Inspiring sustainable development has taken root in an impoverished Burundi village. Architect Louise Braverman completed the solar-powered Village Health Works Staff Housing, an 18-bed dormitory for healthcare workers in the remote Kigutu village. The colorful off-grid staff housing is powered entirely by solar and was built with local materials and labor.
Braverman created the self-sufficient Village Health Works Staffing Housing project as part of a wider masterplan created in collaboration with the local community. Constructed from locally produced bricks and concrete framing, the 6,000-square-foot dormitory combines East African building vernacular with innovative off-grid strategies. “Currently rebuilding after many years of horrific civil strive, the villagers hope that this housing will create a model for the sustainable future of both the community and the country,” writes Braverman.
Set into the hillside to take advantage of the earth’s natural insulation, the dormitories open up to breathtaking mountain views and cooling breezes through oversized and colorful public porch doors. The doors and breezeways create three exposures for crosswinds and encourage sociability. High and low windows promote natural ventilation through the natural stack effect and, despite the Kigutu’s equatorial heat, eliminate the need for air conditioning. The shared dining, cooking, and living areas are accessed through large steel-framed Eucalyptus sliding doors.
A nearby solar array and solar water heaters power the off-grid dorms. French drains distribute runoff rainwater from the buildings’ corrugated metal roofs into collection tanks for irrigation. According to the architect, the greatest efficiency is the one achieved by humans: “The villagers, using local bricks, manually built the housing, eliminating the need for fuel-consuming machines and creating transferrable job training skills for members of the entire Kigutu community.”
Images via Louise Braverman, © Iwan Baan