SR article

Maaisai Integrated Shelter Project

A New Type Of Shelter

In the Kajiado district in Kenya are shelters build for the Maasai women. The Maaisai of Kenya are one of the most well-known indigenous tribes of East-Africa. The Maasai is special, because they never have abandoned their nomadic lifestyle and they settled into clans and subtribes instead. Unlike other tribes Maaisai women have a prominent place in the culture and they are in charge of housing construction and maintenance.

The old type of housing didn’t suit the big population anymore and the houses were too low to stand in, so they were very inconvenient. The main concerns for the new houses were the need for natural lighting and ventilation (like our pavilion project), since their old houses didn’t had windows and only one door opening.

Besides that they wanted to pay less attention and time to the maintenance, so that they could use their time to other things and become more successful in life. In a trial and error process they brought three ideas together to one, namely the use of ferrocement to create more permanent and waterproof roof, walls and water collection jars. The jars where another advantage, because they could collect rain and therefore they didn’t need to travel long distances to get water.

Since the project began more than 2400 houses are realised and the region has seen a significant drop of respiratory disease, malaria and other illnesses. Whereas maintaining their homes and collecting water had once be taxing and time-consuming activities, the women no have time to spend on other time-consuming activities and

We can learn from this project that creating a simple solution for daily problems can generate a big difference. In our pavilion there is also a system to collect water, so that the local people don’t need to coverage long distances to get water. A footnote is that the current houses in Okana are made of corrugated sheets of metal. So the houses are better in things like ventilation and height (in comparison to the Maaisai buildings), but they are bad for the environment and they aren’t long lasting. They also don’t have a system for catching water.


Information is found in the book: Design Like You Give a Damn - Architectural Responses To Humanitarian UsedGood