African Design Magazine March 2015 - Page 34

OFF THE Embedded in mountainside of the rural village of Kigutu, Burundi the 18bed Village Health Works Staff Housing is a romance between East African elemental aesthetics and inventive off-the grid sustainability. C utting a skewed line in the terrain, the 6 000 square foot dormitory captures breathtaking mountain views. Currently rebuilding after many years of horrific civil strife, the villagers hope that this housing will create a model for the sustainable future of both the community and the country. Porous porches To encourage the Kigutu outdoor communal culture, the oversized public porch doors seamlessly connect inside and out, welcoming all who enter. Similarly the private sleeping rooms, each with its own personal vividly colored entry porch, echo this semipermeable sensibility. The porosity of the porches encourages sociability, enhances airflow into the adjacent sleeping rooms, and frames magnificent unobstructed transverse views of the landscape. Sustainable strategies The same elemental design moves that establish its aesthetics will also advance its sustainability. Since Kigutu is 100% off the municipal grid, a nearby solar array and local solar water heaters exclusively power the housing. Sited partially below grade, the location of the building both reduced excavation costs and takes advantage of the earth’s natural insulation for temperature control. Eliminating the need for air conditioning, the personal porches create three-sided natural ventilation within the bedrooms. The 34