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Building a project. C-re-aid’s plus design process.

Machame. Project for Kilimanjaro Animal Rescue Crew

ph by heleen rottiers

At C-re-aid we try to stress on the idea that an architect is more than the drawer of a facade, and the lines that coming walls in between different rooms.
We not only make the design according to our ideas but we take in accountancy a lot of different aspects.

To summarize the work of an architect at C-re-aid plus, what we do is:

    • Making the design.
      Constantly considering needs of future users and the environmental conditions. This means a big effort to bring a sustainable and smart design, letting people understand what and why we something but also welcoming their suggestions and their requests.
      In the need of innovative solution we often end up doing a lot of research and tests to try to get the best solution.
    • Working under tight budget constraints.
      C-re-aid plus is born to design for other NGOs, this means the budget is never so big while the social value that the project has to bring is huge. Sustainable and smart design also means that we constantly work calculating the costs of materials, different alternatives, logistic and labour. Making a detailed budget sometimes means calculating right amount of nails you will need (!) and having regular contact with the hardware shops. Here in Moshi, at Five Stars Store they know all of us so good that they get worried if one of the architects doesn’t show up for a while!
    • Traveling from the office to construction site.
      During the construction of one of our projects the architect follows the construction and makes sure that everything on site works well, together with our local staff of project supervisors (we could never function without them!). But everyday traveling from home to the site means to check all the materials needed, go to the shop, buy it and arrange for their transport. But do not forget that workers need food, so before leaving town it’s common that we stop to buy 5 kg of ugali flour (that also is counted in he budget!).
    • Dealing with local fundis.
      On construction the architect is in charge to get the building done. Here we work with fundis, local craftsmen expert in construction or in specific materials. And we have to explain them what we have in mind. In the western world it looks easy, as an architect you draw the plan and the builders know how to read it…here in Tanzania it does not always happen. But that’s one of the main challenge C-re-a.i.d. wants to face: we want to train local people in order to make them able to read a plan and working according to a detailed project design. That will increase the quality of every building they will work on in the future.
      Still a big limitation is the language. I don’t know how you do with languages but even after seven months my Swahili is even worst than their English. But, somehow we make it work.

 

Letting all of this happens is only possible because we do not consider ourself the only one carrying knowledge. We start from the idea that architects can learn from other peoples who carry local knowledge we would never get in contact with otherwise.

 

Heleen

former Development Architect

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