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  • Writer's pictureNigel Wakeham

A Home for the Jorejick Family in Tanzania

Architect in France
A Home for the Jorejick Family in Tanzania

A Home for the Jorejick Family in Tanzania

A few months ago, at the start of the lockdown here in France, I happened to see an architectural competition advertised on one of the digital architectural web-sites and decided to enter.

The competition was for the design of a ‘low-cost’ (I will come back to that) house for a family living in a rural area in the north of Tanzania near to Lake Manyara. Details of the competition can be seen at

The house was for 15 members of the same extended family with the following accommodation: a living room; a covered external living space; six bedrooms; an indoor kitchen for use in the rainy season and an outside kitchen to be used in the dry season; separate showers and toilets at some distance from the main living areas; a crop storage area and an enclosure for small animals.

My approach was to separate the various living areas into a number of buildings in order to simplify roof construction and to provide the maximum cross-ventilation in all living spaces; to orientate all buildings containing living spaces to face north-south in order to reduce solar gains and improve comfort and to provide large roof over-hangs for the same reason (these would also protect the walls and reduce maintenance). The bedrooms had open, covered access verandas so as not to restrict ventilation and buildings containing living spaces were connected by covered links.

My approach to the construction of the house was to use materials that were available locally and building techniques that were already well understood. The walls were therefore to be constructed of local bricks with mass concrete footings and concrete floors finished to a smooth, steel trowel finish. The walls were to be strengthened where necessary by brick piers. Roofs were to be of 28 gauge profiled steel roof sheets on timber purlins and rafters with local mats used as ceilings. Roofs over the open access verandas were to be supported on brick columns.

No reinforced concrete was to be used. Doors and shutters were of local timber, ledged and braced with double or triple top frames to support the brickwork above obviating the need for RC lintels.

The resulting design would therefore have been simple and economic to construct (my estimate for the cost was just under USD 18,000) and the large roof overhangs and plentiful through ventilation would have provided comfortable living conditions in all rooms.

There were apparently a large number of submissions (over 200 I think) and a lot of these, including my own, were not forwarded for appraisal by the judging jury, but were taken out of competition by the Archstorming team no doubt, in my case, as they thought the design too traditional and boring! I have to say that I am very unhappy about this as, having spent nearly two months on developing my design in detail and costing it, I think that it should have been up to the jury to decide which designs were to be short-listed and eventually judged, rather than the Archstorming team doing so and exercising their own prejudices and preconceptions. However, it just goes to show that one continues to live and learn even at my advanced age!

A note on the cost of the house. While the competition was advertised as being for the design of a ‘low-cost’ house, in the Tanzanian context, USD 20,000 cannot be seen as low-cost given the average annual salary of USD 6,500 for those in work and the fact that many if not most rural families do not earn a salary but are subsistence farmers.

The competition limited the submissions to two A1 sheets, a 400 word description of the design and a cost estimate. My designs were submitted on eight A3 sheets (which was agreed to by the Archstorming team) as I could not, while in lockdown, combine the sheets to form two A1 sheets. These are attached together with the description of the design and the costing. The 3D view of the house was drawn by my old friend Murray Denham (whom God preserve).


Architecture in Developing Countries: A Resource

The design and construction of appropriate, low-cost buildings for education and health in rural areas of the developing world.

Nigel Wakeham is an architect who lived for 23 years in Southern and West Africa and the SW Pacific working on education, health and other projects. He has since worked for over 20 years as a consultant for national governments and agencies such as the World Bank, DFID, ADB and AfDB on the implementation of the construction components of education and health projects in many countries in the developing world.​

​The objective of this website will be to provide the benefit of more than 45 years of experience of working in developing countries to architects and other construction professionals involved in the design and construction of appropriate, low-cost buildings for education and health. It will provide reference material from the projects that Nigel has worked on and technical information on the design, construction and maintenance of educational and health facilities and other relevant topics and these will be added to from time to time.

I am happy to be contacted by anyone requiring further information on any of the projects or resources referred to in this website or by anyone wishing to discuss work possibilities.


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