The University of Agostinho Neto in Angola is considered one of the greenest buildings in all of Africa. Designed by Perkins+Will Architects, it positions classrooms to make the best use of natural ventilation and cooling by drawing breezes directly into the building. Trees arranged in a line create a funnel, through which winds blow.
Djibouti’s eco domes
This eco dome being built in Djibouti is made using SuperAdobe bags, a kind of long sandbag filled with local earth. It was developed by architect and CalEarth founder Nader Khalili. This innovation was inspired by traditional earth architecture found in Iran’s deserts, and is simple to implement. Non-profit organization Eco Domes Africa promotes building these structures on the continent.
A house made of hemp
This was the brainchild of Tony Budden, who wanted to show off hemp’s tremendous versatility. Working with New Earth Architecture and Wolf & Wolf Architecture, he set out to create one of South Africa’s most sustainable homes. According to Budden, hemp is a great construction material because of its sustainability while offering good insulation, helping reduce heating and cooling costs.
Harnessing natural light
Designed with the environment in mind, the Learning Resource Centre of the Catholic University of Eastern Africa in Kenya uses locally available materials. Designed by environmental expert Musau Kimeu, it maximizes on natural lighting to save energy costs on artificial lighting while also depending entirely on natural ventilation. The building also collects rainwater to be used to water the lawns.
Inspired by termite mounds
The Eastgate Center in Zimbabwe takes inspiration from termite mounds for its ventilation system. The mostly concrete building, designed by Mick Pearce, draws in outside air which is then either warmed or cooled by the structure depending on which — air or concrete — is hotter. The building uses only 10 percent of the energy of a similarly sized building because of savings on air conditioning.
More than just mud
In Ghana, Hive Earth — a construction company based in Accra — is building affordable housing with an ancient process called “rammed earth.” It’s an old technique that mixes laterite, clay and granite chippings — and a minimum of cement. The buildings are robust and also use a natural underground cooling system. It is a 21st-century update on the traditional mud houses from the past.
Author: Melanie Hall