Designing and Building in Central and East Africa

Introducing a new detail. My strategy.

I have been warned against trying anything new.  “You will not have the capacity to oversee such unique details – and many of the contractors will simply ignore things they don’t understand.  Besides, you will just be creating extra work for yourself.”

In some ways it is true.  Working with over 270 communities, the names of communities and complications of individual projects are already starting to blend together.  Further, contractors (as most architects will tell you) often make mistakes.  The difficulty in this part of the world though, is nor do they ask questions.  Introducing even the smallest innovations will clearly be more work for everyone.

Some ideas however, ideas are two hard to pass up.

The Liter of Light concept has been on my mind since installing a series of them in Kenya.  This is a simple and wonderfully effective detail that I am determined to introduce it into our school projects.  This starts with a construction detail but doesn’t end there.  On the sheet that I have inserted into our construction documents, I have included photos to illustrate a 1,2,3 process.

Liter of Light construction detail

Liter of Light construction detail

This additional detail will also have to be accompanied by the budget: 1 bottle of ammonia $5, one extra roof panel $20, black sealant $12, plastic bottles $1ea.  As long as these line items find their way into the contract, I am well on my way.

Next, I will have to purchase a few materials myself, make a prototype, hold a team meeting with my 30+ technicians, break them into teams, and have them build a prototype for themselves.  Soon, I will be armed and ready to try something new.

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