New house in Shimbwe

GW 18.02

Standard housing


The Groundwork Project is located in Shimbwe, a remote settlement on the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro in Northern Tanzania. Here, there are limited economic opportunities, however the community is working hard towards improving living conditions throughout the Shimbwe area. The Groundwork Project is a housing project donated to a family who were previously living in poor conditions and requested a home for nine people. The project aimed to uplift and empower the family as well as serve as viable and sustainable solution for housing within the community.

The main focus for the project was to provide a comfortable home for the large family . This was achieved by creating two main sections of the house which are divided by a non-structural wall, therefore allowing the design to adapt to the needs of the family in the future. The covered outdoor space is where the family can perform daily tasks whilst still being protected from the elements. Although the building is relatively small for the amount of occupants, the home will expectantly empower the family to further develop the site and create opportunities for themselves in the future.

The use of CEB’s (compressed earth bricks) allowed the Shimbwe soil to be transformed from a seamiling worthless material into a valuable building product from which the home was built. The CEB’s, which are made from a mixture of local soil (excavated onsite), building sand and lime, are an effective and sustainable approach to building in areas such as Shimbwe. The use of CEB’s in the project promoted the use of sustainable materials as well as lowered the cost of raw materials delivered to the site. Using CEB’s as opposed to burnt bricks lowered the buildings carbon footprint and helped to reduce the deforestation associated with burnt bricks in Tanzania.

Community involvement was an important aspect of the project. Throughout the construction process Shimbwe locals were hired, allowing the knowledge gained through project to be implemented in future projects. The building is intended to not only empower the family but also demonstrate to the community the possibilities of sustainable building techniques, specifically building with earth. The onsite production of the CEB’s has sparked interest within the community and hopefully the community will soon be building with CEB’s.


Shimbwe Juu

local building techniques

8-12 weeks

July - September 2018

Minjeni Womensgroup


Bram Ivan, Gabriel O'Donovan, Esther Mbibo