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  • Writer's pictureNigel Wakeham

Kishekat Village, Sugd Region, Tajikistan

Updated: Sep 18, 2023

Architect in France

Kishekat Village, Sugd Region, Tajikistan

I am recently back from another visit to Tajikistan where I was supervising the construction component of a health project which involves the construction of 37 health centres in remote rural villages.

One of the most remote villages is Kishekat in Devastich District in the Sugd Region in the north of the country. The village is about 60 kilometres from the district centre (which itself is not very large) and the access roads are unpaved and very rough. This together with the fact that the village receives large quantities of snow in winter (2 metres last winter) means that access is sometimes impossible.

The health centre is now in operation and has 2 doctors and 3 nurses and treats 150/200 patients a week either in the health centre or in their homes. I have commented on the design of the health centres in an earlier post and will not repeat my comments here but, given the poor roads and the remote location of the village the centre (and its very dedicated staff) is obviously a very important asset to the village.

Given the location of the village, the inhabitants have to be pretty self-sufficient but as well as vegetables and fruit for their own consumption, they grow large quantities of potatoes which are sent for sale all over the country. The typical village house is usually situated in a compound surrounded by a high wall and entered through a gate or a door and the compound will contain a vegetable garden and fruit trees as well as the house. The houses are usually single-storey with an attic that is used for storing food, fuel, hay, etc for the winter although some houses are raised off the ground with the area under the house also used for storage. The houses are usually long and only one room deep with a front veranda that gives access to the main living rooms and is usually enclosed by a brightly painted, glazed, wooden screen.

The traditional construction materials which are still in general use for building are timber from the birch trees that grow along the river valleys, stone gathered from the river and the fields and mud bricks (or rather dried balls of mud) that are laid in mud mortar and faced with a render of mud and straw. The photo gallery below gives some idea of the village and its surroundings.


Architect in France
A Traditional Devastich House

Returning from Kishekat in October last year, we passed a site where a carpenter was building a house for himself.

Although traditional in form, the house has a lower-ground floor constructed of mass concrete walls with a more traditional upper-ground floor constructed of timber framing with mud block infill and a timber roof structure covered with corrugated steel sheets. The house is ‘L-shaped’ with an entrance through the intersection of the two wings. The entrance opening is high to allow the passage of farm machinery and I presume that the site will eventually be surrounded by a high wall.

As in the traditional house model, the upper-ground floor contains the living and sleeping accommodation while the lower-ground floor and the roof space will be used for storage. The main living spaces will be accessed from a veranda which will be closed off with a glazed timber screen.

At the time of my first visit, the owner and an assistant were working on the first floor and roof timbers and all of the timbers that will be exposed are beautifully worked. At the time of my recent visit, the roof was finished and the house was awaiting the fixing of doors and windows, the completion of the internal and external plastering and the fixing of the timber screen to the access veranda. The house was however being lived in. The workmanship so far was exemplary, particularly the joinery and all horizontal surfaces were level and all vertical surfaces were plumb. I hope to see the house finished when I next visit. The photo galleries below show the house in October 2018 and May 2019.

October 2018

May 2019


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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