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!
Our world is filled with much more detail than most of us care to notice. Unlike the make believe behind the character that is Sherlock Homes, this lack of attention to detail makes us miss some of the simplest of things in real life. The same way some of you might have missed that I wrote “Sherlock Homes” instead of “Sherlock Holmes”.
This is not me calling out anyone, particularly, because I also happen to be one of those constantly falling victim to the vice.
Without talking more for nothing, I’ll get right to it by talking about the various Hard hats out there (Did you know this before now? Well, I just found this out myself.)
Apparently, there are variations to Hard hats than the one that’s most obvious to us – the white one.
Then these variations in turn represent some interesting parties to the project. Who would have known?
On most sites, professionals like Engineers come in the form of Project Managers and sparingly as foremen, depending on the size of the project and are represented by the White Hard Hat that most of us are well acquainted with.
Apart from professionals, some projects will also require the presence of technicians on site. This is the skilled labor that helps move the project forward in the form of Electricians, Carpenters, among other Technical operators, and adorn the Blue Hard Hat over their heads.
The other party is that of semi-skilled operatives in the form of Welders and other similar workers with heat application. These are identified by the Brown Hats on site.
The unskilled set of operatives has skills transferred down to them through apprenticeship from professionals and professionals before them. They are the “muscle” of the project and are comprised of laborers and earth moving operators. These adorn the Yellow Hard Hats.
Allied professionals in the form of Safety Officers make sure that all safety measures are taken and heeded to to avoid loss of life and in the process, legal liability forgone. They also make sure the most Eco-friendly options are employed, and it is probably why they are identified by the Green Hats.
Staying with the spirit of Safety, Fire extinguishers like the hats Fire fighters wear are Red. Need I say more? We all must know at least something about Firefighting, if not, no matter.
Read more here: firefighter
I realise how cliche what I am about to say sounds today, but something about new tricks and an old dog. Lastly, but not the least, there’s you and me who might want to visit a site for reasons relative to us. The Grey Hat is what’s reserved for Site Visitors.
In architecture, perhaps one of the most profound milestones achieved during the 20th century was the radical rethinking to Humanitarian Architecture. And as seen by the provision of Affordable Housing which the century brought about as driven by a worldwide population explosion and the devastation of the past two world wars.
But what does this mean for Zambia? and most importantly the noble country’s Architecture?
Before the above question can be justified with an answer, it’s best to remind ourselves of the basic fact about Zambia being located in a region that experiences the tropical climate. And anyone with a decent memory will tell you from their Geography class that this is because the country lies along, if not, just above the Tropic of Capricorn and away from the equator. The Climate here ranges from mild hot to hot daytime and nighttime temperatures.
Without trailing too far from the question at hand, my answer to the Zambian shortage in supply of decent housing is Container Housing.
Because we live in a region such as we do, I would however care to remind you to take caution before treading along this route.
The containers that I have come across come 20 foot in length for the smaller option and 40 foot in length for the larger one, and are made of metal (which alone, as a characteristic, is a good conductor of heat).
Therefore, if one is going to make a house out of metal, then a lot of modifications need to be sought.
One sure way to achieve this is thorough insulation; straw bales tucked behind painted timber paneling to occupant’s preference would work quite well whilst leaving the house feeling and looking light all at the same time.
Ventilation, is another such way to keep the heat of the Tropics out. Thus generous openings are prudent, and therefore up to the task; Large doors opening onto a patio help add a modern touch to any dwelling besides their cooling effect, and equally large windows help do the same but even more when used with the high level window options.
Having plants (especially trees) near windows to act as shading devices also functions just as well in keeping the interiors cool during those hot summer days.
And since the sun crosses from East to West, it is always wise during orientation at the design stage, to place more openings along the North-South Axis, away from direct sun rays.
Any building characterized by the foregoing rules of thumb is well on its way to cool summer days and nights for its occupants.
In conclusion, I’ll borrow (without any intention of giving them back) the words of the 2016 Pritzker Architecture Prize laureate Alejandro Aravena, who has “chosen” to go the Humanitarian Architecture route with his Elemental firm that takes some time to focus on providing affordable housing in his home country of Chile:
“Socially minded architecture is a choice not a responsibility.”
But maybe it should be more of a responsibility than a choice. Would you not agree?
I’d be the one perfect to attest the powers of living away from the hustle and bustle of the city. I should stress – pun intended of course – here just how fortunate I am that everyday, after hours, I get to travel back to the outskirts of Lusaka, where it’s peaceful and tranquil, and where I call home.
Home can be accessed via numerous routes, but the one of enormous interest to me is along which I find a beautiful eco-friendly straw fence flanking it.
At 2 meter height, this type of fence’s ability to keep dust out is a plus when compared to the rest but the Wall fence.
Straw, as a local construction material, is used here to create a built environment that beautifully and flawlessly camouflages into the natural environment, especially during summertime when it dries into a soothing visual display of golden crispiness.
Like most natural materials, straw, is used for other interesting purposes like thatching and weaving. The Straw reminds me of the architecture of years passed, a style which we would do well to revitalize, and which was heavily dominated by indigenous African themes.
Compromised indoor air quality and a roasting interior are just some of the expenses of living in not only the Tropics like we do but the Global warming era too.
All these are of course “de nos jours” troubles that require equally modern formulae, and a green interior space is just that.
This green space or atrium is a simple space to look at, yes, yet it is one that requires to be planned with extreme precaution only an expert designer can provide. A green wall is an inclusion, often than not, found in this atrium. At construction, this feature wall is partially or completely covered with greenery that includes a growing medium, such as soil, while a compound green wall will also include an integrated water delivery system. Green walls are also known as living walls or vertical gardens.
It is useful to have such an attribute in a modern building because climbing plants on the face of a wall create a green and vegetated facade that is good to gaze at, and softens the concrete surface. Besides their aesthetic characteristics, Vertical gardens also give insulation to keep the building warm, and especially helpful in urban environments where the temperatures of the building reach extremities. Living walls are also acknowledged for remediation of poor air quality, both to internal and external areas since they can be used either indoors or outdoors.
In conclusion, the living wall saves even better when designed to the client’s preference after a selection from a list of available options, and has other unique functions like urban agriculture, urban gardening, or for its beauty as art. It is sometimes used as an unorthodox therapy to help alleviate Sick Building Syndrome.