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.
Most nights, with my head comfortably resting on my pillow, and deep in sleep, I often fancy myself a Picasso of sorts.
There (in La La Land), I am a brush and concrete is my canvas. While steel, stone, brick, timber, glass, leather, color and artwork are my strokes.
Case in point…
A Lounge, for example, against a concrete backdrop looks pleasant with generous splashes of vanished red brick to break the monotony. Esp when used for built-in tables and built-in seats. A Shisha Lounge can be softened by leather, preferably in a brown, while bright colored scatter cushions, throws and pieces of local artwork can be used to add interest to this space.
Whereas a bar can have a couple of proposals.
The first proposal being, vanished stone cladding just beneath a polished porceline tiled counter top.
The second one can come in the form of vanished red brick counter and counter head to match, with a polished Porceline tiled counter top, against a concrete backdrop and softened by a dusted canvased piece of local artwork flanked by colorful ottomans beneath.
The garden on the other hand, is more musing (I think) with thatch and red bricked dwarf walls and red bricked seats against a concrete boundary wall backdrop. Here, scatter cushions can also be introduced to add hints of color.
Until I wake up, and I realize I am my own Picasso, regardless!
About a week in and it appears to be that 2016 has drifted by just as steadily as we have seen 2017 rowing in, and with it the world over, now is the time to mend broken dreams for some while for others, just the opportunity to build atop of dreams achieved in the previous year either professionally or personally.
Possible common goals would be to soar at a career, to further an education or to leap into the scary and lonely world of the unknown; the world of independence.
Living in a not-so-favorable economy? Maybe!!!
Exorbitant return interest rates on loans from financial institutions? Maybe!!!
Coming from a medium income family and riddled with Black tax? Maybe!!!
…and so on and so forth.
Inasmuch as both options of renting and self build require spending of money, with one of them requiring a lot more of it than the other, the most obvious one would be renting.But, what if you rebelled against what’s most obvious, Hmm?
And, what if you fought the odds and came into some finances by way of disciplined saving? With all these fixed account saving options being offered by most banks which would rather receive money than give it out, now is a good time as any. Money can be saved for as long as you wish and inaccessible to you until such a time as stipulated in the terms and conditions of maintaining the said account, while accruing interest of an agreed percentage all at the same time. I’d advise you to get in touch with your bank for more information.
I realize that it is easier said than done, and maybe too much to ask for, but what if you changed your script in 2017 and building your own little humble abode were possible? How would that space look like?
Well, mine would look something of this sort. Something as simple, yet as elegant as this…
…a one bedroom space with a closet and serviced by an open-planned Kitchen-Lounge with a pantry and a water closet next to a bath and a hand wash basin.
This is as I understand it is what’s called a Bedsitter!
Prologue: “Last year was complicated!” is the line I’ll probably frequently use in 2017 when talking about 2016. The year has without a doubt been a learning curve of sorts for myself in every sense of the word with the blog and rediscovering my niche in the world of Architecture.
Through it, I have learn’t a great deal about my hobby of blogging, but specially, about my profession as an Architect. And what stays with me is mostly the new found knowledge on Container housing, and its application in a Tropical climate. I have also been made aware, as have some of my readers, of Urban Planning phenomena of “Gentrification” and “Ghosttowns”.
While, in my sleep, I have often dreamed that my readers have also appreciated my take on some “DIY” and “Before Meets After” projects that I tackled through my journey of writing in 2016 that draws to a close in a fortnight.
Like 2015, I have blogged 24 times within the year and bringing a total tally to 48 of posts. Not a bad effort, wouldn’t you say?
This post, however, pushes up the statistics to 25 of posts and just 1 post more than last year’s. And it being the last post of 2016, I found it well fitting to share a project that has changed so many times during the design stage that the last proposal now looks altogether different from when it started.
It was like the client and I couldn’t just agree on one thing. There was a lot of back-and-forth Waltz dances between the two parties. The client being located all the way over the Mediterranean Sea and far from here did not entirely help with the endeavor to design a contemporary 4 Bedroom house in the outskirts of the Capital city.
The first proposal certainly mused me more than the intended, because what later seemed like a major facelift was made to come up with the second proposal. This proposal saw the exclusion of the Master Bedroom from the Ground Floor and the introduction of a Family room and a Double Carport in its wake.
This shockingly enough then left ample room for a thoughtfully designed bar counter with a vertical surface to hang artwork and that of the sort.
The third proposal; a product of my handiwork and a baby I am most proud of now shows the re-introduction of the Master Bedroom, and still maintains all other spaces like that for Entertainment on the Ground Floor and the private spaces on the First Floor (Upper Floor).
The fourth and hopefully last proposal (since the project is still ongoing) is basically cosmetics that sees the brushing up here and there of the floor plan; like turning the Kitchen from a much public space into a semi-private space.
Epilogue: I walked away feeling a certain kind of way and with an appreciation from the project. I felt nostalgia for my time back at Architecture school where my full time job was to convince my lecturers of my design even when it did not work, because they (like my client) made it their pastime to call my creations into question. It was quite refreshing just having a client that brought into question my creative process and that alone made it a humbling experience for me.
…and with that, I am humbled that my readers from when I first started with this blogging gibberish have still stayed with me and all I can say is that you helped shape what 2016 has been like. To everyone, to 2017 and all the endless opportunities it promises!