Remember the German kid who took his heart and mind to Kenya to build a school for Mama Dolfine's orphanage? Against a variety of odds, he and his team have completed what is probably the first of its kind in the East African country - a bright yellow dome home with sleeping space for eight. As he finds his feet as a social entrepreneur, Torsten Kremser of A Better Me Foundation is discovering just how much money is required to build decent educational facilities. The dome home, a community hub and temporary living space for volunteers donating time and energy to the Korando Educational Center, was specifically designed to stand out from a crowd of similar projects to help fuel meaningful fundraising initiatives.
Torsten told Inhabitat, “When we started this project back in January 2015 the plan was to raise funds to build a permanent school for the center. (We haven’t reached that goal yet). But quickly we had to realize that building a school cost a lot of money. I mean really A LOT. We are talking about $15-20k per classroom.”
“So we changed our approach. We knew that we couldn’t do it alone and so we needed help. And the best way to get help I thought was to bring people to Kenya to see and connect with the Center themselves. That’s how the idea of a volunteer program developed.”
Torsten adds that the dome home was designed to captivate an international audience and make it sustainable. A great deal of emphasis was placed on using local materials and labor, and improvising where necessary to cut costs and minimize construction waste. Nearly 100 percent of materials were sourced within a 15 kilometer radius of Kisumu, according to Torsten, except door knobs or shower taps that needed to be of a superior quality.
Large skylights and windows ensure natural light and ventilation. “It’s like a natural air conditioner,” Torsten says. “We didn’t think it would be that perfect. It’s the place everyone wants to be especially around midday when the sun is high and the other buildings are super hot.”
Self-built solar water heaters, comprising nothing more than a few pipes on the roof, generates about 100 liters of boiling hot water that stays warm until about 10pm. Greywater from the two bathrooms and kitchen are funneled into the fruit and vegetable garden, according to Torsten. “The water runs into gravel holes with charcoal and cardboard to filter and to keep the moisture. We also throw other organic waste into those holes and cover them with mulch. Everything that grows around the holes is doing incredibly well,” he said.
The 3 watt LED lights used indoors are incredibly powerful and super energy saving compared to local energy saver bulbs, Torsten says. The team aims to go solar eventually, when funds are available. Lastly, all 11 wooden doors were made with recycled pine wood from glass shipping boxes, and the 100 plus trees being planted around the house will further offset the impact of construction. Considering how young Torsten is, still in his early twenties, and how little building experience he had before taking on this project, this dome home marks an impressive achievement for a noteworthy cause.
Images via Torsten Kremser