"The history of every people contains certain invariable elements, or certain elements whose variations are so slow as to be imperceptible."
Octavio Paz, The labyrinth of solitude,1968.
In the origin of Angolan housing tradition, particularly amongst Bantu people, houses an elementary building type composed of a single enclosed space connected to the exterior through a single opening. This elementary building, known as cubata (1), is the fundamental unit that when multiplied and distributed in the open space according to a precise social logic, forms the Bantus’ housing compounds. They are PAVILLION– one of several detached units into which a building is sometimes divided – AND PATIO COMPOUNDS.
In fact, the idea of a PATIO – as an open space unit, stage for daily family life – and a PAVILLION – as an enclosed space unit to shelter the private life – are seen in the ancient African housing structures. Other African people, like the Zulus, had complex building structures similarly generated. The kraal Zulu (2) is the result of huts gathered within an enclosed circular space. The Ashantis’ and primitive Sudanese and Camaronese housing compounds were also generated from the aggregation of similar elementary buildings around a patio.
Reflecting a past socio-spatial organization, today the PATIO-PAVILLION HOUSING TRADITION is still alive in the rural and urban areas, and even in the musseques of Angola.
This proposal is based on the concept of these essential space units, the PATIO and the PAVILLION.
With no site specification, our aim was to design a flexible housing structure that could adjust to the distinct parts of Luanda and its particular environmental, topographical and urban conditions, as well as to the distinct cultural backgrounds that form Luanda’s social landscape. The proposal is based on a flexible process of aggregation of two space units: one enclosed– the cubata, and the other, open – the patio. The aggregation process is structured in the plot and in the urban block levels.
Within the plot, the aggregation process is defined by the distribution of three cubatas in order to configure distinct patios: a) a front yard that mediates the interface between public and private life; b) a backyard where future expansions could take place; c) and a private central patio that integrates, centripetally, family daily activities, including cooking according to the Angolan tradition – close to the ground.
The cubatas are of three types: (a) the private one contains the parents and grandparents bedrooms; (b) the service one, houses the kitchen, bathroom and laundry utilities; (c) the social one, integrates living activities and, at an upper level, accommodates, temporarily, sleeping area for family’s children, which could be transferred to independent cubatas in the expansion area, reinforcing the monofuncional feature of the traditional huts. It is important to highlight that the occupation of the sleeping spaces is variable, allowing families to occupy the bedrooms according to their specific needs.
It is suggested that the housing expansion should follow the same aggregation principle: each new cubata is placed along the central transitional space, always adjacent to open spaces, therefore constituting new private patios. At the end of the aggregation process, each house will be composed of five patios and pavilions that guarantee natural light and ventilation.
In order to better adjust to distinct urban conditions, six distinct space arrangements were generated: a|b|c (Type 1), a|c|b (Type 2), b|c|a (Type 3), b|a|c (Type 4), c|b|a (Type 5) e c|a|b (Type 6). Types 4 to 6 were discarded for functional and economical incompatibilities. Types 1 to 3 constitute the possible arrangements, out of the probable combinations of the referred spatial elements.
URBAN BLOCK LEVEL
At the urban scale, these three housing configurations can be distributed throughout an urban block according to sun and wind conditions. Type 2 is better adapted to East oriented sites, whereas Type 3, to the West. Type 1 is well adapted to both orientations. According to these considerations, four types of plot aggregation are proposed: (a) P1 aggregates types 1 and 2; (b) P2 and P3, types 1, 2 and 3; (c) P4, types 1 and 3.
The proposed urban blocks are defined by the aggregation of these arrangements. Each block is composed of 20 plots, with 5 plots facing each street, reinforcing the interface between public and private spheres. The size of each block is 100,00 x 50,00 meters, guaranteeing permeability for local pedestrian movement. Larger or smaller blocks could be generated, but it is fundamental that each street is constituted by, at least, one housing entry.
The rammed earth building technique was chosen to give form to the cubatas, aiming at the exploitation of Angolan natural resources, cultural heritage and environmental conditions. Because of the nature of the materials used and the wall thickness, a better insulation will be achieved.
For the implementation of the walls it will be placed metallic casts that could b used in the construction of several housing units. . First, the framework is built and filled in with layers of the moist earth, after that the layer of the moist is compressed by mechanically compacting with lever-operated brick-making press properly prepared dirt and next layer of moist is added. This kind of mechanical compression not only compresses the soil, but also vibrates the individual dirt particles, shifting them into the most tightly packed arrangement possible.
The roof is built soil cement rammers on two layers of waterproofing transverse Geotextile and sat on wooden structure.
THE PROJECT’S TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS
STATUS: Ideas Competition
Luiz Manuel do Eirado Amorim
André Moraes de Almeida
Robson Canuto da Silva
Julia da Rocha Pereira
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