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Sustainable Housing Development

Jirapa, Ghana
Summer 2010

The objective of this project was to build an environmentally
and economically sustainable structure that met modern
aesthetic and living standards . Cheap, locally available mate-
rials with minimal environmental impact were employed
throughout the construction.

Wood was replaced with bamboo, which grows quickly in
southern Ghana using minimal land and water. The bamboo
framework supports the roof of the structure, and is con-
cealed with a curtain wall of mud bricks. These bricks
were molded by hand and allowed to cure in the sun. This
construction material consists of nothing more than dirt and
water, an environmentally sound alternative to concrete.

Passive cooling is an inherent part of the design. The goal
was to eliminate the need for air conditioning, thereby
reducing energy consumption. The high set windows at
the top of the pitch produce convective currents, driving
ventilation by allowing hot air to escape at the top of the
structure while cool air is drawn from the back of the
house and the veranda.

The double layered roof comprises a layer of zinc, to keep
out the rain, covered with a layer of bamboo shingles to
reduce solar heat transfer. The small solar chimney also
participates in the natural ventilation of the house.

The large south facing veranda provides a shaded
outdoor area and cool air. The thick mud walls
dehumidify the air while providing thermal insulation.