Malaria, what a disaster.. ‘Casa Rurale’ was struck by disease last week. Me and our fellow architect Jackson of team 2 were knocked down by Malaria. It’s a disease against which you build up resistance, so next time it will be less destructive. After rain comes sunshine. Reborn for a week of designing and researching local building techniques.
But unfortunately I read my teammate did not write about our great dancing experience. Building with earth is not only a job. It is pure entertainment and a social activity. While we are mixing soil, sand and cow dung with our feet, the children start to imitate. You’re just having fun and getting together when you’re preparing your building material. Unthinkable with the current materials we use in our buildings.
Last Saturday our new African friend Immanuel took us by motorbike to his home village Kapomboi and the nearby village Kapkoi. The soil they build with is much different from ours, it contains more sand and is therefor perfect building material. We visit an old lady with a brand new house. Her son built it for her. It is made out of sundried interlocking bricks.
The stones are covered with just paint. They’re an infill of a cement column and beam structure. We’re not looking to add any cement to our building, but this is a real developed home towards more western standards. Unfortunately this lady will never be able to extend her house herself anymore, but she knew damn well how everything was put together. We could ask her anything! She got this new house in November and left her mud house for it. Actually this house looked pretty good still and she lived in it since the 60’s. These primitive houses are more durable than we assume.
In kapkoi we visit a ‘Mzee’ (old man) who is building a new house. Kapkoi is known for their baked bricks, but this is done very sketchy. They built a big dome from sundried mudbricks, and cover the openings with mud. After this they light a fire in this dome. So the inner bricks crack while other bricks are not even touched by the fire. This results in very irregular bricks with all different properties.
Also their way of constructing with wood is very sketchy, but representable for the entire area here.
Most people have several jobs. One week they’re a ‘bodaboda-driver’ the other week they are a ‘fundi’ (construction worker). It is visible that there is a lack of craftsmanship in this area. This probably means that education to become a proper construction worker is or absent, or it is far away. But we definitely got the message. We need to keep our building simple in order to share basic knowledge about building. Everyday here is a day full of lessons and teachings.