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