GW 14.03

GW 14.03

Be part of Something Bigger


Instead of designing and building for a single household, C-re-a.i.d. attempted with this project for the first time to envision strategies of community upgrading. Partner organization Minjeni women’s group introduced a site of four houses in the village of Shimbwe, inhabited by related single mothers and their children, as project case. In this all female-community, each family had similar standard of living conditions, but particular urgent housing problems to deal with. The goal of this project was not only to help the families on site, but also to inspire neighboring families by showing the possibilities of improving housing conditions within their financial realm.  Therefore, it was a major concern to keep the cost per intervention as low as possible.


Community Development - Shelter Upgrading

6 weeks

August - September 2014

Minjeni Womens Group


Lisa De Vos & Pascale Willems


The students, both graduated as architects and in the course of obtaining a second degree, designed a catalogue of strategies. This booklet was discussed with the women, jointly deciding which designs would be implemented in each house. The interventions were of varying scale and cost; small scale-strategies such as the implementation of inexpensive durable ‘wallpaper’, bottle solar light bulbs and the construction of simple furniture from recuperated construction material, to create a more comfortable living environment, were complemented by larger structural interventions to significantly increase the lifespan of the traditional mud house and other structures on site. Rebuilding two such mud one room-houses with porch, a modest concrete foundation and single line of bricks served as a base for the mud walls in order to limit the negative effects of termites and slow down the decay of the wooden structure. The design included the recuperation of the material from the old house and the enabling of incremental construction investments in the future, such as expansion, further build-up in brick or renewal of the mud walls without damaging the foundation. A similar strategy was used to improve a pig shed, kitchen and sanitary block. The kitchen was rebuilt as a wooden structure without mud on top of the concrete-brick foundation, allowing smoke to freely ventilate. For the sanitary block, cheap plastic tubes and sheets were used to create a termite- and waterproof construction.


Upon a return visit a mere two weeks after completion of the project, the students were excited to discover that three of the four families had undertaken additional construction works: another porch was added to one of the houses, the pig shed was complemented by a second connected shed for piglets and works were started on one of the remaining mud houses to create a concrete base.