GANDO, Burkina Faso — There are many ways to eliminate extreme poverty. Discussed below are three sustainable architectural designs that could greatly benefit areas in the developing world.
Building With Clay and Community
Architect Diebedo Francis Kere is from Burkina Faso, one of the poorest countries in the world. At the age of seven, he left his home in Gando to attend school in the city. This eventually led to a scholarship to study in Berlin, Germany. Kere studied architecture and planned to use his new knowledge to help his community back in Gando. Kere returned to his home town to build a school from clay. Initially, his community was hesitant to help due to the rainy seasons in the country. Kere decided he would just have to show them.
The community gathered to build the school and spent hours smashing the clay into finer and finer pieces until the clay had formed a solid wall. They then spent hours more polishing the clay. The resulting pressed clay was used to form the walls and floor of the school, followed by a combination of inexpensive steel bars and clay to create the roof. Other projects of Kere’s in Gando include a high school and library.
Architect Rachel Armstrong proposes a new approach to building: incorporating metabolic materials in architecture. Armstrong works with other scientists to create these materials, which include protocells in their makeup. This “bottom up” approach and use of materials can extract carbon dioxide from the air, grow and even repair themselves. Armstrong proposed the example of using protocell technology to grow a limestone coral reef underneath the sinking city of Venice, Italy.
“The benefits are that you don’t have to spend a lot of time, money and energy trying to work against nature or natural forces.” Armstrong notes that we spend approximately two- three percent of the original costs of a building per year on maintenance and repair. She further explains that by creating self-repairing architecture, maintenance costs can be decreased.
Turning Sand Dunes into Architecture
Desertification and drought results in moving sand dunes and forced migration. This phenomenon threatens the economic stability of communities who are forced to leave as a result of these “moving mountains.” Originally, a solution for stopping moving sand dunes was developed in 2005 called the Great Green Wall Sahara. The plan involved 24 countries planting vegetation to stop grains of sand from moving across the desert.
Architect Magnus Larsson has designed a different solution in support of the initiative. Larsson’s solution proposes utilizing a form of bacteria that causes solidification of sand into sandstone. By combining this bacterium with the sand, Larsson suggests turning sand dunes into architectural, livable mounds, thus slowing the progress of these moving mountains of sand. His plan proposes a 6,500 km stretch of solidified sand dunes. Larsson explains, “After an initial cost of 60 bucks to buy the bacteria, which you’ll never have to pay again, one cubic meter of bacterial sand would be about 11 dollars.”
As these designs are practiced and perfected, they may one day provide solutions to poverty-associated issues. These could include vulnerability to natural disasters, affordable methods of economic development and reductions in migration.
– Christopher Kolezynski