What would happen if I take a team of recent graduates and students of architecture, volunteers and local artisans to build a modern mud house in a village in Ghana using earth and other local materials?
This Spring, Nka Foundation in partnerships with M.A.M.O.T.H. Association from France issued a call to recent graduates and students of architecture, design and volunteers from around the world to participate in “Earth Architecture Workshop: Mud Hut Design in Ghana”. The workshop was led by M.A.M.O.T.H. Association. It was designed to enable the workshop team immerse themselves in the daily life and traditional architecture of the Ashanti people of Ghana and to draw from that experience to build the 1st prize winning design in Nka Foundation’s Mud House Design 2014 competition, which was won by M.A.M.O.T.H.
For three months, starting from January till May 2015, the team collaborated on the building process based on site at Abetenim Arts Village near Kuamsi. The workshop was successful in the tracks of cultural immersion, research and construction, as efforts to change the local stereotype about building with local earth because of poor construction.
The workshop began with house calls and tours of the local mud architecture and talking to the local people to gain awareness and knowledge of the local building traditions. Taking into account the site conditions and discussions on the experience, the workshop team reviewed the winning design, completed the design process and built their proposal with local labor. Nka’s expectation of providing the opportunity for the emerging architects to design and build their own design is that at the end of the design-build process, the emerging architects will learn to design what is buildable.
The built house is named Sankofa House. The design of the house draws from one of the surviving examples of traditional Ashanti architecture, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The word Sankofa in English language means “reach back and get it” or reclaimation to suggest a need to reflect on the past to learn to build a sustainble future. In the attached presskit, therefore, M.A.M.O.T.H. reflects on the process of designing and building the Sankofa House and their Facebook page: www.facebook.com/pages/M-A-M-O-T-H/697563360309497 documents the workshop progress from start to finish. Please, take a look! If you are a news editor, you may email to firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com for the full text of the presskit. Here is a link to a selection of high resolution photos of the workshop process: https://yadi.sk/d/eGnzJ752hGnd5
What is next? There are upcoming workshops by other design teams whose entries were among the Top 20 Designs in the Mud House 2014 competition. For example, the workshop for the building of the 2nd prize wining design by Atelier KOE from Senegal will be held at Abetenim from February 5 to April 5, 2016; while the 3rd prize winning design by Jason Orbe-Smith from the USA will be built in Karsirwa at the Eastern slope of Mount Kilimanjaro from August 1 to November 30, 2015. For a full list of the all the workshops, visit: http://nkaprojects.boards.net/thread/31/prototyping-usability-testing .
And registration and submission of entries for the 3rd Earth Architecture Competition, Designing for the Arts runs from August 1 to October 30, 2015. The challenge is to design a unit of an arts village for Ghana that can be built by maximum use of earth. See: http://www.prlog.org/12453401 / https://eventbrite.com/event/16829232688 for more information.