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Going green using local clay for building

Going green using local clay for building

Aug 5, 2014

By Kathy Gibson at #UIA 2014

Sustainability is about more than using environmentally-friendly manufactured materials – there are many uses for locally sourced materials for local projects as well.

Francis Kere is an architect from Burkino Faso and an expert in clay technologies, who has successfully  built both functional and beautiful buildings using local clay.

Kere points out that African urban planning tends to mirror the cities of the former European colonial powers. and architecture heritage – despite the fact that these forms are not necessarily relevant in the African context. “We don’t like the colonial structure, but we don’t change it,” he says.

In the villages, however, housing tends to be made using local materials, but there are often problems like fire and longevity with these structure.

In addition, communal buildings like schools are likely to be badly built, windowless structure will corrugated iron roofs. These buildings are hot, crowded and not conducive to learning.

“I was lucky, I left the local school and studied in Germany,” Kere says – but millions of children are not afforded those opportunities and are trapped in the uncomfortable, dysfunctional village schools. Kere determined to build a new school in his home village.

The first project was to convince the community to collaborate on the project. Once there was buy-in, local stones were gathered for the foundations.

The walls and roof were constructed from local clay, using a design that provides good air flow and cooling without having to rely on the notoriously expensive Burkina Faso electricity supply.

Even floors were made from clay, stamped and beaten down, then polished to a high gloss finish using stones. The cool, open and airy school has proved popular with schoolchildren, who use every corner of it, Kere says. In addition to the first small school project, Kere has used locally-sourced clay to build a high school, national park, museum and village.

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