From the Architects:
The permaculture community PORET in Zimbabwe is a client who has inhaled the philosophy of a holistic sustainability. With this project we want to be gentle to the soil, the water, the atmosphere and the people. The lesson from Bangladesh is, that the most successful development strategy is to make the best out of existing potentials and resources. In that way I kept my eyes open for the special potentials in Zimbabwe and tried to use them in a playful way. The permaculture community PORET in Zimbabwe follows the philosophy of a holistic sustainability since 1996. With care, patience, time and seeds, and without any external help they transformed a very dry area into a little fertile paradise. Within their principles they reached as far as they could, but up till now they lacked building knowledge in the same holistic approach.
The main elements of the design were a multifunctional, neutral room, so that the space can also be used for other functions like trainings, dormitory, a sourrounding bench, a timber structure that has enough depth to form niches, an alcove for nestling up,for retreat, for sleeping, for cuddling, for reading, for playing (it could be a bird`s nest, and UFO), it can be used as a small stage for puppet shows and colourful windows with solid frames, so that the larger ones offer a special niche for the kids to sit and to peek out of the bee-hive.
The PORET-kindergarten will thus be the first one erected, acting as a pilot project, (re)generating local craftsmanship and building know-how. Furthermore it is the first kindergarten in the whole rural area of the Chimanimani District , a desolate region that houses about 200 families without any access to education.
The kindergarten is strongly integrated with the permaculture activities on site. The children will learn from the very beginning to take care of plants, to be gentle with the soil, to harvest water and to understand the needs of nature. Apart from this the community also facilitates the personal development of their inhabitants, therefore the two structures will be used as training and meeting spaces for the inhabitants of the surrounding villages as well.
Founded on a stone base, timber was chosen for the main structure, as Zimbabwe is known for its forestry and the community supports tree plantation. Once completed, the wood structure will be covered by thatching as there is a strong tradition of technically excellent and beautifully thatched roofs in the country. Furthermore the traditional way of cutting the grass for thatching reduces the regions fire hazard, meanwhile performing well in low rainfall area where the climate can be harsh. Our aim is thus to rebuild this knowledge since it is vital for the over-all housing condition.
As both the thatching and the stone work are labor intensive, the craftsmen are getting a good share of the building budget. With these local techniques the project aims to build with a process that reinforces solidarity and team spirit, skills and knowledge, self-confidence and dignity. Due to the contexts climate and local conditions buildings, unless built in glass and steel, will not last forever, but it is essential that the know-how to maintain and rebuild them is kept alive and traded on to the following generations . This is why we see this project primarily as a training in advanced building techniques with existing materials that can become the compost of the kindergarten field`s one day.
Because of the amount of termites and ants in that region nothing would last forever. The ability of buildings to turn to compost or to go back to earth without harm of the environment is something positive. The best thing is, when nothing remains from a building but the know- how and skills to make it better. In that sense it is essential to combine the building process with a training of local craftsmen.
Sforza Seilern Architects, an artistic collaboration between Studio Seilern Architects and Muzia Sforza, completed their first African project: a house on a rock. The 1500sqm building is situated atop a granite rock overlooking a large man-made dam, or reservoir for the extensive surrounding...