Sunday, April 30, 2006

Arch Design Uganda

They describe themselves as a group of developers, architects, contractors, suppliers, managers, economists that have integrated to form a team with the promise delivering greater architecture and engineering in Africa.

The Arch Design website says"....Fred Waix Waiswa together with two partners founded Arch Design five years ago. He brought with him a rich experience of design from the Petroleum Industry. He had worked for the petroleum giant Shell in several countries across the African continent.

His experience cuts across the continent, from Shell Uganda Ltd where he worked up to the level of Shell Projects Supervisor, responsible for Supervising Engineering for Shell projects, fuel stations, Office Building and depots right from the inception stage up to commissioning. He had also worked for the same company as a Retail Network Planner, in charge of retail marketing of Shell properties.

As a Design Engineer under the East African Shell Cluster, he worked on special Projects that included preparation of detailed designs and production drawings for, New To Industry (NTIs) modern retail outlets, Select stores (super markets), and motels, for Kenya Shell and B.P, Shell Mauritius and Shell Sudan. At Shell Rwanda sarl he worked on the Upgrade of storage fuel tank facilities, fire fighting facilities for the depot and the redesign and upgrade of the Shell Rwanda Head Office in Kigali.

At Shell Djibouti he took part in the Port Depot Seaport Fuel Terminal Upgrade as a lead Design Consultant, worked on new fuel pipelines at the Red Sea to the Terminal, fire Fighting facilities, Djibouti fuel Port Terminal and Drainage system and remodelling of Shell Djibouti Head Offices.

As an Architect/Partner at Arch Design, Kampala-Uganda, he has handled fuel depots for Jovenna Uganda Limited, Galana Oil Uganda Limited (Now Kobil Uganda Ltd.) and Head Office Building for Petro Uganda Limited. He was in charge of refurbishment of fuel Stations around Uganda and preparation of detailed Designs of Petro Uganda's ultra-modern services station with a supermarkets.

He has worked on various Commercial, Institutional and Residential buildings which include upgrade of Mweya Safari lodge to a 5 Star Hotel, Wakiso District Administrative Building & Council Hall, Mbarara District, Administrative Building & Council Hall, Soroti District Administrative Building & Council Hall, Mbarara District Local Government Administration. Soroti District Local Government Administration, Kiboga District Local Government Administration and Library for Ntale School.

He is a Corporate Member of Uganda Society of Architects (USA) and a Registered Architect with the Uganda Architects Registration Board (ARB)...."

Photos courtesy of Arch Design

Friday, April 14, 2006

13 Principles of Sustainable Architecture

Kelly Hart of Green Home Building writes that "...As “consumers” we are frequently confronted with life style decisions that can impact our environment. There are a few choices in this life that can make a big difference in what the quality of life will be for those who follow us. Going with the flow of our culture is hard to avoid, and unfortunately the flow is not in the right direction for evolving a sustainable future.

uuOne of the most momentous choices that any of us will make is the kind of house we live in. I have come up with a list of thirteen principles of sustainable architecture that can guide you in your housing choices.

Small is beautiful. The trend lately has been toward huge mansion-style houses. While these might fit the egos of those who purchase them, they don't fit with a sustainable life style. Large houses generally use a tremendous amount of energy to heat and cool. This energy usually comes from the combustion of fossil fuels, depleting these resources and emitting greenhouse gases and pollutants into the air. Also, the larger the house, the more materials go into its construction; materials which may have their own environmental consequences. A home should be just the right size for its occupants and their activities. My wife and I (and our two dogs) have happily lived in a forty foot bus for the last four years. The key to this is efficient use of space, good organization, and keeping possessions to a manageable level. We do look forward to spreading out some in the passive solar, earthbag home we are building.

Heat with the sun. Nothing can be more comfortable for body and mind than living in a good solar-heated house. I say “good”, because proper design is crucial to the comfort of such a house. You may have gone into a solar house and felt stifled by the glaring heat, or perhaps you shivered from the lack of it. Good passive solar design will provide just enough sunlight into the rooms to be absorbed by the surrounding thermal mass (usually masonry materials), so that the heat will be given back into the room when the sun goes down. The thermal mass is a kind of “heat battery” that stores the warmth, absorbing it to keep the room from getting too hot during the day. Equally important to thermal mass is insulation (such as straw bales or crushed volcanic rock) that will keep that heat inside. Thermal mass materials need to be insulated from the outside, or else they will just bleed that warmth right back out. A rock house might have tons of mass, but be uncomfortably cold because of this energy bleed. So a good solar design will utilize materials of the right type in the right places, blending thermal dynamics with utilitarian design. There is much more to be said about solar design, and there are many good books on the topic.

Keep your cool. As I suggested above, a well designed solar house is both warm when you want it, and cool when you want it; that is to say, the temperature tends to stay fairly even. A good way to keep your cool is to dig into the earth. If you dig about six feet into the earth, you will find that the temperature there varies by only a few degrees year round. While this temperature (about 50-55 degrees F.) might be too cool for general living comfort, you can use the stability of the earth's temperature to moderate the thermal fluctuations of the house. If you dig into a south-facing hillside to build, or berm the north part of the house with soil, you can take advantage of this. The part of the house that is under ground needs to be well insulated, or the earth will continually suck warmth out of the house..."

Diagram courtesy of Recycle Works Organisation

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Reducing reliance on utility supplied water

When I was younger I noticed my grandparents in the village got all their fresh water from a massive underground rainwater collection tank that was constructed on their premises. Back then I was amazed on how full this tank was most of the time, which could be atributed to the sheer volume of rain that fell in that region of Nigeria in the rainy season.

Timbuktu Chronicles has previously covered this topic highlighting the benefits of such a system. Also there is also evidence that shows that we waste water less when we are involved in the process of collecting and storing it atimes.

People might wonder if a borehole is not capable of satisfying all there water needs? Well it could, depending on the quality of the aquifers around where the borehole is located (for Lagos it apparently it has to be more than 250m deep so it can hit the Abeokuta formation), the depth of the bore hole, and the frequency of usage. There have also been a lot of cases especially in Lagos and Port Harcourt, Nigeria were some of the boreholes have been contaminated by seawater or crude oil.

How can we harvest more rainwater in out cities to serve our drinking water needs and how can we recycle used bathing and washing water(reuse water) to flush our toilets?

In Hong Kong they have a system is some areas that uses strained sea water to flush toilets and urinals. Maybe the municipal authorities of the costal cities in Africa could adopt such a system. I don't see the point in spending so much money to purify water only to have it used in flushing the toilet, what do you think?

Monday, April 03, 2006

African deserts a potential clean energy goldmine?

The technology of solar chimneys harnesses the power of solar radiation and thermal currents to generate Environmentally clean electricity.

The company pioneering this technology is Enviromission an Australian solar power company working together with a German Structural consulting engineer company called Schlaich Bergermann und Partner.

The Schlaich Bergermann und Partner website also says "...With solar chimneys the greatest problems of our times,the environmental exploitation and the poverty and population explosion in the Third World, could be solved immediately and peacefully. We have designed the solar chimney such that it can be built indigenous in countries with ample solar radiation. So it is effective in a double way with electricity and work instead of oil and coal. Besides investigating the solar chimney's principle and its thermodynamics we have optimized the construction methods for the glass roof and the high chimney as well as the appropriate turbines and generators – in collaboration with the worldwide best experts.."

Maybe African venture capitalists, investors and property developers could look at converting the Sahara and Kalahari deserts into vast solar energy farms and ecofriendly new cities.