suoᴉʇɐsɹǝʌuoɔ ʎɐpʎɹǝʌƎ

Basically, an everyday conversation…

Where do you see the future of school design going?

Generally, the future of design is green and so is school design. It is not at all different.

What do you mean by Green?

This is basically sustainable design, because Green is an all-encompassing term that even if we spent the whole day trying to break it down, we would still fail quite miserably.

How best would you then simplify Green design?

Well, let us look at the choice of materials for use on a project. In my opinion, repurposing materials from pre-existing buildings for use either in the grey shell or in fittings and fixtures of new builds is the most sustainable example there is. Another one would be reusing materials cleared from the site instead of disposing of them.

How does reused material cleared from a site work?

In the case of trees cut down from a site during clearing, these can be processed into lumber. This lumber of course should be dried in a kiln and treated with preservatives before use, but it takes a long time to be ready for use so it might not quite be the best option for time sensitive projects.

Alternatively, on the off chance that a site is endowed with good soil, this can be reused for laterite purposes. This method is as time saving as it is cost saving, in that it cuts down on time spent on procuring materials and waiting for delivery on site. Money saved here would then be spent to meet other demands the project might have.

There really are a lot of materials sites can provide us to work with, one just needs to keep an open mind.

Is this not where the concept of the greater evil comes into play? Could you be so kind as to shade more light on the same?

Certainly, this is that time. It is about the action that wreaks the least havoc on the environment and going with it. Having already mentioned repurposed timber what we are saying is that materials obtained from a demolition – which in itself is awe so sustainable – is lighter on the environment in that fuel is only burned on transportation than processing the trees into lumber which burns more fuel, is. From the two examples we can see that the former has a less negative impact on the environment than the latter does. Basically, what this does is help us leave behind a more habitable environment for future generations than we found it even after we are gone.

Is there anything else that can be added to what has just been explained?

Of course, burning fuels are a nuisance on the climate and it is the biggest culprit of global warming so the construction industry should make it a point to reduce on processes that require a lot of burning of fuel. Furthermore, if we reduced the footprints of our buildings by going a few storeys upwards we would be able to moderate the extent of flora damaged and the extent of fauna disturbed from its natural habitation. This is really good for the ecosystem.

We shall talk about the importance of maintaining a healthy ecosystem another time. In conclusion, what features exist in the school designs of the future?

This will vary from one designer to the next, naturally, but mine would be vanished timber frames, large windows, double volume height buildings, multipurpose outdoor amphitheatres and of course sports spaces for recreation.

And on that note, thank you very much to everyone who came.

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Whispers Of The Mighty Zambezi.

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Traditionally, I come from the North-Western part of Zambia – a landlocked country – in Southern Africa. My parents and their parents before them both hail from here.

Particularly, my mother’s people hail from Zambezi town whereas my father’s people hail from Chavuma town which is 2 hours away from Zambezi town which in turn is 7 hours away from Solwezi town.

This being my second time working in Solwezi, I felt challenged to endeavor to wander just a bit yonder in the depths of the province. The first time having been back in 2014 on another tour of duty.

In all my years, the furthest I had wandered had always been Solwezi, the administrative center of the province. And with my birthday being imminent, it was the perfect opportunity to do just that – to step out a little further and ever deeper into the land of my heritage.

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The date was set; it had to be just a day before my birthday.

The month of August might signal the end of Winter and a jump to Spring in this part of the world but to me it’s the month of my birthday, so why not take a birthday vacation I thought.

Three things had piqued my interest in Zambezi town; the Chinyingi bridge, the Zambezi river and a waterfront lodge on its banks.

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After a 7 hour bus ride on a completely tarred road to the town, I checked into the Royal Kutachika Lodge on the 28th of August. My key card was marked 27 and I was shown to what would be my room for the next 2 days of the same mark.

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The most representative characteristics of the lodge are the striking and extensive thatch roofs decorating the lodge which scream vernacular architecture. Sliding doors opened to a four-poster bed complete with a Telly, natural reed side tables and a vanished timber wardrobe. Within the room, was a walk-in shower and a walk-in water closet, both spaces separated by a wash hand basin.

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After enjoying a readily hot shower, I took to their fully stocked bar (although I’ll admit they had everything but tequila, and what’s a birthday vacation without shots?), so several double shots of Red Label whiskey sufficed until they didn’t anymore.

The morning of my birthday got off to a slow start since planning for the trip and for activities to do was done beforehand, so all that was left for me to do was to sleep in, to take in the scenery and to bask in the fresh air before taking a trip upstream the mighty Zambezi river towards the Chinyingi bridge.

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With the day being perfect; sun out, mild temperatures and with very little to no wind, it was time to go riding on the river.

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At the dock, I took a tour of the stationary pontoon trying to fathom its workings. Sated with the workings of the pontoon, my interests shifted to the banana boats lightly sailing about. With a K10 to spare, I crossed forth and back to one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life.

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Life jacket strapped on and with just over 3 hours left to be on the Zambezi, we took to venturing forth on our journey towards Chinyingi bridge. The one way trip that should’ve taken 45 minutes lasted about an hour due to urges to take it all in; the beaches at each and every turn, the small islands on the way and the vegetation on the river banks.

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After an hour, the bridge was upon us, stretching from end to end, supported by nothing but chords. At the initial approach, it looks like a string that soon grows in size to that of a footbridge.

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We docked the boat to the side and stepped out to walk on it. The bridge swayed with every step; to the right with the first step and to the left with the second, and so on and so forth. It was a gentle sway.

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I heard more than the average man hears. Whispered to me were the secrets of the river that speaks to the smallest of ears. It was everything I had imagined it to be in experience. This alertness wasn’t a subtraction but an addition to the experience.

For a person not scared of heights like myself, I took in all that the bridge had to offer. I crossed from one end of it and to the other, and back.

The walk on the bridge reminds you you’re in the presence of engineering ingenuity. The best part is that the user is able to appreciate the stability of the bridge in the support columns on either side of the waters. What’s also plain to see is how local materials – timber braces and chicken wire mesh – have been fused in which makes it as beautiful to the eye as it really is in experience.

Feeling content and the sun beginning to set, we rode back downstream. A trip that took us about an hour before, now took us just 45 minutes.

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Back at the Royal Kutachika, my mates and I took to the bar to enjoy some cold beers whilst looking over the mighty Zambezi river, and the beautiful sunset above it and above the plains.

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As I checked out of the lodge the following day, I was content and fulfilled. I was glad I got to go on this particular adventure in the land of my people. Nothing warms the heart like conversing with strangers in your mother tongue, and that’s exactly what I did.

…Of Draught And Platters. 🍻

Spaces for eating and drinking can be looked at from two points of view; that of the customer, and that of the proprietor.

Firstly, the customer will choose a particular establishment, not only because it sells food or drink but because it also sells

•somewhere to entertain a guest in peace; as in good restaurants

•entertainment; as in nightspots or dinner-dancing venues

•fast service; as in cafés and fast-food outlets

Secondly, the owner will choose to operate an eatery which is also licensed for alcohol.

These establishments are thus referred to as Pub and Restaurant, and may include Cafés and Snack bars.

My client hopes to build a chain of these establishments in Solwezi.

Finding the perfect location to set up shop was crucial and the final decision depended on the need to find balance between

•the availability of customers

•cost of the location

•accessibility; customer parking and goods access

In the end, an open space of 10 meters by 6 meters in a newly built local shopping center was decided on. In here, we managed to fit a show kitchen at the far end and separated by a counter from the customer sitting area, while right beside the entrance fits a bar.

The restaurant’s main feature is the show kitchen which is equipped with a pizza oven, a deep fryer complete with extractors, and durable natural stone splashbacks for the protection of walls from stains when cooking. The bar is complete with a wooden bar and steel stools, and stocked with the best cocktails only money can buy.

For safety reasons, an exit door is to be maintained at the back of the Kitchen in case of a fire while Copper sconce lighting lamps pinned to the wall accentuate the space by way of accessory.

The brief pressed for an establishment where common business deals can be struck but ultimately, achieve a place where family and friends come to socialize over food and drink.

Dream Me An Abode…

It is innate in people looking to plan for retirement in their old age to seek putting their affairs in order by way of building an abode in which to rest their tired head.

This was the case for my client, a man in his forties, who hopes to build a structure which both him and his children can call home. This is to be a monument of his toil and a landmark to show his hard work.

For a well travelled man like himself, he requested a house that embodies both contemporary and vernacular characteristics; contemporary characteristics that he’s grown accustomed to through his various travels and vernacular characteristics that he’s known from his childhood.

This was according to his initial brief…

•Burnt bricks and treated timber for walls and other parts of the superstructure.

•Treated local thatch for the roof.

•Large treated timber pivot doors.

•Regular windows with treated timber window frames, et al.

Inasmuch as I have materials and other components like a thatched roof worked out, the source will be very critical during construction because they will have to blend in with the local environment. For this purpose, the use of local stone was chosen as cladding around the chimney.

In developing the brief further;

•the client asked to have part of the house as a double storey

•a Master Bedroom, a Guest Master Bedroom and two bedrooms for the girls and the boys respectively.

•a Study, a Lounge, a Kitchen and a Dining room.

•a Games’ room and a Gymnasium for recreation.

The self contained master bedroom with a his and hers walk-in closet was thence placed on the top floor to serve as a watchtower for the owner. Apart from a place to rest his head, this bedroom also has a private study and a door leading to a private deck looking over an infinity pool and a timber deck on the ground floor. Interestingly, the deck is also accessible to invited guests via an ornamental copper plated spiral staircase from the courtyard.

A suspended timber deck resting on stilts around the swimming pool was thought to be an ideal representation of the vernacular component as emphasized by the client. Other representations in the design include local clay roof tiles above the bedrooms and the triple carport, as well as a courtyard around the rest of the house which all help bring the vernacular requirement full circle.

Once built, the client dreams to treat his main Living room in themed African paint and with ornamented fabric. This means painting the walls in Moroccan-inspired hues, and subsequently hanging of local African art pieces on the walls while having a themed culture from Southern, Western and North-Western inspire the bedrooms.

Somewhere To Gather 🤝

Dubbed the new mining hub because of the prevalent copper mining activities in the province, Solwezi has enjoyed remarkable development in the last couple of years from roads to shopping malls to office blocks.

Naturally, with such key infrastructure comes the incessant need for supporting infrastructure and such a one is conference centres.

There are currently just a handful of these facilities in the provincial headquarter. None are self supported structures since the few that do exist are largely found at hotels and lodges, and are often overbooked for business seminars, company workshops, weddings and conferences.

Much emphasis was therefore placed on the design; the layout and the aesthetics.

The layout was restricted to only an auditorium, a stage, storage, Lounge, 3 offices and water closets for the two genders.

The auditorium was designed to sit just over 300 people while 2 of the 3 offices provide service to management. The third office is to serve as an office for hire or as a meeting room. The Lounge then accommodates performers and/or presenters.

The design employed Pre-cast concrete portal frames as a technique for ease of construction with rainwater drain pipes securely tucked behind parapet walls and ducts covered by louvers.

The materials of choice were Local stone cladding, timber louvers, glass, mass concrete and copper rods as these realize a structure that boasts of what resources the province has to offer.

Once built, this structure is hoped to help meet the growing demand for conferencing.

The Ultimate Design Solution

Many things come to mind at the mention of Solwezi and the North Western Province: maybe it’s the Likumbi Lya Mize traditional ceremony, the mines or the source of the Zambezi River for some, but for myself, having stayed in Solwezi, dust is what’s synonymous with the town. This is why the town has fondly taken on the moniker, “Kyalo Kya Lukungu” by the local Kaonde people which when translated means, “The world of dust”.

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Dust is the greatest constraint when it comes to designing for the outdoor, and is the challenge I faced designing an extension to an existing eatery.

The café is the first shop out of the carpark in a bungalow building, and it is currently made up of a counter, an indoor eating area and a kitchen.

An increase in demand as a result of its close proximity to Kansanshi mine has made the owners opt to increase their supply by way of introducing a fast food service for sandwiches and burgers. A glass box of frozen meats, sauces and bread rolls below a secondary counter was placed in the indoor sitting zone which has since been relocated to the outdoor.

Having a semi-exposed outdoor sitting area as part of the client’s brief, a solution had to be sought for the dust, and in true outdoor design fashion, a vanished timber pergola with creeping ivy plants was realized.


The idea was to have a hedge and creepers warding off dust from all direction while bringing in beauty and nature to this convenience store at the same time.

In the grand scheme of things, this landscape technique proved to be the ultimate design solution.

A Day’s Companion

One would wonder why I was over the moon when I was commissioned to design for a client a coffee bar at their office; it’s because I love coffee but above all else I love a design challenge.

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Anyone will tell you that they can hardly go through the day without seeking some form of help to stay active and on alert, especially during peak season when deadlines are flying around from everywhere and anywhere.

My cup of tea is a good cup of coffee (See what I did there?) 🙂

Coffee is thee fix of choice to get me through the day, and having this love of hot beverage as well as an appreciation for the benefits it comes with in the the way of revitalizing the soul, in common with the client, we sought to come up with a product that expressed both our ideas for a perfect space.

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For instance, the space had to be divided into zones so as to make it multi-functional, and one such zone is the cabinet and counter-top areas; an appliances counter where the percolator and the coffee tins can go, and a meal counter above stools where users of the space can sit down even just for a few minutes during tea breaks. The cabinets also had to be spacious enough not only for storage purposes but also to fit a small under counter fridge.

D

The idea behind having a coffee table flanked by two sofas on either side in the center of the room with a bookshelf in the back corner was to basically have a zone where the team could come to for short meetings with their respective clients over a cup of their preferred hot beverage.

A beautifully punctured and vanished brown timber partition was fitted to separate this room from the rest of the office so as to achieve privacy. This was also done in such a way that it acts as a feature wall.

B

An oil on canvas painting from a local artist was incorporated in the design as an accessory, while a TV screen was also introduced which the client and the team can use to enjoy a game after hours over chilled drinks to complete the space.

A