Kenya Building Manual - ch


Kenya Building Manual

The Project :

The discourse surrounding social responsibility, has shifted from one of participation, marked by state-sponsored projects, such as the Marshall Plan; to one of Initiation, as is evident with the proliferation of NGOs, which currently represent the world's 8th largest economy. Social responsibility for spatial designers is already folded into the definition of our collective built environment.  It is not an aspect or quality that requires import, only recognition and engagement.

What has marked this shift in both thinking and doing is not a new set of abilities or new forms of agency, rather it is a change in positioning (how do we begin, foster, and realize socially responsible projects?) and approach (what is our place in this realization process, and how do we move beyond passive engagement to active creation?). Though new mechanisms have developed, new systems have emerged, and novel precedence have been set (all of which have expanded the way designers are able to address social concerns), social responsibility is first and foremost a matter of practice. For a set of disciplines guided by the mission to effect change in the built environment, social responsibility is one of many frameworks through which spatial design practices intervene in the world. And, it is within the world,  within its material, political, and technological composition, that designers must find means for adaptation and response.

This project continues a series of practical and academic design investigations that the focus on innovations in sustainable and socially responsible design interventions. This current iteration will focuses on reuse (materials, techniques, performances, and forms) and communication (universal, accessible, procedural, and affected) as two modes of  production that expand spatial design beyond the its immediate and specific goals of shelter and place, and into the broader project of our built environment. 

The Manual:

The Kenya Building Manual is a graphical explanation of low-impact building techniques and material assemblies for small-scale, community-based housing projects. The research and publication combines expertise in design, construction, and education from GA Collaborative (New York & Kigali), a design non-profit working with underrepresented communities in central Africa and western Asia, with Seeds of Life (London & Kisumu), a micro-finance community-based non-profit. Together, along with student researchers and designers from the Rhode Island School of Design and the University of Virginia, we have been developing innovative construction techniques, based in local traditions in an effort to empower communities to shape their own built environments.

The project, which began in June 2016, has yielded 14 housing prototype designs, utilizing 13 core construction techniques, with over 200 pages of drawings and diagrams. Our approach has been to draw correlations between a select set of material performances, structural systems, and assembly strategies to create a collection of techniques that can be combined, modified, and applied to small-scale housing projects. The manual brings together research on Kenyan housing typologies, including social and cultural definitions, spatial affordances and functions, material economies and construction strategies, building-to-landscape relationships, and regional infrastructure. The research is focused on identifying and expanding on rather than replacing local building traditions and material assemblages to further develop innovative and sustainable ways of making and constructing.

The publication consists of 6 chapters, which include: 1) project background and design considerations; 2) Kenyan housing data, with regional site conditions (climatological, environmental, infrastructural, educational, demographical, and political/cultural); 3) locally-sourced and imported building materials; 4) assembly and construction techniques; 5) prototype housing designs; and 6) future implementations. Each chapter is presented with minimal text relying instead on a graphic language to communicate step-by-step instructions in a spatial and serial manner.  

Chapters & Sections


Ch. 00 | Front Matter

  • Copyright
  • Publisher
  • Editor
  • Graphics Info
  • Partners


Ch. 01 | Introduction

1.01 | Introduction

  • About Project
  • About Studio
  • About Partnerships 

1.02 | Research & Project Data

  • Project Phases
  • Prototypes
  • Global North & South (map)
  • Participants & Organizations (Map)
  • Project Schedule


Ch. 02 | Guide

2.01 | How to use this book

2.02 | Iconography:

  • Materials
  • Tools
  • Operations

2. 03 | Mappings:

  • Regions
  • Boundaries
  • Points
  • lines

2.04 | Data Graphics:

  • Typological
  • Spatial
  • Temporal


Ch. 03 | Context

3.01 | Mappings:

  1. Income / Poverty 
  2. Climate Risks 
  3. Water Bodies 
  4. Transportation 
  5. Population Density 
  6. Topography 
  7. Vegetation 


3.02 | Data Graphics:

  1. Annual Rainfall 
  2. Solar Orientation  
  3. Diurnal Temperature Fluctuation 
  4. Seasonal Temperature Fluctuation 
  5. Wind Orientation
  6. Humidity
  7. Housing : Program & Materials 


Ch. 04 | Assemblies

4.00 | Notes on Translations - Krishna Chaitanya Lingulta


4.01 | Earth Bags  - Anya Smith

4.02 | Weaving - Xinzhou Jiang 

4.03 | Framing (Bamboo) - Hannah Liongoren

4.04 | Framing (Steel) - Ivie Cao

4.05 | Roofing (Corrugated Steel) - Youngju Lou

4.06 | Masonry (Compressed Earth Block) - Udeeta Jain

4.07 | Masonry (Brick & CMU) - Shanaiya Maloo

4.08 | Roofing (Ferrocement) Eshank Rishi

4.09 | Roofing (Thatch Roofing) - Shuang Li

4.10 | Concrete Ring Beam - YJ Im

4.11 | Foundations (Concrete & Stone) Min Hee Kim

4.12 | Bini Shell - Di Qiang

4.13 | Rammed Earth - Claudia Ruiz 



Ch. 05  | Prototypes

5.01 |  Yametungwa Nyumba (Prefab House) - Ivie Cao 

5.02 | Lamba Hema Nyumba (Thatch Tent House)  - Shuang Li

5.03 | Mazingira Samani Nyumba (Landscape Furniture House)  - Renae MinHee Kim

5.04 | Mgawanyiko Nyumba (Split House)  - Krishna Chaitanya Lingulta

5.05 | Fuma Sanduku Nyumba (Woven Box House) - Xinzhou Jiang  

5.06 | Jani Nyumba (Leaf House) - Hannah Liongoren

5.07 | Kiuchumi Nyumba (Cloud House) - Di Qiang

5.08 | Kivuli Nyumba (Shadow House)  - Claudia Ruiz 

5.09 | Utepe Nyumba (Ribbon House)  - YJ Im

5.10 | Kuba Nyumba (Vault House) Eshank Rishi

5.10 | Mrengo Wa Nyumba (Butterfly House) - Shanaiya Maloo

5.12 | Hai Ukuta Nyumba (Finger House) - Udeeta Jain

5.13 | Hewa Kukamata (Air Catcher House)- Youngju Lou 

5.14 | Mara Mbili Nyumba (Dual House) - Anya Smith


Ch. 06  | Implementation / Credits & Acknowledgements

6.1 | Project Phases

6.2 | Implementation

6.3 | Project funding & Support