Before the Flood, Accra 2018

Maha El Achkar
USEK - Holy spirit University of Kaslik

Project idea

The project entitled "Rescue Plan" sets out an architectural adaptation strategy for today’s main international problems climate change and coastal flooding.
The project is located in West Africa on the savannah plains of Ghana's capital.
Coastal city, Accra counts around 2.28 million inhabitants in the coastal area, vulnerable poor people majorly a youth population living in slums.
In fact, the city is suffering from gradual coastal flooding, which according to a study made by the World Bank, by 2040, 6.5 km of Western Africa’s coast will be lost, or submerged in the water. Lots of solutions were found and sometimes applied such as fight against coastal flooding or even move the people to in-lands outside of the capital, however all failed because they were either too expensive or created a cultural shock. Today, Africa’s Bank of Development is offering 140 million of euros to build dikes and piles along the coast.
Since mankind can’t fight against nature’s power, hence, how with ecological solutions, using water as an asset, a rescue plan could help Accra’s vulnerable people build an urban resilience and climate change adaptation system and lifestyle?
The rescue plan starts now, in order to most importantly save the vulnerable people, and create a climate change/coastal flooding adaptation and an urban resilience.

Project description

The rescue plan is entitled “Before the flood” is based on the concept of adaptation which requires an object, here is the people , a subject, coastal flooding, and a reference plan, which will be the architectural approach.
An “organization” will then developed a reference plan, using the 140 millions of euros donated by Africa’s Bank of Development on the first hand aiming for "soft engineering" and on the other hand architecture that will be concretized along an area of 1km by 7km containing a mangrove, over which by 2040, the water will gradually rise, and that will be a specimen for other cities in the same situation.
On the first hand, the vegetation of the coast and any residual space in the city, will absorb water to slow coastal flooding. Furthermore, water tanks planted throughout the city will be used to recover and reuse rainwater.
On the second hand and after analyzing the slums of Accra, a basic unit of 3x3m will be the focal point of all interventions. A unit consisting of a living space, the capsule, a structural bamboo toilet anchored to the ground acting as an axis on which the dwelling moves when water rises and a periphery for extensions such as closets for storage or shelves for commerce. The slab is made by recycled gallons and the structural system is based on the “paletuviers” trees of the mangrove and both helping with the resting and floating position of the unit. The rest of the structure is made with pillars and beams of bamboo, the elevations are with recycled and reused materials.
As a result, a group with 5 interventions based on this unit will form the sewing tool of the city suffering from coastal flooding.
- A workshop called "Climate IQ workshop" will initiate the rescue plan by educating for climate change, and teaching a construction adapted to this phenomenon.
- An initiative of Grow your shelter will be the experimental field of the workshop. Homes built by planted bamboo and will serve as an example and response to the population growth.
- A system of filling the void by planting and wrapping existing homes will be the project that will transform any home into an adaptable and resilient one.
- A shrimp farm associated to a shrimp and fruits and vegetable market will play a double-edged role, sometimes to sew the odds and sometimes to create jobs for the young population and reduce unemployment in the city.
- An artistic pole of recycling, learning and selling of African art product closes this cycle, in which the African people express themselves.
Thus, global problems should be solved by local solutions.

Technical information

The project is based on a sustainable approach.
The whole project is constructed with bamboo, a material existing in Accra and that requires the local know-how of the people, and most importantly water resistant.
In fact, instead of delivering finished units to users, “Grow Your Shelter” methodology is based on self-made units in progress that provides an open source system adjustable to user’s need.
The structure is made with bamboo and all the elevations in recycled and reused materials found in the city and slums. All units have a system of reusing rainwater, a floating slab for climate change and coastal flooding adaptation, and louvres in the upper part of the elevations for natural ventilation.

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