This cluster of dwellings provides housing for primary school teachers in the small village of Gando. Six houses fan out in a wide arc from a shared arrival point, marking the southern limits of the school site. Three housing types, each based on a module as large as a traditional round hut, are combined in various ways to form a more complex whole.
The designs are simple and the range of materials minimized so that they can be adopted and adapted by the villagers. The technology used in the houses is new in the region, climatically efficient and makes full use of local resources. No timber or steel was used. Each housing unit consists of three parallel walls made of stabilized earth brick supporting compressed earth block barrel vaults which form permanent shuttering to a topping of reinforced in-situ concrete. The 400mm thick walls stand on foundations of granite and concrete, which prevent moisture from rising.
A tie beam at the top of the wall bears the loads from the barrel-vault. The roofs are constructed to two different heights. The intersection of the two forms a sickle-shaped opening, providing ventilation and daylight to the interior. Roof projections also protect the walls against erosion and moisture penetration, while specially formed channels at the top and ends of the walls allow for water runoff.
In the render, bitumen replaced the traditional organic additives, giving a more durable finish. The housing project continues the principles of sustainable development and appropriate technologies established in the school building. Villagers assisted in the production of the building materials and the houses’ construction.
Altogether, around 15,000 blocks were produced – between 600 and 1,000 a day by the villagers, while the climax of the building work was the tamping of the clay floors to create a smooth homogeneous surface.
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