Building the community hall in Mikocheni was my first big task as an intern architect in Tanzania.
Though my backpack was filled with knowledge obtained from the school banks and my first year internship, building in Tanzania tested my architecture skills on a whole different level.
One of the many facets I had to deal with was and still is the choice of materials, how to use them with limited tools, and weather they are qualitative and sustainable or not.
Although I could count on the expertise of different architects and “DIY” in Belgium, theory and reality are often very different, as materials here don’t always guarantee a good quality and building practices highly depend on the climate.
As a development architect for C-re-aid, designing and conducting different projects in the Kilimanjaro region, material research is a big issue when it comes to delivering a qualitative end result. An issue where a rather small NGO like C-re-aid is often limited in the time and money it can invest in doing this research. However it remains our ambition to built vernacular architecture using local materials in an innovative, sustainable way.
For this reason we believe that NGO’s involved in the building sector and architecture offices throughout Tanzania should join forces, sharing their knowledge about materials with each other. It’s a win-win situation for everybody involved. As one participant has researched the characteristics, sustainability, usage and location of let’s say the perfect brick, another participant will have done the same with lime plaster. Furthermore different parts of the country will be screened for good materials since participants are spread over the whole country, most of the time researching materials that can be found in their direct environment. When we set up a database or platform where this information can be shared, all parties could benefit from it by being able to design and build good architecture in Tanzania in a more efficient way.
To all architecture NGO’s and offices out there, karibu to join!