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C-re-a.i.d., a Vision on Archicture put into Practice

“Through architectural projects we aspire a place where people are creatively inspired within a hand reach to participate in an affordable and sustainable building culture.”
– C-re-a.i.d., 2017

C-re-a.i.d’s vision is so much more than just another fluffy lets-save-the-world ideology. It actually defines our entire methodology, our modus operandi if you will. Although our schooling system encourages us to think outside the box, we’re trained to operate within a Western context. We cannot let this Western mindset blur our vision. Gone are the days in which the so-called starchitect came to Africa to tell the indigenous population how the ideal maison tropicale should look like. We operate within a Tanzanian and this is exactly why we decide to engage with local policy makers every stop along the way.

Prior to all projects we plan a meeting with the village dignitaries in order to pinpoint the area’s priorities. Cooperation of the well-respected village leaders is necessary for the success of the planned project. Not only do they offer us insight on the local issues that need to be addressed urgently, they also act as a project ambassador and as such add to the projects’ credibility and help to raise awareness amongst community members.

During construction we’re in a continuous dialogue with the community. Unlike any Western construction site, most of our projects are open to visitors. We strongly believe that we will only be able to inspire people and install a more affordable and sustainable building culture when people are involved. On more than one occasion, passers-by were left stunned after seeing us use rather non-conventional building materials in our constant quest for alternative building techniques. At first, when using plastic bottles or earthbags, people have the tendency to react rather sceptically. Eventually, when a project reaches its final stage, the scepticism dies down and makes way for genuine interest. The official handover is therefore the ideal place and time to seize this momentum and explain our design, process and technique to the entire community in an attempt to reach a bigger audience.

Equally as important as the first two stages in our process of participatory design is the evaluation following every project. This assessment is necessary for both parties. The families involved then get the chance to express their initial findings and communicate additional needs. At the same time, we can evaluate the buildings’ physical state of being and see where further research is needed. In addition, we can see how the family or community interacts with the project and evaluate if the set objectives are met.

Eventually the knowledge gathered during the entire process will be presented to the community, followed by a workshop in which we train local craftsmen and get them acquainted with the proposed technique. In the end, this is the only way to create the more sustainable building culture we are aiming for.

Throughout the years we have established relationships with different villages in close vicinity of Moshi and their leaders: Mikocheni, Shimbwe, Msitu wa Tembo and last but not least Maji Moto – the latter being the village in which we constructed our last project. Last week a second evaluation was scheduled to see how the bibi and her family were doing. Upon arrival, we could see the grandmother sitting and preparing lunch in between the two housing units. With great joy she welcomed us to her home and showed us around in her humble new dwelling.

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