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Inhabitable Walls

Kaira Looro

When an emergency strikes, it tears down everything in its path- from people, houses and cattle   breaking  down the moral of the victims.

However, an Emergency Operations Center should be easy to erect, cost effective, climate responsive and modular. The materials required to build it should be easily available and accessible. This is exactly what AMANI IWA NAWE aims to do. Provide respite and comfort.

AMANI IWA NAWE means Peace be with you in Swahili.

There are two separate grids on basis of which this EOC is designed - A structural and a non-structural which are independent of each other. The most important part of the design ideology is that the structural grid is important and easy to assemble. The internal walls are simply partition walls and do not play a role in transfer of load from the roof.

Impermeable tarp – helps to keep the rain water out. Helps to keep the building watertight. The tarp will also prevent sand and dust from entering the space. It will help to protect the bamboo mat which is the inner lining of the roof.

This bamboo mat is made from locally available bamboo and palm leaves that are woven and intertwined together to make a mat- which is an insulating material and can be produced widely at barely any cost. Slit bamboo jali – the bamboo acts as a second skin for the space and provides a beautiful texture and appearance to the EOC.

Wooden jali revolving doors – these revolving doors will form the inner skin for the space. They will help to provide privacy as well as help for air circulation and keep the building well ventilated

Wooden floor boards– these floor boards are easily available and quick to assemble. They will not heat up in arid conditions and are light weight as well.

L shaped brackets will be used to mount the columns to the beams.

The structural system- the beams and columns are made of reclaimed wood. Wood again acts as a great insulator. It is easy to assemble as well as disassemble. It is light weight and cost effective.

Flooring- local sand and rocks- laterite

Internal walls are made of rammed earth – earth is readily available. It is inexpensive and is also an excellent insulator. Which is very important taking into consideration the climatic conditions of sub Saharan Africa. These walls can be built and demolished quickly.

There is space for storage of equipment and supplies. The entry point of the building is in the center. For privacy in the assistance, reception and monitoring space - rammed earth walls as well as cloth curtains have been provided which provide enough privacy for the people occupying those spaces but also, at the same time have a sense of openness and impermanence to them.

The volume of the space is very large with the roof at an incremental increase from 3.5 meters to 6 meters at the central courtyard. This large volume provides a welcoming sense to the refugees, providing them with a space where they will feel safe. Since a large influx of people is anticipated in this space, it will not feel claustrophobic and cramped.

The extremely hot and dry climate of Sub Saharan Africa makes it imperative that the EOC responds to this climate using mainly passive cooling techniques to provide maximum comfort to those using the space without the employment of any artificial cooling techniques. There are three interconnected courtyards. The central courtyard has a water body in it whereas the two courtyards on either side of it are laid with grass and groundcover. The warm air rises up and escapes from the courtyards and is propelled out through the trellis over the central courtyard. The water in the central courtyard will evaporate and increase the moisture content of the air hence making the occupants feel comfortable. They also help to bring in ambient light to the space. The grass lawns help to soak in water when it rains and the water is then directed to storage tanks underground. This harvested rain water can be used in times of need.

The material palette and color palette of the EOC is such that earth colors, and materials are used. The structure is such that it has risen from the ground beneath it and will merge with the ground below it someday.

The design of the EOC metaphorically imitates the color palette and texture of a large tree with the trunk of the tree merging with the ground but the foliage spreading out and standing out in the vast sub Saharan landscape.

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