Business News of Sunday, 23 December 2012

Source: GNA

African architects challenged to exploit indigenous materials for construction

Diebedo Francis Kere, 2012 Global Holcim Gold winner, has challenged African architects to make use of the abundant materials and human resources at their disposal to create contemporary eco-friendly and community based architecture without compromising quality.

Mr Kere, who made the proposal during Holcim Awards for Sustainable Construction Lecture in Accra, noted that architecture was not about designs but integrating things within the environment to create environmentally congenial architecture familiar to the indigenous African.

The lecture dubbed: “Usage of Indigenous Materials to Create Contemporary Eco-friendly, Community Based Architecture,” was under the auspices of Holcim Foundation and ArchiAfrica.

It was to drum home the need to exploit African talents and the use of local materials to create eco-friendly and community based architecture.

The 2012 Global Holcim Gold Award winner, who received US$300,000, said his aim to transform and use local materials in architecture was motivated by the use of clay to build by most people in Burkina Faso which had withstood harsh weather.

He said for African architects to make the desired impact on improving quality of lives of the people they ought to develop creativity in utilizing local materials like stones, clay, sand, and trees with the help of local talents.

Mr Kere said involving local people, tools and talents in architecture promoted ownership, aroused pride, saved money and enhanced maintenance culture and creativity.

Mr Kere called on architects to build to suit African conditions and culture and be innovative in employing local materials to suit local conditions and improve the quality of life of the people.

Edward Schwarz, General Manger of Holcim Foundation, said the organizers of the award took holistic view of the project including the use of less energy, working with the local people, social issues, economics and functionalism of the project.

He said the target issues were sustainable construction, innovation and transparency, environment and resource quality.

He praised Francis Kere for using the award money to build schools in his home village to benefit about 1000 pupils.

Rolf Soiron, chairman, Holcim Foundation, said in spite of the tremendous achievement made in the construction industry, architects should not be blind of the challenges of urbanization, demography, environment, equity, economic and the value of beauty.

He called on players in the building industry to network with schools and technical universities to encourage debate to multiply solutions.

Francis Kere, from Gando, a village in Burkina Faso, is currently engaged in building mosques, schools, opera, restaurants and museums among others in Mali, Geneva, Germany and China using indigenous African tools and materials.

He lectures at TU-Berlin on designing buildings that are ecologically and socially adequate to their environment and has recently been appointed Design Critic in Urban Planning and Design at Harvard Graduate School of Design.