Innovative architecture to enhance health and wellbeing: The healthy homes project
In sub-Saharan Africa, many infectious diseases, including malaria, are acquired in and around the home. In these resource-poor settings there is a need for architectural modifications to minimize contact between disease vectors and humans, especially during the hot and humid seasons. Prevalent low-cost African houses tend to have mud or brick walls with few, if any, windows. Floors are rarely raised, as the typical construction materials employed are too heavy for elevation. Airflow in such houses is minimal. Cooking is often done indoors and produces smoke that is believed to repel mosquitoes and reduce malaria, but there is no evidence to support this. Instead, indoor smoke increases human discomfort and enhances the risk of respiratory infections. When used properly, insecticide-treated bednets are highly protective against malaria. But airflow inside a bednet hung within a poorly ventilated house is reduced even further.
Discomfort is the single most important reason why people in hot and humid countries fail to use their bednets. The aim of the healthy homes project is to construct innovatively-designed houses to be occupied by local residents in Magoda, Tanga region, Tanzania. These project houses will integrate Asian architectural features (to optimise airflow) with traditional African building methods. The project has the following specific objectives:
- To explore community perspectives on house structure and indoor insect control which will inform the design and construction of the study houses
- To evaluate the indoor climate resulting from different house designs, modifications and building materials towards the development of a robust, low-cost house design suitable for the tropical African setting
- To estimate the economic cost of various house modifications and designs using different local material
- To assess the use of and comfort inside bednets in study houses compared with traditional house
- To develop locally appropriate structures for water supply, sanitation and cooking facilities
- To engage local community leaders and important stakeholders like policy makers and NGO’s to increase acceptance of the new designs towards improved uptake and dissemination.
▲Bedrooms, from top: 1|Shade-net cladding 2|bamboo cladding 3|Timber louvers
▲Prototype with Shade-net facade at night time.
▲ Single Storey: 1|plan, 2| longitudinal section
▲ Double Storey: 1|plan, bedrooms 1st floor 2|Longitudinal section
- Jakob Knudsen. Architect. Associate Professor, Royal Danish Academy of Fine arts, Schools of Architecture, Design & Conservation, Copenhagen, Denmark. Principal and owner of Ingvartsen Architects, Copenhagen, Denmark
- William N. Kisinza, PhD, Director & Principal Research Scientist, The National Institute for Medical Research, Amani Research Centre, Tanga, Tanzania
- Salum Mshamu, Africa Academy for Public Health (AAPH), Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
- Kiondo Mgumi, The National Institute for Medical Research, Amani Research Centre, Tanga, Tanzania
- Lorenz von Seidlein,Mahidol Oxford Research Unit, Bangkok, Thailand
- Konstantin Ikonomidis. Architect. Assistant researcher. Ingvartsen Architects, Copenhagen, Denmark
- Emi Bryan. Architect student. Assistant researcher. Ingvartsen Architects, Copenhagen, Denmark