“The ultimate design problem: How do you do the most with the least? We needed to create transferable job skills. It's a seismic zone that requires 21st-century expertise.” Braverman
Located in the 40-acre village of Kigutu, a two and a half hour drive from Burundi’s capital and Designed by New York’s Louise Braverman, Architect, the 6,000-square-foot, 18-bed staff dormitory takes its inspiration from the local vernacular Architecture. The concrete structure is infilled with locally made bricks, and features deep porches that nod to the indoor/outdoor communal living spaces of the region and promote community engagement. Kigutu is entirely off the grid, and a solar array and solar hot water heaters located at the rear of the structure provide all power. Dug into the hillside as it is, the brightly colored dormitory takes advantage of the insulating land mass for natural cooling.
To encourage the Kigutu outdoor communal culture, the oversized public porch doors seamlessly connect inside. Similarly the private sleeping rooms, each with its own personal vividly colored entry porch, echo this semi-permeable sensibility. The porosity of the porches encourages sociability, enhances airflow into the adjacent sleeping rooms, and frames magnificent unobstructed transverse views of the landscape.
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. The personal porches aren’t just significant in the social realm but enhance a three sided natural ventilation system which eliminates the need for mechanical air conditioning and ventilation. The location of the window openings also creates a natural stack effect that amplifies the airflow and are protected by the extended roof overhangs from the unforgiving tropical sun. However, all said, the greatest efficiency is the human efficiency. The villagers, using local bricks, manually built the housing, eliminating the need for fuel consuming machines and creating transferrable job training skills for members of the entire Kigutu community. These skills extend further than just this housing project and will be duplicated further in other projects in Kigutu that may have little or no contribution from this project team.
“Sustainability is not an added benefit in Kigutu. It is a necessity.” Braverman. This quote from the Architect sums the deceitful simple project in Kigutu and shows the importance of the skills learnt by the locals in the execution of the housing.