July - September 2017
Floris Akkermans & Peter
Architecture as a stepping stone
This project is located in Mikocheni, a dry, semi-arid area in the South of Moshi. In the sub-village Kirungu you’ll find the house of Juma (49) who lives there with his wife Asha (36) and his three children; Asia, Mohammed and Rehema. Juma works as a farmer most of his days and in the periods where his fields are flooded he works irregular hours at the neighboring TPC plantations. Asha stays at home and looks after the children, spending her days immersed in a multitude of household tasks. Asia and Mohammed go to the local high school and spend most of their time busy with either schoolwork or household chores. The youngest Rehema lives with her grandmother, closer to school, and only visits a couple of times a year during the holidays.The family experiences a lot of challenges in their life. The environmental conditions that characterize this region (salinity, heavy wind, floods) make it not only hard to grow their food but also to construct durable houses. The houses deteriorate fast and they need to be fixed twice a year, the papyrus roof even more. In other words, innovative solutions for this specific environment need to be found in order to provide inhabitant with durable houses.
Mekocheni is a village composed of spread out houses, shacks and sheds. Roads are open ribbons of dirt that allow traffic to navigate between the sparsely spread buildings. The new design tries to find its place and is positioned in coercion with the existing structures creating a new semi-enclosed courtyard protected from the constant wind. The hot, arid climate and dust filled winds make for a challenging environment to build a durable, sustainable home. The design tackles this challenges straight on; a mawe (stone) wall that encases an adobe interior, shielding the adobe from the strong prevailing wind and rain coming from the west. In an attempt to further protect the fragile adobe blocks, the structure is encased top and bottom with a solid foundation and a double roof structure that simultaneously helps regulate the internal climate. By using adobe as a building material it gives the project the opportunity to showcase how this commonly used building material, that is locally regarded as a temporary necessity, can be successfully used to construct a lasting and solid building.
The interior of the building is modelled after a rudimentary, common layout consisting of a central living space flanked by two adjoining bedrooms. Despite the consequently sober and simplistic interior the rooms function as a practical space that fits with the local way of life. Windows and ventilation holes are used for cross ventilation and at the same time allows light to flow into the rooms. Sights to the surrounding landscape are framed in the openings creating qualitative internal space and an ideal study area. The structure and materiality are designed to allow maximum flexibility for future growth. As Juma is capable of building with adobe blocks, and the design facilitates progression, it allows him, over time, to modify and extend his home.
A large porch binds the exterior of the building and functions as a boundary between indoor and outdoor space. This principle is accentuated by a seamless floor and a large wooden door that opens up the living area to the protected courtyard. The building looks for a synergy between open and closed, indoor and outdoor spaces, allowing life to flow into and out of the building.
Overall the project is aimed at facilitating the wants and needs of the user, to enable future progression and to withstand the harsh and unforgiving climate while simultaneously blending with the local culture and traditions, tapping into the genius loci of Mekocheni.