The Client’s brief asked for a chalet design of sorts to be built back in my home village of Chavuma in the North Western part of Zambia.
My first interpretation of the brief was the use of Vernacular, with a pinch of Modern Architecture.
Since what vernacular is, is different in meaning from the next person, my take was what’s common to a particular setting of what’s proposed: Common to a particular setting in the materials and the techniques proposed to be used.
For this particular setting, grass has been proposed to be used to thatch the roof while local stone has been proposed to be used to clad the facade. The post and beam technique is what’s been proposed to erect the structure and to keep it stable.
In summary, we’re not yet that far gone as professionals of design to experiment some more with both Vernacular and Modern Architecture. This is what generations after us, and those after them can look back at with pride and call Historical Architecture.
Contrary to popular belief, the most ‘tacky’ of jobs in my line of work – I feel – are the minuscule, yet compounded projects.
Compounded in the sense that, structures that can just as easily stand and function right on their own are made to sit side by side on one restricting piece of land.
These, therefore, become taxing in that much of beforehand research has to be carried out so as not to compromise on standard regulations.
Since the client lives and works in Lusaka town, a modern two bedroom house is set to act as a “holiday” home and will share the lot with a Chicken run and a fish pond.
Here, on a lot placed in a nearby town of Choongwe, the proposal of the house came behind the idea for the client to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city and to have eyes on the other two developments once production commences.
At Design Stage…
In an effort to have the proposed developments functioning in harmony with one another, it was necessary to carry out research on a number of factors. One of these was the number of chickens allowed per square meter. Thus, information of 10 chickens per square meters was used to determine the surface area that was required to plan for the 2000 inhabitants.
Orientation was also a key factor. As winds hit the site from the South-Eastern direction, the chicken run had to be sited there for reasons of ventilation. In the same light as the house had to be sited on the polar opposite to keep it away from the ventilation axis. The same can be said about why the number of openings on the house facing the chicken run were restricted.
The fish pond was surprisingly easy to site since only generosity in breadth and length had to be given. The tastefully positioned palm trees flanking the pond from one side provide the much needed shade from the sun.
Set in the backdrop of an area called Mass Media which houses the biggest national broadcaster, Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC, hereafter), is BongoHive. Lusaka’s technology and innovation hub.
How fitting the place was to host a meetup to learn about everything you need to know about blogging regardless of your intentions whether out of mere interest or as an enterprise to make a buck.
This event was organized in partnership with MTN under the theme “Blog With MTN” and a similar hashtag.
Since the event was planned around 30 invited guests, a much fitting room was needed, and so a 30-guest room was used.
What stood out about the room from a designer’s perspective was the generous amount of light being borrowed from the outside, as was the fresh air bathing this room.
Also, access into the room was through an arch, an architectural feature that dates as far back as the Roman Empire. The lack of a door here also works well as an exit in case of a fire.
The sprawling corridors away from this room that sits at the entrance of the premises lead away to the Kitchen, Water closets and offices, and accentuated with lovely furniture pieces like seaters and Ottomans.
“Motiffed” off-white tiles used for the floor help appreciate the monochrome on-white walls where digital presentations came to life in the form of text and pictorials from a projector hanging off a matching white ceiling.
Any room that’s big on fresh air, generous lighting and visible fire exits deserves a thumbs up in my books, and BongoHive is just that.
I am constantly led to be convinced of the incessant need for Property Management and Customer Care. I understand how the two might come across as an unlikely pair at first glance. However, in one way or the other, they weave together seamlessly in the world of running a reputable enterprise.
Be it government or private undertakings today, the ones that seem to have it, suck at it and those that do not, well, lack it.
It’s not like before, back when businesses pride themselves on Customer Care. Back when pristine conditioned premises had picket fences, and properly manicured landscapes were a thing to be held and had, and not a thing left optioned. Back when a smile was all a person who works with people on the daily needed to wear and nothing to do with designer apparel.
I mean, just a fresh coat of paint every after so often would transform the face and the insides of half, if not most, of the buildings that make the Cityscape.
Add bonding, binding and mending of fixtures and fittings to the mix, and you’re well on your way to a Health and Safety worthy structure, fit to run a business.
I’d like to think a happy environment makes a happy occupant. That being the case, in the end, the occupants’ attitude changes to something commendable. Especially since the world can be changed with just an idea stemming from a shift in attitude.
In construction, some days are super busy especially when carried out outdoors while other days are still busy even when carried out indoors, nevertheless.
Indoors, in the sense that drawings need to be drawn and redrawn to suit modifications to projects until their completion.
With so little time on my hands, the indoors aspect will remain a story to be told later. That way I can stick to the other aspect of the outdoors.
The site is Located in the outskirts of Lusaka province and just about several kilometers away from Choongwe’s Central Business District (CBD, hereafter).
Here, is where works for a Children’s school are underway to help support the growing demands for education in the area. At the moment, there are three existing schools with the third one having had been built about 2 years ago called Chipakata Children’s School.
According to the brains behind this project, the idea for the third and fourth school came about to help cut down on the long distances that children needed to walk just to get an education in this area of clusters of villages. At planning, these schools therefore had to be positioned in the heart of the initial two schools but at opposites of each other for a maximum effect.
I took an interest in the two schools for two main reasons, one being Hooray to children’s education in my country and secondly the state of the art designs employed here, which the locals now mockingly refer to as “muzungu designs”, who can’t laugh at that, right?
With Chipakata already servicing hundreds of children with an education, Mwabwindo school is not that far behind with visible progress of works on Site.
Steel frames for the classes, a Library, a clinic, a plant room and administration offices are already up. While their foundations and that of the teachers’ compound have been dug with pouring of concrete footing currently underway.
Since the site lies on a wet patch of land, to avoid settlement of the buildings in the future, footing to the size of 200mm is being used with double walls for both the foundation walls and the exterior walls. Whereas, the size of the slab remains at a standard of 200mm.
And with every great design, there application of green construction techniques follow, and the case is no different here.
Pressed Clay bricks with only 10% cement are being produced on site to be used in the construction which the Manager claims makes some difference due to the enhanced aesthetics they promise, and to which effect I remain in agreement with. Double walls are the norm on this site as I imagine was the case on the previous one too because of that school’s thick walls, the clay bricks are meant to be used as fair facing for the inner concrete block walls and for screen walls on the outdoor library.
Maybe it’s too soon to tell, but if Chipakata is anything to go by, this school will have generous openings in the form of doors and windows to bring in light and fresh oxygen in volumes of volumes. The vast corridors being used in the design is another sure way to achieve this.
Water needs are already catered for by a water borehole sunk at the time of breaking ground, and is expected to supply both the school and the teachers’ compound for years to come, even after operations commence.
Sustainability doesn’t just end here, a solar system is also in the pipeline to sustain the premises during blackouts. An explanation to how a plant room found itself as part of the accommodation schedule, yes?
At the end of my third visit here, I am left with a lot of emotions in reaction to the development going on but what’s the strongest is that of anxiety to see how it all comes together at completion.
Now and then I stumble upon design gems, often by chance while other times by recommendations from family and friends, the way I did this one.
It is an Eatery found in the heart of Chilenje market; a place where you most probably least expect to. For directions, it is quite easy to give, since it only lies along the last stretch of Chilumbulu road to Woodlands Stadium, and opposite First National Bank (also acronym-ed as FNB).
Through and through, the interior design of this little Snack Bar has been intended to stand out, from the color choices to the furniture layout and from the accent pieces to the rustic landscape feature right at the entrance.
At the entrance lies, in plain and simple fashion, a stone feature that has been softened by the introduction of dwarf grass plants ready to welcome foodies and wannabes like myself.
Once inside, one is expected to be welcomed by flower vases and tastefully laid out artworks on a painted steel mantel piece which, in my opinion, think would’ve functioned much better as a lean-to table with stools. Space must’ve been the hindering factor, however, all is forgiven and forgotten here since the artworks resting on this piece now brings in lots and lots more of character while the mirror is left to bring in the illusion of roomy to the food bar.
Additional artworks nailed to a lime green painted wall, all in all, brings the design together as a ribbon wraps around a treasure box, which this space is.
While faux ceiling tiles bring a sense of elegance to the table, pun intended.
Occasionally, there comes along a client with a “unique taste”, for lack of a suited reference. These are often well traveled clients who are not willing to compromise or settle for anything basic but rather something to quench this acquired taste.
However, due to cost implications and limited knowledge on the use and application of certain materials and techniques respectively, as Architects and designers’ alike, there is no option but to use what is available. Especially, since the use of timber as a material and the use of expansive cantilevers as a construction technique in this part of the world are close to non existent.
With the little left, Architects opt to play around with the floor plan and occasionally dare to tap into a world less charted, in my country, of nouvelle construction materials like glass, exposed timber and exposed steel, which then come at a cost.
For this one my client though, the play in layout saw the plan take on the shape of a crescent (or a half moon). Since obviously this was not enough, glass, timber and tasteful steel had to be used so as to achieve an aesthetically pleasing look.
And with that, the crescent house was realized and to much thrill of the client.