Merging both architecture and landscape into its designs, the Staff Residence for Village Health Works, in Kigutu, Burundi, is a romance between east African elemental aesthetics and inventive off-the grid sustainability. Cutting a skewed line in the terrain, the 6,000 sq ft residence - facilitating a total number of twenty beds - is sited to capture the breathtaking mountain views that the surrounding area affords. It will be the first in a series of new buildings to be built according to the new ‘master plan’, created by Louise Braverman, Architect.
To encourage Kigutu’s outdoor community to openly embrace the new designs, oversized porch doors will seamlessly connect the inside and out, welcoming all into a series of public spaces. Similarly, the ten private sleeping rooms - each with its own personal entry porch - echo this semi-permeable sensibility. The porosity of the porches will encourage sociability, enhance air flow into the adjacent sleeping rooms, and frame magnificent unobstructed transverse views of the landscape beyond.
The same elemental design moves that establish its aesthetics will also advance its sustainability. Since Kigutu is 100% off the municipal grid, the residence will be exclusively powered by a solar farm. The building will literally grow out of the landscape. Sited partially below grade, and in alignment with the contours of the earth, the location of the building will both reduce excavation costs and take advantage of the earth’s natural insulation for temperature control.
Eliminating the need for energy-intensive air conditioning, the personal porches will create three sided natural ventilation within the sleeping rooms. The extended roof overhangs will also optimize the use of natural daylight, while cisterns will capture rainwater for irrigation. Yet the greatest efficiency will be the human efficiency, for the members of the community, using local bricks and stone, will manually build the residence, negating the need for fuel consuming machines, and creating transferable job training skills for the community.