master in architecture
Smile Africa is a rehabilitation program that takes place in Uganda; where street children learn, play and live. The foundation needs buildings that provide shadow during the day; specially educational ones. In order to implement spaces where kids can learn in an appropriate way, one of design approaches is to make an architecture that could also be reproduced, plus, easily learned by locals.
The inspiration of the idea came from the surroundings, specially from an inactive volcano that has a powerful meaning to Uganda. To represent the magnificence of the volcano in the architecture, a prototype space is conceived by gabion walls. These gabions would filled with clay bricks in their interior; which could be recycled bricks or newly made by locals. One interesting featuresof the gabion is that lets the light pass between the spaces of the bricks, creating a special atmosphere. Besides that, the particular roof truss is created from local materials as wood and metal elements. This modular prototype would be reproduced along the land since the gabion wall design has modular properties. The introduction of any program into it, can be easily adjusted with the mud floor design modification. The structure of the wall and roof would stay the same for all the reproductions, however, the economy of the mud floor allow this plane to change anytime. On the interior, screen slides with African women’s fabric as its cover would be adapting the place creating micro-climate spaces. Further, controlling the sunlight and the wind in the spaces.
For the Smile Africa project, one of the main goals of the project behind the physical architecture was to shrink the gap between vernacular architecture and contemporary architecture. What I found most interesting when designing it, was the process of bringing together two worlds, two cultures. The one which I am intervening with a new architecture and the one with the contemporary style that represents the 21st Century. I believe that the introduction of the brick gabion in Uganda is another way of making a step forward towards the development of the architecture in the African culture. As a result, contemporary elements could be mixed with the traditional one -and vice versa-; generating an instant progress in the African culture and in the architectural world.
2015 Fall | Professor Garrison studio, UTSoA