Children House

Zulkifal Ahmed, Mariam Kazi, Rubab Anis
University of Karachi, Department of Visual Studies

Project idea

In the village of Senegal, trees are considered sacred and are protected by the people. The term "protecting our bamboo shoots" is metaphorically used ensuring that adequate development is essential to build a better future for our children as they suffer from stunting due to nutritional problems, caused by poverty, climate change, conflicts and crisis. Located in the village of Baghère, along the secondary access leading to the village and Diarifa placed on a plot with a flat and sandy terrain, lies the Children's house with acacia and mango trees in the background, a space intended to combat child malnutrition through raising awareness in the community and, together with the medical guards, choosing the appropriate treatment for individuals at risk by offering them therapeutic nutritional material and providing free assistance. Our structure acts as an interface between the ground and the sky that brings comfort and warmth. We strive to bring a sense of protection, nurture and sensitivity through a holistic and humane approach. Through the activity of play we restore the missing element in our built environment that adds to the psycho- physical development of the children. The footprint has been set near to the pedestrian access, orientating most of the facade towards the North and creating openings from North- East to South- West for ventilation. Following grid based bamboo frame we have been able to plan our programs such as administration and hospitality in spaces that are aligned along whereas storage and recreational spaces have been formed within the bamboo structure. The recreational wall offers user dynamic and interactive spaces which spark curiosity through the sense of hide and reveal, inviting them to explore, understand and pave ways within the frame. The mud tunnel provides a secure enclosure in contrast to the heightened structure through this the children will be able to express and expand their understanding of experiences within spaces.

Project description

Materials were an integral part of our design process. Our goal was to make responsible choices keeping sustainability, construction, availability and maintenance in mind. The structure is planned on a grid to be made out of Bamboo, a material that is not only affordable and locally available but fast growing and a material we will not run out of. To provide privacy through the walls, the voids between the bamboo frames are covered by bamboo fences and a layer of clay is put over it. The clay walls are sustainable and durable and will keep the structure well insulated. The thick walls of clay can retain heat during the day, and then slowly release it at night. The bamboo fence will act as a reinforcement for the clay walls. For some walls the voids among the framed structure are treated with woven/weaved palm leaves through which the filtered sunlight will come into the spaces and create dramatic shadows, the perforation among the weaving will provide a cooling environment inside the space. Rammed earth is to be used for the flooring of the structure as it is non-polluting and will retain heat inside the structure during colder months preventing extreme interior temperature changes, it does not require any additional waterproofing due to its resistance towards moisture.

Technical information

The construction of the structure can be carried out easily by the local people of Senegal. Before the construction starts bamboo is treated with salt water to protect it from insects. A bamboo structure does not require any reinforced foundation. Therefore, the construction process will start by digging holes into the ground and plugging the bamboos into the holes. After plugging the bamboos, the holes will be filled with crushed stones and weigh on the ground. Later on a binding material is poured over the stones so that the bamboo can stand firmly on its own. The vertical and horizontal bamboo poles will be tied together with coconut rope. After the framed str ucture, bamboo fences are installed as reinforcement within the frames and a thick layer of clay or rammed earth will be laid over it. The roof will be constructed on the same grid by keeping the cavity layer among each grid to trap the hot air and provide insulation to the structure. The roof structure will be covered with sliced bamboos tied together side by side to provide shelter and collect rainwater. The floor will be made of rammed earth which is a mixture of natural and sustainable materials like cl ay, straw, thatch etc. All of these materials combined together in a mixture provide strength and insulation durability


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