocks that are still within the allowed strength tolerances. He has through his formula being able to achieve a 30% more economical block. In his own words this translates to "...30 % economy compared to the conventional brick, that means 30 % less cement, 30 % less sand and 30 % less water.." .

With soaring energy costs worldwide the price of cement is going to rise because it is a material whose manufacturing process relies on the use of non-sustainable materials like limestone, coal, natural gas and gypsum, so methods of construction that use less of this material would be welcomed by builders in developing countries.

These blocks also maintain the building standard for thermal and sound requirements in H and 2H concrete blocks.

You can contact TRAORE Gaoussou an inventor who has a patent pending for this formula, he is a director at "La Soudanais" Co.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Eco Friendly Airports

The recently opened Suvarnabhumi International airport Thailand and the Madrid Barajas Terminal 4 International Airport in Spain are some of the few brand new airports that are leading the way in Eco-friendly and Sustainable Airport Facilities in the world today.

The Suvarnabhumi International is one of the first airports of its size that uses water cooled down by heat exchangers at a cogeneration plant as a coolant for its airconditioning system.

This cost saving technology seems to be a better alternative for the airport,rather than the norm of using expensive standard heavy duty cryogenic chillers.

The simplicity of the Suvarnabhumi Airport cooling system technology seems to be similar to the water cooled Chilled Beam technology.

Perhaps the soon to be completed new Ikeja Domestic terminal should utilize such affordable technology as the chosen method of cooling down the airport in the future.

The Madrid Barajas Terminal 4 International Airports bamboo ceiling feature and extensive use of natural lighting I think also makes it Eco-friendly-Sustainable candidate. The bamboo ceiling feature that gives the ceiling this "Sine-wave" effect .

According to the technical specifications on the Estudio Lamela on
of the project architect's website "... The ceiling finish to main roof is bamboo planks 100mm wide with 50mm gap (varies with geometry).

Bamboo treated to Spanish M1 standard for fire protection. Ceiling of lower passenger areas is made up of circular lighting disks (woks)
1,500mm diameter at 1,800mm centres suspended from galvanised steel frame..."

Bamboo being a fast growing flexible and strong natural material has been presented in a very amazing way as shown in the photos, you could not even tell its ordinary bamboo.

Photos courtesy of Estudio Lamela,Wikipedia,Shutter Photography

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Standardising Traditional African Building Construction

The mud brick building even as rudimentary as it looks,is probably one of the most affordable and sustainable methods of construction.

The abundance of this material "Clay" makes it very popular and affordable for low income people living in hot dry climates of Africa to use as versatile building material, Hence there is a need to have accurate building standards when building with this material.

Two organisations namely La Voute Nubienne which is covered on the Nubian vault article, has already developed its own building models and is in the process of launching its open source information databases according to an article covered in Timbuktuchronicles.

These information databases will provide free floor plans, building descriptions, drafts/photos and commercials calculations, materials etc.

Photos courtesy of La Voute Nubienne

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Mwanza Rural Housing Progamme

According to their website the Ashden Awards for Sustainable energy "...rewards and promotes excellent local sustainable energy solutions in the UK and the developing world..."

"...By rewarding the best, we raise awareness of the huge potential of local sustainable energy to both tackle climate change and improve the quality of people's lives. We aim to encourage its wider take-up across the world..."

One of the 2006 finalists for using agricultural residues to fire high-quality bricks for low-cost housing is the Mwanza Rural Housing Programme (MRHP), Tanzania.

"...An innovative brick-firing technology that uses rice husks, cotton waste and coffee husks instead of wood to fire bricks for house building.

This technology has led to the construction of 100,000 new homes for the people of Mwanza whilst at the same time saving an estimated 1,500 kilo-tonnes of wood in five years..."

Photos courtesy of

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Nubian Vault

One of the La Voute Nubienne Organisation's main objective is to educate and promote the traditional technology of constructing low cost mud brick houses in the Sub-Saharan region of Africa.

In an article featured in the organisation has established a VN technique aimed at standardising the construction techniques of Sub-Saharan mud brick houses. They also offer logistics and financial advice to potential builders on the benefits of constructing such buildings in the rural areas.

Photos courtesy of

Monday, October 09, 2006

Bangkok Bio-Solar House

In an article featured in the Inhabitat, the blog writes about a Thailands first Bio Solar House.

Sustainability is wholly integrated with home life with Thailands first Bio-Solar House, a completely self-reliant abode in Bangkok where nothing goes to waste.

The brainchild of Soontorn Boonyatikam, a professor of architecture at Chulalongkorn University in Thailand who is also the designer and occupant, the Bio-Solar House was developed in collaboration with a multidisciplinary team comprised of students and faculty from architecture, engineering and science departments.

Although the exterior features of the house differ little from the average middle-class Thai dwelling, its true powers lie in the installed functionalities that course through its interiors.

This concept I think could also come in handy with many housing schemes in Africa that produce a lot or recyclable waste that could be put to good use.

Photo Courtesy of

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Eastgate Shopping Centre, Harare

Z+Blog writes about the Eastgate Building in Harare Zimbabwe that is cooled and ventilated entirely by natural ventilation based on biometric termite technology.

The Eastgate Centre is a shopping centre and office block in central Harare, Zimbabwe. The building was designed to be ventilated and cooled entirely by natural means — it was biomimetically modeled on local termite mounds. It was probably the first building in the world to use natural cooling to this level of sophistication.

Because of its altitude, Harare has a temperate climate despite being in the tropics, and the typical daily temperature swing is 10 or 14° C. This makes a mechanical or passive cooling system a viable alternative to artificial air-conditioning. But long before the building was created, passive cooling was being used by the local

Termite mounds include flues which vent through the top and sides, and the mound itself is designed to catch the breeze. As the wind blows, hot air from the main chambers below ground is drawn out of the structure, helped by termites opening or blocking tunnels to control air flow.

Photo courtesy of Treehugger

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Recycled Roads?

With soaring global temperatures,bitumen based roads seem not to be as durable because of their low melting points, although concrete is a better alternative to bitumen/asphalt, it is however more expensive to construct with.

The mountains of discarded polythene bags used for "Pure Water" in many parts of West Africa could be put to good use if municipal administrations in the area(Lagos, Onitsha,Accra,Younde, etc)could borrow an idea, that is currently being adopted in India.

The Tribune of India reports that "...The Chief Minister of Delhi, Mrs Sheila Dikshit, has given a green light to K.K. Plastics Waste Management company for supply of bitumen mixed with plastic which is used for construction of roads, sources said.

The company has its base in Bangalore where it has constructed a two-km road with bitumen mixed with plastic. Plastic was not used earlier for road construction in the country.

Director of the Central Road Research Institute (CRRI), Dr P.K. Nanda said that bitumen mixed with plastic or rubber improves the quality and life of roads. These polymers increase the melting point of the bitumen. Bitumen melts in summer and roads break. If rubber or plastic is mixed with the bitumen, it does not melt resulting in longevity of roads.

He said that concrete roads could also be constructed, but its constriction cost was higher than the other substances used for the purpose. The Deputy Director of the CRRI, Dr Sunil Boss, said that polymers mixed with bitumen increased the construction cost up to six per cent, but increased the longevity of roads manifold.

He also stresses the use of plastic as it helps improve the environment besides creating a source of income and improving roadÂ’s life.

He said that plastic of good quality was not used for constructing roads. Polythene bags thrown by people, are often used for this purpose. They pollute environment. The ragpickers collect these bags from garbage and sell them at a lower price which are then recycled.

The Bangalore-based private company purchases these bags from ragpickers at high rates, make powder from it and mix with the bitumen. Three to four per cent plastic is mixed, but it improves the quality of roads. Plastic increases the melting point of the bitumen and makes the road flexible during winters resulting in its long life..."

Photo courtesy of and

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Slee & Co Architects

Their website writes "....Slee architecture and interiors is a multi-disciplined architecture and interior design practice operating in South Africa with offices in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Knysna.

The philosophy behind our design is to incorporate and respect the diverse aspirations and heritages of our clients; to learn from advanced technologies and to create a vernacular architecture, embracing our unique people, skills, climate and space.

Our architectural palette has its origins in the earth - muted earth colours, textured finishes reflecting abundant sunlight. Our built structures reflect simplicity and honesty, echoing the vernacular of local built forms. The beauty of detail is in the crude simplicity.

We create space to live in. Our expertise lies in residential spaces, holiday homes and lodges, and selective commercial work that falls into our design philosophy..."

Photos courtesy of Slee & Co Architects

Friday, July 21, 2006

Modern African Thatch Roofing

With the cost of roofing materials like terracotta tiles, aluminum roofing sheets and corrugated galvanized metal sheet getting beyond the reach of the average homeowner in Africa, turning to the use of organic sustainable materials is fast becoming a better alternative.

Thatch can be beautiful, durable, safe,modern and does not only have to appear on rudimentary traditional African huts or Granaries.

Treating thatch with fire retarding chemicals makes them less flamable and with the drop in cost of fire and smoke detection systems fires can be detected and extinguisted, so it is probably time that African architects started to incorporate thatch into modern African buildings as it is already being done in parts of Southern Africa already.

Africa Roofing website says "... Established in 1994, is the export division of our group of companies. After informally trading for 5 years, our first company, Redruth Thatching cc saw the light in 1979.

Demand started growing from abroad for our products, and it was decided to develop a product range specifically for export purposes. From this, Africa Roofing was born ! We are proud to announce that in October 2000 with Safari Thatch & Bamboo Inc. in the USA we founded Africa Roofing Inc. in the state of Florida in the USA..."

Thursday, July 20, 2006

African Architects

Architect Africa is a directory of practicing architects in the Republic of South Africa.The site also covers other intesting stuff like free CAD software sites, Jobs, architecture news, the list of practices in South Africa and much more.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

African Heritage House

The African Heritage House website says"....The African Heritage House overlooking the Nairobi National Park is described by the prestigious Architectural Digest as "an architecture rising from the sere Kenyan plain like an outcropping of earth, a vision of usefulness informed by the African genius for decoration." Designed by American Alan Donovan, co-founder of the African Heritage Pan African Galleries, the house is a combination of the mud architectures from across Africa. Visits may be arranged to the house through travel agencies, hotels, or contact us here.

The house is available for tours, meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinners on the rooftop or by the refreshing pool), conferences/functions, as well as overnight stays in its luxurious rooms, filled with African art and furnishings with modern appointments.."

Photos by Deidi von Schaewen and from African Heritage House

Monday, May 22, 2006

National Consultants, Ethiopia

With a staff strength of about 35 professionals and a head office located in Addis Ababa, National Consultants has established itself as one of the leading Architectural, Engineering and Construction management consultants in Ethiopia.

Established since 1968 National Consultants has been involved in a number of high profile jobs in Ethiopia which include the Addis Ababa International Airport, Ethiopian Airlines Maintenance Hangar and the Maritime & Transit Services Enterprise.

Managed by a number of talented Ethiopians,which include Mr Assefa Bekele. Their website says that "...Mr. Assefa Bekele has been with the firm for the past 34 years. He is the Chief Architect as well as the General Manager of National Consultants. He has over 39 years of experience in Architecture and Project Management. He has held numerous leadership roles in some of the largest projects undertaken in Ethiopia. He has a Bachelor of Architecture from Addis Ababa University and a Master of Architecture from Cornell University..."

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

African heritage sites to go digital

AFRICAST says"...Scientists in South Africa are digitizing Africa's rich cultural heritage sites to provide a virtual tour to those who cannot visit in person, while benefiting preservation of the sites.

Using the latest laser-scan and computer technology, they are creating 3D models and virtual landscapes of the sites in Sub-Saharan Africa, including a coral-stone fortress in Tanzania, an ancient mosque in Timbuktu, Mali,and Great Zimbabwe, Sunday Times reported.

These digital models and historical resources will be stored inan African cultural heritage and landscapes database that African scholars, libraries and universities will be able to use free of charge, said the national newspaper.

Prof. Heinz Ruther, a project leader based at the University ofCape Town's (UCT's) Geomatics department, said they hoped to eventually create walk-through capabilities, like a computer game,to familiarize African school children with these sites.

The newspaper said the project has been approved by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), which oversees the naming and preservation work of heritage sites around the world.

The UCT also co-operates with a project known as Aluka, which is tasked with building an "online, digital library of scholarly resources from and about the developing world, beginning in Africa."

The project aims not only at "virtual preservation" but also atassisting with the physical conservation of these sites, which arebeing eroded by the weather, time and human settlement, Ruther said.

The Kilwa fortress in Tanzania, made of coral stone, dates backto the year 1503. It is being eroded by storms and the wind.

Ruther explained that the accuracy of the 3D models, between one and five centimeters of the original, would assist with reconstruction should it become necessary.

The team has already finished models for four World Heritage sites, including Kilwa Great Mosque, dated about 1200 AD, and Kilwa Kisiwani Fortress (1503) in Tanzania; St Giyorgis, a rock-hewn church at Lalibela (dating

back to the 11th to 13th century) in Ethiopia; and the Grand Mosques of Djenne and Djingereiber in Timbuktu in Mali (14th and 20th centuries).

UNESCO convened the 29 session of the World Heritage Committee July in Durban, South Africa, finding that 16 of 33 endangered World Heritage sites are in Africa due to conflicts, lack of fund and protection..."

Monday, May 01, 2006

Rammed Earth Structures

If the production of cement is one of the highest carbon dioxide emitters in the world today, how can we reform the way we build in order to reduce these emissions? One of the answers might lie in the use of rammed earth as a material for construction of buildings.

Julian Keable of Pearce Mccomish says "...Ramming earth has been a method of construction used for centuries in various parts of the world, and is commonly known by its French name Piseg .Earth is extracted from the ground and compacted in layers inside specially constructed formwork. After compaction the formwork is released and moved along to a new position in the wall, or upwards to the next layer. In this way the building goes up rapidly, layer by layer, row by row.

This technique can produce buildings that are strong, durable, safe and desirable. Above all, because earth is an abundant and cheap resource, rammed earth buildings are very economical; in addition, the majority of the investment goes directly into the local economy. The method has an essential simplicity, and with its unskilled labour intensity, rammed earth can be seen as a valuable tool in the generation of low-cost housing in developing countries, in both urban and rural areas.

Well built, rammed earth walls will compare favourably with other masonry materials, such as bumt clay bricks or concrete blocks, in compressive strength, erosion by moisture or seasonal changes of dimension. Costs will also, in most cases, be highly competitive..."

Photos and Illustrations courtesy of Pearce Mccomish

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Arch Design Uganda

They describe themselves as a group of developers, architects, contractors, suppliers, managers, economists that have integrated to form a team with the promise delivering greater architecture and engineering in Africa.

The Arch Design website says"....Fred Waix Waiswa together with two partners founded Arch Design five years ago. He brought with him a rich experience of design from the Petroleum Industry. He had worked for the petroleum giant Shell in several countries across the African continent.

His experience cuts across the continent, from Shell Uganda Ltd where he worked up to the level of Shell Projects Supervisor, responsible for Supervising Engineering for Shell projects, fuel stations, Office Building and depots right from the inception stage up to commissioning. He had also worked for the same company as a Retail Network Planner, in charge of retail marketing of Shell properties.

As a Design Engineer under the East African Shell Cluster, he worked on special Projects that included preparation of detailed designs and production drawings for, New To Industry (NTIs) modern retail outlets, Select stores (super markets), and motels, for Kenya Shell and B.P, Shell Mauritius and Shell Sudan. At Shell Rwanda sarl he worked on the Upgrade of storage fuel tank facilities, fire fighting facilities for the depot and the redesign and upgrade of the Shell Rwanda Head Office in Kigali.

At Shell Djibouti he took part in the Port Depot Seaport Fuel Terminal Upgrade as a lead Design Consultant, worked on new fuel pipelines at the Red Sea to the Terminal, fire Fighting facilities, Djibouti fuel Port Terminal and Drainage system and remodelling of Shell Djibouti Head Offices.

As an Architect/Partner at Arch Design, Kampala-Uganda, he has handled fuel depots for Jovenna Uganda Limited, Galana Oil Uganda Limited (Now Kobil Uganda Ltd.) and Head Office Building for Petro Uganda Limited. He was in charge of refurbishment of fuel Stations around Uganda and preparation of detailed Designs of Petro Uganda's ultra-modern services station with a supermarkets.

He has worked on various Commercial, Institutional and Residential buildings which include upgrade of Mweya Safari lodge to a 5 Star Hotel, Wakiso District Administrative Building & Council Hall, Mbarara District, Administrative Building & Council Hall, Soroti District Administrative Building & Council Hall, Mbarara District Local Government Administration. Soroti District Local Government Administration, Kiboga District Local Government Administration and Library for Ntale School.

He is a Corporate Member of Uganda Society of Architects (USA) and a Registered Architect with the Uganda Architects Registration Board (ARB)...."

Photos courtesy of Arch Design

Friday, April 14, 2006

13 Principles of Sustainable Architecture

Kelly Hart of Green Home Building writes that "...As “consumers” we are frequently confronted with life style decisions that can impact our environment. There are a few choices in this life that can make a big difference in what the quality of life will be for those who follow us. Going with the flow of our culture is hard to avoid, and unfortunately the flow is not in the right direction for evolving a sustainable future.

uuOne of the most momentous choices that any of us will make is the kind of house we live in. I have come up with a list of thirteen principles of sustainable architecture that can guide you in your housing choices.

Small is beautiful. The trend lately has been toward huge mansion-style houses. While these might fit the egos of those who purchase them, they don't fit with a sustainable life style. Large houses generally use a tremendous amount of energy to heat and cool. This energy usually comes from the combustion of fossil fuels, depleting these resources and emitting greenhouse gases and pollutants into the air. Also, the larger the house, the more materials go into its construction; materials which may have their own environmental consequences. A home should be just the right size for its occupants and their activities. My wife and I (and our two dogs) have happily lived in a forty foot bus for the last four years. The key to this is efficient use of space, good organization, and keeping possessions to a manageable level. We do look forward to spreading out some in the passive solar, earthbag home we are building.

Heat with the sun. Nothing can be more comfortable for body and mind than living in a good solar-heated house. I say “good”, because proper design is crucial to the comfort of such a house. You may have gone into a solar house and felt stifled by the glaring heat, or perhaps you shivered from the lack of it. Good passive solar design will provide just enough sunlight into the rooms to be absorbed by the surrounding thermal mass (usually masonry materials), so that the heat will be given back into the room when the sun goes down. The thermal mass is a kind of “heat battery” that stores the warmth, absorbing it to keep the room from getting too hot during the day. Equally important to thermal mass is insulation (such as straw bales or crushed volcanic rock) that will keep that heat inside. Thermal mass materials need to be insulated from the outside, or else they will just bleed that warmth right back out. A rock house might have tons of mass, but be uncomfortably cold because of this energy bleed. So a good solar design will utilize materials of the right type in the right places, blending thermal dynamics with utilitarian design. There is much more to be said about solar design, and there are many good books on the topic.

Keep your cool. As I suggested above, a well designed solar house is both warm when you want it, and cool when you want it; that is to say, the temperature tends to stay fairly even. A good way to keep your cool is to dig into the earth. If you dig about six feet into the earth, you will find that the temperature there varies by only a few degrees year round. While this temperature (about 50-55 degrees F.) might be too cool for general living comfort, you can use the stability of the earth's temperature to moderate the thermal fluctuations of the house. If you dig into a south-facing hillside to build, or berm the north part of the house with soil, you can take advantage of this. The part of the house that is under ground needs to be well insulated, or the earth will continually suck warmth out of the house..."

Diagram courtesy of Recycle Works Organisation

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Reducing reliance on utility supplied water

When I was younger I noticed my grandparents in the village got all their fresh water from a massive underground rainwater collection tank that was constructed on their premises. Back then I was amazed on how full this tank was most of the time, which could be atributed to the sheer volume of rain that fell in that region of Nigeria in the rainy season.

Timbuktu Chronicles has previously covered this topic highlighting the benefits of such a system. Also there is also evidence that shows that we waste water less when we are involved in the process of collecting and storing it atimes.

People might wonder if a borehole is not capable of satisfying all there water needs? Well it could, depending on the quality of the aquifers around where the borehole is located (for Lagos it apparently it has to be more than 250m deep so it can hit the Abeokuta formation), the depth of the bore hole, and the frequency of usage. There have also been a lot of cases especially in Lagos and Port Harcourt, Nigeria were some of the boreholes have been contaminated by seawater or crude oil.

How can we harvest more rainwater in out cities to serve our drinking water needs and how can we recycle used bathing and washing water(reuse water) to flush our toilets?

In Hong Kong they have a system is some areas that uses strained sea water to flush toilets and urinals. Maybe the municipal authorities of the costal cities in Africa could adopt such a system. I don't see the point in spending so much money to purify water only to have it used in flushing the toilet, what do you think?

Monday, April 03, 2006

African deserts a potential clean energy goldmine?

The technology of solar chimneys harnesses the power of solar radiation and thermal currents to generate Environmentally clean electricity.

The company pioneering this technology is Enviromission an Australian solar power company working together with a German Structural consulting engineer company called Schlaich Bergermann und Partner.

The Schlaich Bergermann und Partner website also says "...With solar chimneys the greatest problems of our times,the environmental exploitation and the poverty and population explosion in the Third World, could be solved immediately and peacefully. We have designed the solar chimney such that it can be built indigenous in countries with ample solar radiation. So it is effective in a double way with electricity and work instead of oil and coal. Besides investigating the solar chimney's principle and its thermodynamics we have optimized the construction methods for the glass roof and the high chimney as well as the appropriate turbines and generators – in collaboration with the worldwide best experts.."

Maybe African venture capitalists, investors and property developers could look at converting the Sahara and Kalahari deserts into vast solar energy farms and ecofriendly new cities.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Icosa Village

In a story covered by Jill of Inhabitat she writes that"...Despite looking like something straight out of Star Wars-Icosa Village's collection of "Pod" prefab shelters are actually very down-to-earth. The pods are practical, affordable, and easy-to-build, with the pieces snapping together like Erector Sets.

Starting around $2000, the Bucky-inspired dymaxion shelters are super cheap, and are designed to be used for a variety of recreational, promotional, and humanitarian uses.

The Icosa Village website says"...Icosa Village offers temporary to semi-permanent shelter products that are suitable for a variety of recreational, promotional, entertainment, and humanitarian uses. It is our intention to become the preferred supplier of high value, low cost, aesthetically appealing shelter solutions to governmental, NGO, and international relief organizations addressing the worldwide refugee shelter crisis..."

Photos Courtesy of Inhabitat