The Communal

Location: Meseru, Lesotho

A low cost housing competition

The proposal focuses on the rural urban migration aspect that is one of the leading factors for the housing shortage in Maseru, Lesotho. This movement towards the urban center is triggered by the idea that better employment opportunities can be availed and thereby a better living standard. However, with limited employment opportunities the situation becomes direr than before. Our proposal therefore focuses on creating not just a house but also a neighborhood that can help sustain the residents in manners they cannot individually.

Inspired by the modernist notion of a core with in design aspects, the individual house and the neighborhood is designed around a central core. Within the neighborhood, it acts as a space where the residents can utilize their skill sets to produce goods (the production space) and within the house, it holds the service spaces. As per our research, some common skill sets are weaving, shoe making and dyeing.

Surrounding the production space is the space for the agricultural purposes. Maserus’ soil does not hold an adequate amount of nutrients to allow crop growth. Coupled with the fact that households generally do not have enough money to purchase fertilizers, the dry waste from individual houses will be utilized to provide the necessary nutrients. One barrel is provided for every two residential units to collect the dry waste.

Ten residential units are then stacked around the production space and the agricultural space. The housing units are made up of three types. The system employed has a ground floor unit, a ground plus one and a ground plus two unit. Frame structures are to be provided for all units with the top units constructed to completion. The left over spaces beneath the ground plus one and ground plus two units are to be utilized as per need. The ground floor unit can be occupied by the elderly. The other two can be used for expecting families and larger families.

The individual unit is designed around a core that that holds the kitchen space and the bathroom space. The core allows the peripheral spaces to be easily utilized by the bedrooms and the living spaces.

The material pallete for the house includes the vernacular construction techniques for the roof – thatch and wooden rafters, recycled plastic bottles with in an MS frame for the exterior walls layered with thatch and lime and MDF panels for the interior walls.

The roof structure for the house is an inverted form of the vernacular canopy roof. It is inspired by the ‘ulta chatta (inverted umbrella)’ used to collect rainwater. The channel collects water from the individual houses into a rain water filtration tank and then to the communal water tank.

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