Building on tradition
The designers began thinking about technical solutions to meet people's needs. From discussions with the Maasai women, it was clear that they wanted simple improvements to their existing houses, rather than radically different designs. Working closely with home-owners and local organisations, the designers suggested three basic solutions.
- Rammed earth houses - made by ramming soil between two wooden forms (very hard work!).
- Houses made with stabilised soil block walls. The blocks are made locally out of soil mixed with cement, compressed in a moulding machine, then cured (dried) and used for house-building.
- Ferro-cement houses. These are built on a timber frame, with chicken wire or mesh (the ferro) stretched over the top. A thin layer of cement is then plastered over the wire to create more permanent, waterproofed walls.
Many of the Maasai women already had excellent building skills, but needed training in these new techniques. Local women's groups identified one or two people to be trained in each region, who could then share their skills with others in the area. The women were trained in the whole process of house-building - from laying the foundations through to applying final finishes.
A total of 28 Maasai families have now been trained and, as a result, many more are successfully building new homes.
Which house design is most popular?
Raising the roof