Tharani Associates design home with generous roof terrace
The requirement for passive climate control in the hot and humid weather of Dar es Salaam, the need for privacy, the provision of views of Msasani Bay and the green of the cemetery conditioned the design of the house. Perhaps the main imperative was to allow the free flow of breezes. Located on a small site of 500 sq m, it is an exploration of the possibilities of having an environmentally comfortable ‘middle class' house, where air conditioning would be minimised, on a plot size normally designated for low income families. It is also an engagement with the historical built forms of Tanzania in the contemporary context (such as the round buildings of the interior) and alludes to traditional urban architecture of the coast with its long windows and the use of mirunda (mangrove poles) as screens.
Protruding curves allow views of the front from the study and the bedroom at the rear and act as wind catchers; slots on the east face of the first floor allow breeze to pass and accentuate it at the same time (the Venturi effect), and the ground floor is sliced diagonally to face the prevailing breeze. The slots ensure privacy and tame the tropical light. The stepped cross section allows privacy and the penetration of the prevailing breeze into the main living space (and views of the private garden, which is formed by raising the first floor, from sitting level).
The bay is visible from the generous roof terrace - much used in the evenings - and the first floor whose facade turns to face the water. A lightweight ply roof that collects rainwater and hosts solar panels also mitigates the effect of solar gain together with the high ceilings. The staircase acts as a solar chimney, and the high level windows in the living space not only hold the thick yellow dusk light but also allow hot air to escape. Stone was used for the circulation areas but the flooring is mainly local timber which was also used for the doors, louvered windows, gate and screens. 6/8 cars can be parked in the front yard.