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Cote d' Ivorie, Lagoon Aby, Cote D’Ivoire 
Friday 07 May 2010
 
Innovation out of Africa 
 
 
 
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No. of Comments: 4

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21/05/10 abu razeen, kuala lumpur
i reserve my comments on the architectural design.

i support the intention and aspiration of those concerned to provide the basic comfort and security that average human beings deserved.

unfortunately in some countries, the poor are more often than not, provided with low-grade housing - the so-called 'low -cost housing' being taken for granted.

low-cost housing should be re-defined.

it must not be of poor quality and workmanship, poorly designed and too small for basic comfort.
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19/05/10 Marcel, Zurich, Switzerland
Nice and cosy village concept. Yet with some doubtful details. The spider web-like stucture in the centre appears completely overdimensioned and thus unelegant. The inclined beams are like an invitation to climb onto the roof for a dance, wich is cool, but ugly anti-climbing details will probably be the consequence. Or am I thinking too European? The other zig-zagged roof should have ventilation openings in roof to let the hot air out. And a bit more shade on the plaza would for sure also be appreciated.
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18/05/10 AhAnthony Hyland, Durham
The project is a rare example, in the tropics, of a specialised housing type. description reads convincingly, and from the photographs, looks attractive. But I question the suitability of flat, earth covered, greenery planted roofs for the housing in a humid tropical zone with such high rainfall as coastal Ivory Coast. Not so far from Abidjan is the housing for retired priests of the Archdiocese of Kumasi, Ghana, founded about ten years ago by Archbishop Peter Sarpong, within the forest settlement known as Christian Village, planned some thirty years ago by students and staff of the Department of Architecture of the University of Science & Technology, Kumasi, . Groups of buildings were sited, and individual buildings were designed, to provide optimum climatic comfort in the warm humid tropics, retaining as much of the forest trees that covered the site before construction startedBuilding materials and construction systems were of the simplest, affordable and buildable during a period of severe economic recession in Ghana. Currently, the buildings are well maintained, and fit comfortable into the mature landscape, an oasis of peace and greenery in the surrounding sprawling outer suburbs of Kumasi. One wonders whether the Fondation St Joseph d'Arimathie on Lagoon Aby will stand the test of time so well.
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18/05/10 Iva, Sydney
Yes that is the way to go all generations & ages should be interact.
Society should not be placed on a production line & segregated.
Good comunites always are about sharing respect, knowledge, care,
nuturing the family system & values, so vital in a modern world to ensure
a better future for humanity. It is not old fashined to share a conversation
with the older generations & younger ones it is all normal. However in modern
society the genrational respect has eroder & thus the older generation & other
generations including the very young are all sorted into a pruoduction line
prevailing in a so called modern society where humanity & the family unit is
being silently pushed into an eqausion equal to resources & tools to be used
& exploited. Modern societies are Eroding the human spirit, materialising the human body & soul. Thus eroding the very esence of respect, trust among humanity, eroding values for the young & old. Constantly forcing sex & materialsim to every generation especially the young & inocent generations, that are exploited to the max via everyday media & mega corporations, saturating every area of life with their low morality & destructivness.
It is simply a modern society that enforces outlaw, anti-family, nomadic & colonial values. Hopefully architects & designers will help deliver truistic
human values that bring together genrations, families & nations, & deter
the outlaw, anti-family, anti-social & anti-humane elements in society.


sex & materialism driven generations where even the very voulnerable are
expolited by such modern society values.
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Editorial

HWKN's senior housing creates ties between all ages in the community 

A sad fact of housing developments for low-income elderly residents in the developing world is that so many have an institutional feel – of warehousing people. New York-based Hollwichkushner (HWKN) is changing that perception with the firm’s latest project, Aging in Africa.

Located in Lagoon Aby in Cote D’Ivoire, this new housing development aims to be the first age-valued community on the African continent where a group of seniors, previously without housing options, can maintain a meaningful and healthy lifestyle in a comfortable and safe environment.

Designed for client Foundation Saint Joseph d’Arimathie, the project is a retirement community for Catholic priests, who are excluded from the traditional, family-based model of elder care in Cote D’Ivoire. “Priest Raoul Mambo saw many of the elderly priests being homeless or living in very bad conditions in the Ivory Coast - this is why he initiated the project” said Matthias Hollwich, partner in HWKN.

The architecture is shaped by a holistic set of social, economic and environmentally sustainable theories pertaining to elder living and care. “It is about architecture that does not just house caring, it is architecture as the caring device” said Hollwich. “Our hope is that it is an inspiration for a new breed of community that values the efficacy of spirit over efficiency of care.”

Working with aging expert Emi Kiyota, the design team of Hollwich, Marc Kushner, Robert May, Marc Perrotta and KimByung Kyun, conducted focus groups, in-depth interviews and made observations to learn about the everyday lives of priests and their visions for the ideal living arrangements.

What was important to the priests was to stay connected to the community and the various generations in society, and HWKN’s design responds to that by embracing ‘social sustainability’, mixing public programs to maximise social contact between neighboring villages and the elderly priests.

The project, set on a sliver of land between the Atlantic and an inland lagoon, is organised like a typical Cote D’Ivoire village around a central spine that stretches from north to south from existing streets to capture the site’s prevailing winds. Perforations along the perimeter allow the natural vegetation to grow into the village and capitalise on the views of the water. Single-storey residential buildings, designs based on the simple construction techniques available, frame the village’s spine and submerge into nature at their back-ends to facilitate drainage and to blend the site’s edge with the environment. The project’s public buildings are centered on the village axis to reinforce their communal function. Based on simple geometries, the building shapes tilt and fold in relationship to each other, yet with an individual expression. The peaks of the church have a simple geometry that yields a distinct form that is at once a novel and familiar type of sacred space. “(The church) follows the Ivory Coast’s sixties building designs that are recognised as the golden years of the country, and which the population is aiming for again,” Hollwich said.

While not following the strict guidelines of a LEED or BREEAM scorecard, the development will be ‘extremely sustainable’, Hollwich said. The architects are looking into using geo bricks, a mud brick created at intense pressure that does not require wood burning like traditional bricks. No cement or sand is needed as the pressure used to create the bricks makes them so strong that walls do not need to be reinforced with cement, lime or sand. If the development is dismantled, the bricks will erode easily into the soil, unlike baked bricks or cement blocks. “We have natural ventilation, we will use of local materials for construction, and green roofs. We are in talks for a solar system for electricity”, he said.

The construction cost of the project is still to be determined but Hollwich said the estimate is about $1.5 million. The project calls for low-cost construction, volunteer participation as well as micro financing for local businesses to provide community services.

A symbolic setting of the first stone of the project is slated for August with construction anticipated to start in spring 2011 and completion of the residential phase by late 2012, Hollwich said.

What HWKN has proposed, while drawing on best practices in the developed world, should also serve as a reminder to other architects and caregivers of the value of design that creates a culturally appropriate residence for seniors to age in the community with grace and respect.

Jennifer Potash
News Editor

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