A lot of concept houses come across our desk here at Inhabitat, but we were really impressed with this design for eco-housing in Ghana. Designed by Lisbon-based Blaanc in collaboration with Architect João Caeiro, Emerging Ghana is a plan for an eco-affordable single family house for the emerging middle class of Ghana. The design recently won first place in the international design competition Open Source House, a non-profit organization that aims to provide better, more sustainable housing in low-income countries. Emerging Ghana is modular single-family home design to be built with local materials, local labor, and with all the best sustainable design strategies you can imagine, all for a low cost of about $12,500 USD.The Open Source House competition challenged architects to design an affordable, flexible and sustainable house that will be made available to people living in poor housing conditions. Blaanc and João Caeiro responded with their completely practical and well-considered concept for a single-family home based on the Ashanti compound, a courtyard building with a deep structure and large overhangs that encourage natural ventilation. Modular by nature, the home can grow as funds allow and as the family expands. Construction materials are all locally sourced – rammed earth walls, dahoma wood, and bamboo can all be found nearby to construct the home. Meanwhile, local people would be taught how to build the homes, giving them a new skill set and boosting the economy.
Energy efficiency was a primary design goal to improve the home’s overall sustainability, but more importantly to create a more comfortable living environment with minimal costs. Low-tech energy solutions would be capitalized on to minimize energy use and maximize comfort. Solar passive design with a south-facing structure and large overhangs provides shade for the interior. A solar hot water tank on the large roof provides hot water for the kitchen and bathroom. Orientation of the home improves natural ventilation, while rain water is collected for use within the home and for the garden in the courtyard, which helps provide some of the family’s food. A small scale septic tank manages the household’s waste, while organic waste is composted in the yard. The concept will be built sometime in 2010.
Eco-friendly houses come in all shapes and sizes, made from a wide variety of natural building materials or recycled materials. Sometimes we are given the impression that green building design is only for the wealthy (or those with lots of spare time!). The modular design described above is an example of an affordable and relatively conventional house that is environmentally friendly. This design would be ideal for many areas of South Africa and Africa. Once designs such as these become more widespread, people will realize that it may even cost less to build than standard brick & mortar houses. Modular designs that include provision for energy- and water saving systems reduce installation costs if these are retrofitted. Water Rhapsody conservation systems are designed to be highly adaptable and can be retrofitted or built into houses, office blocks, hotels and wherever there’s a requirement for saving water. If you are designing a new house, it’s obviously beneficial to incorporate our water systems into the design (e.g. use dead space for rainwater tanks). Rainwater harvesting and grey water recycling are great ways to ‘green’ your home. Rainwater collected in water tanks can be used for garden irrigation or household use. Greywater irrigation is another way of saving water; gray water is full of nutrients that plants need too. Contact us for a FREE quote and start harvesting free rainwater now!