Five Weeks In Africa
How to be an architect in a foreign culture?
Bergen Scool of Architecture - Mastercourse Autumn 2009
Table of contents Introduction
Letter from Irmã Catarina
A glance from the outside 9
Press Release 11
Task 1: Representation 12
Task 2> Information gathering 13
BAS Master Mozambique travel plan 2009 14
The Journey 17
Norway - South Africa 18
Chibuto - Chimundo 24
Irmã Catarina 26
Knowing Chimundo 29
Bairro Chimundo 30
Registration-map (zone 1) 32
Typology & materials 34
Material price-list 35
Irmã Catharina´s plot 36
Analysis of site 38
Masterplan and footprint 40
Sketching the footprint 41
Premises and concept-building 42
The building 45
Concept and program 46
The closed room 47
Foot print and foundation 48
The sand walls 49
The bottle light wall 50
The open room 52
The floor 53
The doors 54
The poles 55
The roof 56
The roof and the climate 57
The construction 58
by Bror Ragnar Hansen, Architect.
Coordinator and assistant teacher for the study and research trip to South Africa and Mozambique.
Bergen School of Architecture - BAS Master Mozambique September 2009.
As part of its Masters degree curriculum, Bergen School of Architecture BAS includes a The objective
comprehensive program for sustainable development, focusing on landscape and climate The objective of “being an architect in a foreign culture” was to register, learn and
forming a basis for architecture. Sustainability has been introduced as a central element reflect upon the cultural, political and social patterns in which the students were met
in all teaching, and the aim is to make it a key component in all professional discussions, with during the trip. In Chimundo, the registrations and analysis made by the students
research and development as well as in its student projects. were to become the basis and backgound of how to approach a masterplan for the site
of Irma Catarina.
This resulted in a building designed for academic proposes, that hopefully can provide
Being an architect in a foreign culture economical support to the community in order to build future living quarters for
A 4-6 week field study to countries with different cultures than that of our own, is of the orphan children, among other functions.
utmost importance in understanding “the greater picture”. The destinations, topics and When arriving back in Bergen, the task was to work further with the site of Irma
duration vary from year to year. On September 13th, 19 architect students from BAS Catarina, designing a set of small buildings linked together with a social character.
travelled on a 5-week study and research trip to South Africa and Mozambique.
Preparations International staff
This trip was planned from april 2009. Establishing contacts in South Africa and The Portuguese architect André Fontes led the first two weeks. His teaching methods
Mozambique, coordinating the different elements for such an adventure, takes time! Prior prepared the students for the tasks. The following topics were introduced:
to leaving for Africa the students also had a two-week preparation period in Bergen. Visas
to apply, vaccinations to take, tickets to ride. A workshop and a string of lectures were held. 1. Preparing the eyes “to see”: Expression, process, materials, architecture/
All this, in order to make the trip as good and streamlined as possibly. structure, composition and
The world of art 2. Process developing: The concept, The idea, context, impact, personality,
As part of our toolbox in becoming functional and good architects we make use of the world atmospheres, processes and materials.
of art. All our courses have this element of approach, what we define as DAV (¨Den André
Verda¨ - ¨The Other World¨). We believe that by investigating extensively in this sphere, 3. “To see” (the site plan) Landscape, urban systems, urban spaces, construction
the possibility to develop a free and personal expression is present¨. When in Mozambique processes, material expression,
we invited a local artist Berry Bickle, a Zimbabwean living in Maputo, to do a workshop with and the student’s own observations.
4. Project Developing: Drafting and creating the tools to synchronize technical
Main focus drawings, process, perspectives and
Our main focus of the study-trip was the emerging project of sister Catarina. A catholic models. 1:1 sketching.
nun in the rural setting of Chimundo, outside the town of Chibuto, which is situated
approximately 80 km north west of Xai Xai - Mozambique. A small Portuguese NGO,
Aidglobal, was linked to the sister.
Responding The way forward.
It was not an initial intention to physically realize the students masterplan proposals, but rather On October 19th the students returned to Bergen to continue work on their ideas for a
to use the results as part of an application for future funding. However, the need to improve the final presentation in late January 2010. There is no doubt that their design results will
existing conditions were pending, so the students decided, in cooperation with Irmã Catarina on be innovative with beautiful practical ideas. These are to be communicated back to Irmã
the third week, to build a building designed for academic proposes that hopefully can provide Catarina and the NGO- AidGlobal. Some designs will be used as proposals for further
economical support to build future living quarters for orphan children, among other functions. development and funding.
The students took use of the tasks given by teacher André Fontes, simultaniously as the building
raised from the red soil. The Norwegian architect responsible for the 3 master courses at BAS this We have opened our eyes and minds to new realities. As well being mutually inspired
autumn, Sixten Rahlff, joined the students and the coordinator in the further decision-making and and touched by the local people and the different contexts we all live in. In doing so, this
building process for the last two weeks. year’s course naturally raises the following questions: Should BAS follow-up this project
next year? If so, on what premises? How can we improve the course? Can we include
What can we do as architects to improve the lives of children growing up in basic living other stakeholders?
Coordination We have an open invitation to return and continue this project. Mozambican artists,
An essential part of the coordinators duties as an architect, was to establish and maintain good architects and The Mozambican institute for Architecture and Design, should be natural
relations with the local people, representatives of the local government, architects, NGOs and partners in the future. The Ambassador and staff at the Royal Norwegian Embassy in
other authorities during the whole period. This included presentations on many levels such as the Maputo were very positive to our initiatives and further development of the project.
Mozambican institute for Architecture and Design at Universidade de Eduardo Mondlane (UEM),
and the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Maputo. Since living conditions throughout the three-week The issue of sustainability
period on the site in Chimundo, were basic for the participants, a high level of awareness on BAS will present the results so far, at the Copenhagen Climate ExChange exhibition
maintaining an acceptable health standard was crucial to the project. Despite this efforts, some in December 2009, in conjunction with the Climate Conference (COP15) in Denmark.
were having trouble, requiring medical attention and treatment. We raise the topic of sustainability and how the educational system is coping with
the realistic needs this world requires. Students will be presenting this project at the
“Our education is detached from reality” exhibition and interact with companies and organisations dealing with the issues of
This comment from Iwan, a 2.year Mozambican architect student after our project presentation sustainability in architecture and other related fields.
at UEM, was a great compliment to the BAS students. The Mozambican students and Dean of
the Mozambican institute for Architecture and Design in Maputo, were amazed of our teaching Through the devoted work of Irmã Catarina and her partners at this evolving community
methods and the results. The way we responded to a need and the way we created new spatial centre, the main beneficiaries of our brief intervention are the children of Chimundo.
structures combining local material with conventional building methods. Parallel to the students further design proposals, she is already planning a new bathroom
facilities for the children.
With mixed background and experiences, the students and teachers from BAS amounted a
very functional and cooperative building-team. Together with the local people, we managed to This Lady will never rest until her vision is fulfilled.
implement the trainee centre in only 12 days, despite a limited budget.
Did we: Bror Ragnar Hansen
reach our goals? - “Something better than nothing”?
What impact have we made as architects from a foreign culture - in a foreign culture? Architect and coordinator for the study and research trip to South Africa and Mozambique
Bergen School of Architecture - BAS Master Mozambique September 2009
initiated and facilitated positive sustainable development strategies? The project blog: www.basmozambique.wordpress.com
integrate the construction into it’s urban context?
become better architects by living and working 5 weeks in a culture different from ours?
meet their expectations?
A glance from the outside
Reflections from Norway
Our two weeks before leaving for South Africa and Mozambique were in retrospect a mozaic of
research and assignments to prepare us for what was to come.
The following pages are in short our introduction to this course and an introduction to this document.
Pictures of the site that were sent us by Aid Global
Dear all 1-4 sept BAS Master Mozambique student presentations:
Task 1: Representation and Task 2: Country
A weekplan for Bergen September and press release. information
Place: BAS 0900-1600
Bergen Architect School - BAS Master Mozambique September 2009 http://basmozambique. 7. sept BAS Lecture
wordpress.com/about-the-course/ Bror R. Hansen and Sixten Rahlff.
“Being an architect in a foreign culture - Working
13. September 2009 in a foreign environment”. Background and
19 architect students from Bergen Architect School (BAS) Bergen Norway, will travel together with experiences
3 teachers on a 5 week study and research trip to South Africa and Mozambique as part of a Master Place: store auditorium. Time: 0900-1200
8. sept BAS Lecture
Cecilie Andersson Architect and PhD Candidate at
Being an architect in a foreign culture NTNU.
Fieldwork and lessons learned China 06.
The main goal is to learn about another culture through practical approach as small planning or Place: store auditorium Time: 0900-1000
building projects. We seek to come in contact with local architects and students, city planners
and artists that can help us with such a contact and task. It is not a main goal that the students BAS Lecture
realize their proposal, but to be practical participants in collaboration between local people, local Benjamin Barth (architect student , BAS)
environment, local department, planners and other students. However the results can be used as “participation” - participatory research- lessons
part of an application for future funding. learned from workshop with Architecture Sans
Frontiers in Brasil spring
Our main focus of the study-trip is an orphanage in the rural setting of Chimundo, a small place Place: store auditorium Time: 1000-1100
near the town of Xai Xai -Mozambique. Aid Global and Program Manager Filipe Galvão. Living
conditions will be basic for the students. BAS Lecture and Workshop
Paal Wendelboo presents his world famous
In Maputo we will cooperate with Universidade Eduardo Mondlane (UEM) - Faculty of Architecture invention, the energy saving oven “Peko Pe”.
and Physical Planning, Jose Forjaz Architects and hopefully the artist Berry Bickle and the He is there between 1200 og 1600.
Photographer Mauro Pinto. The students will be construction ovens this day.
which hopefully will result in serving a hot meal.
On October 18th they will return to Bergen and continue to work on their proposals for a final http://www.pekope.net/
presentation January 2010. Place: store auditorium: Time: 1200 and working
hall from 1400-1600.
The objective is to design a set of small buildings linked together with a social character. Therefore
a building will be designed for academic proposes and the other for living quarters for children. This 9. sept BAS Lecture
group of buildings also provides the design of an aviary that will financially support the community Bjørn Enge Bertelsen PhD Candidate, Department of
for humanitarian purposes. Social Anthropology
University of Bergen, on the topic : “Mozambique”
Place: store auditorium Time: 1000-1200
Task 1: Representation Describe yourself. Be personal, clear and to the point.
Once upon a time there were some kids. They were down at the pier. Then came a man-eating shark and said,
“it´s my birthday today and I need a girl. A curly girl”. He bit one curly girl, softly. Then her dad came…and
pulled her and then she got up. But then the shark started to cry and said ” I jussst wanted tooo inviiiite her
tooo my biiirthdayyyy”. And then the curly girl was allowed to go.
“The Shark” , Olafia Zoega.
“Growing up“, Anette Basso
Silje Klepsvik, (every drawing represents a horizon from a memory of places Silje has lived)
Task 2: Information gathering Choose a theme from one of the following topics; Mozambique, South Africa or Africa.
Energy potential attracts Italian companies
A joint team of Mozambicans work integrating Mozambican and Italian
frameworks to be created within days to discuss the development of a
comprehensive program of cooperation within the energy domain. Italy
is interested in implementing various projects in the area of renewable
energy generation in Mozambique; bio-fuels, photovoltaic systems, wind
and water being those that arouse more attention.
Manica expects to export 700 tons of bananas to Europe
Chimoio (canalmoz) - The province of Manica can export this year,
about 700 tons of bananas to the European continent. With the intro-
duction of new farming techniques, which consist of production based
on the homogeneous culture, which is also known for production using
patern culture, introduced last year, banana production has increased
Two articles from Mozambican daily news. Birgitte Haug
Artikkel from : www.norway.org.mz/devcoop/energy/probec.htm, Anette Basso. 13
BAS Master Mozambique travel plan 2009
01 sep School starts Lectures, selfpresentations and workshops
12 sep Final preparations before departure
13 sep Travel Bergen – Johannesburg
14 sep Arrival in Johannesburg
15 sep Johannesburg (afternoon) – Nelspruit (Krugerpark safari)
16 sep Nelspruit cross border to Maputo
16 – 20 sep Maputo
17 sep Royal Norweg
18 sep UEM
gian Embassy: Reception at ambassador Øyslebøs recidence.
M Department for Architecture and Physical Planning
r in Maputo Modernist architecture. With architect-students from Argentina and South Africa.
9-20 sep DAV Maputo. Artist Berry Bickle.
21 sep Maputo - Chimundo
21 sep - 14 oct Chimundo (with AidGlobal) 3 weeks
14 oct Chimundo - Xai Xai - Maputo
15 -16 oct Maputo
Presentations of preliminary research, DAV
Place: A suitable facility with public access
17 oct Maputo - Johannesburg
18 oct Johannesburg - Bergen
20 oct Bergen and BAS
Work with design project and cross project courses.
Presentation in mid January
Norway - South Africa 5 AM, Bergen Airport Flesland. Nineteen architect students and one teacher stare with tired eyes at the information board. One hour
until we fly on to Amsterdam and then off to Johannesburg, South Africa. Packs filled with anti-bacterial gel, sunscreen, malaria
tablets and Lonely Planet Mosambique books. Not to forget the gifts for the kids. What lies before us is a little unclear and at the
same time seems so amazing. 5 weeks of Africa. It´s a lifetime. It´s the 13th of september, the trees are still green... when we come
back it will be winter and only two months to christmas!
S-Africa- 49 mill. inhabitants
A twelve hour flight with one stop in Amsterdam brings us to Johannesburg airport, the biggest and busiest airport in Africa.
Travelling so fast between places is always a bit unrealistic and we do not feel we´re really in Africa quite yet despite of a little
Capital- Johannesburg/Joburg incident at the airport where a man starts to organize us and our baggage into the cars that the hotel sent us. And of course he wants
to get paid for it and makes a big fuzz... In the end we pay him and head to Game Lodge Hotel, our first stay. Entering our rooms,
we find a little spider in the sheets, a bigger one in a sink. We have hammocks, ducklings, ostriches. Full breakfast is included. Not
exactly what we imagined.
Joburg- 10 mill. inhabitants
South Africa is on the southern tip of Africa and has around 49 million inhabitants. Johannesburg or “Joburg“ has about 4 million
inhabitants and the greater Joburg area over 10 million which makes the city one of the 40 largest in the world. We hear it´s a very
Apartheid- 1949-1994. Blacks and dangerous town...“don´t go downtown...don´t do this...don´t do that“.... We do all of it. We travel around Joburg in taxis and chapas
Whites segrigated. like we´ve never done anything else. We don´t feel the danger, we only hear about it. We go downtown to shop and look around and
we go to the market. No one is robbed, or raped or beaten. One of us forgets an expensive camera in one of the taxis. Rings panicked
to the taxi driver who comes back in an instance with the camera... Is this the dangerous town everybody has been talking about? We
see the gated houses with big protective walls and barb wire. Huge dogs by every house. There aren´t so many people in the streets.
Soweto- A black neighbourhood
Are we just being simple? Later that night we hear on the news that a car like our taxi is hijacked by bandits that same day and a
seperated from the city under shootout between the bandits and the police leave the bandits wounded or dead. This happens on the road to town. Same road we
apartheid. have been travelling back and forth that very day.
About 10% of South Africans are white and we see many whites in Joburg and South Africa. We get to experience different areas of the city. Melville, Sancton city, Soweto, downtown. We
ask around and everyone says Sancton city is the place to be. We hop into a taxi and off we go. We arrive at a huge shopping mall at Nelson Mandela Square. Huge statue of Mandela with a
quite small head. We look around for a short while and then return to the hotel. It´s a difficult city to travel around in and it helps to have a guide. A guide brings us to Soweto. Soweto was
a separate city from the late 1970s until the 1990s. Originally an acronym for “SOuth-WEstern TOwnships”, Soweto originated as a collection of settlements on the outskirts of Johannesburg
populated mostly by native African workers in the gold mining industry. The Apartheid regime (1949-1994) separated Soweto from Johannesburg and made it a completely black Area. Apartheid
was abolished in 1994 when Nelson Mandela was made president after decades of emprisonment.
We leave Joburg after two nights, and head to Kruger Park. 19.000 km2 of game reserve. The biggest in South-Africa. There we stay over-night and get up at the break of dawn to experience
the wildlife. It´s amazing. An angry elephant, a jogging hyena on the road, chubby zebras, a mother leopard with two cubs, astonished architect students. We see four out of the big five and
with cameras full we head to Mozambique. Let the adventure begin.
Mozambique We have no problems with crossing from S-Africa to Mozambique. We show our passports and walk right over. We see the difference
right away. Now we are almost the only white people and we stick out like a sore thumb. It is clear that South Africa is much more
westernized. Here we don´t see Kentucky Fried Chicken and McDonalds, and people are more friendly. They seem curious about
this bus stuffed with white students with camera lenses in stead of eyes. We are thrilled. Most of us haven´t been here before and
everything is new and exciting. When we pass through the landscape from the border towards Maputo we see the flatness with some
The 7th poorest countries in the world trees and hills in the far. There were people walking by the road, especially women, carrying water or baggage on their head and
often with a baby on the back, tucked in a capulana-cloth. There were salestands as well, colourful, some were empty and some full
with activity. When we approach the capital, the housing becomes denser and more and more people and movement. The houses
800 000 km2 in size stand closer and closer together and the traffic increases. There is a big difference between the rural and the urban Mozambique.
The more rural parts we travelled through can be caracterized by scattered housing and few people, with the landscape being
relatively flat, especially along the coastal stretch of the southernmost part of the country. This was also the only part we got to
experience on our trip. The urban enviroment seemed to be strongly coloured by the Portugese colonial times, with influence of
23 mill. inhabitants Arab, Indian, and Chinese cultures, but with an African feel. This country was so different from South Africa, were we had been
constantly warned about crime and safety cautions. The overall feel of Mozambique was that we were safe and welcomed. We got
warned about the local police though, who is said to be corrupt, and fines you for not having your passport to identify you (which
Capital - Maputo they are not allowed to by law).
Mozambique is in southeastern Africa and is bordered by the Indian Ocean to the east, Tanzania to the north, Malawi and Zambia to
the northwest, Zimbabwe to the west and Swaziland and South Africa to the southwest. It got independent from Portugal in 1975
after being made a Portugese colony in 1505. It´s a very poor country that also has suffered a civil war from 1977-1992, just after
A Portugese colony till 1975 the independence from Portuguese rule. The country has not yet managed to get back on it´s feet. Mozambique has amongst the
lowest life expectancies on earth, and the economy is still in ruins.
We got to experience the local politics in several different situations. The elections were coming up and there was full campaign
Democratic government - Frelimo the
going on. Mozambique has two main parties, anti-Communist RENAMO and the Marxist FRELIMO. These were the ones who fought with each other during the
civil war, and they are still the two main parties and share the votes almost equal. Frelimo has the biggest share of the votes though, and we mostly saw Frelimo
campaigners, posters and speakers where we travelled.
The Chibuto district, where we spent most of our time, is one of the few 100% Frelimo areas. The president, Guebuza, visited Chibuto and Chimundo during our
stay there, to hold a campaign rally for the up-coming elections. This was a huge fiest where many of the locals attended as well as many of us. We heard news that
a Renamo campaigner that came to the city of Chibuto was brutally beaten by Frelimo supporters at the same time as we stayed there.
Travelling around in the country was fairly easy for us. We hired “chapas” (local minibuses) or larger buses to take us where we needed and we were often stopped
by the police that took one look into the car, saw the pale faces, and sent us off again. The main roads were good and it didn´t take long to cruise from one place
to the other. We mainly stayed inland but the capital is situated by the sea as well as we went to Xai Xai and stayed by the beach for a weekend. The place was
magical, abandoned hotels and restaurants by a white vacant beach. A decaying facade of the old colonial times like all over Mozambique.
Maputo We arrived the capital city of Mozambique with the first task in mind: what is your first impression of Maputo?
What was our first impression of the capital Maputo?
Maputo was our first encounter with the urban Mozambique. The town, dominated by the Portuguese colonial times, revealed itself to
Maputo- Capital of Mozambique us as a vibrant and architecturally beautiful city. We were overwhelmed by it’s beauty, especially after looking at Mozambiques open
and rural landscape from the back seat of a warm minibus, or a “Chapa” since early morning.
1,3 million inhabitants It was afternoon, and near sunset, but the city was still in full activity; large groups of uniformed children walking home from school,
sellers with a full range of used shoes and clothes still sat on the street and negotiated, a lot of people were just hanging around and
unlike in South Africa, we saw no white people here. The street was full of life, and during our stay in Maputo, we learned that this
was how the city functioned: the pavement, being almost as wide as the street itself, was the meeting place, the market, and “the
Port City with harbour based economy social centre”. It was here that merchants put out blankets with souvenirs, bags and Africa-knick-knacks for tourists. It was here we
bought oranges and nuts, was followed by eager sellers for half an hour, and it was here flower-sellers sat down on a chair right on
the sidewalk with a bucket of flowers that they sold for about five kroner a piece. The more organized had booths that looked like
containers where you could buy everything from groceries to beer and soft drinks that you had to drink right on the spot so they
Grid structure with modernistic could get the bottle back when you were finished; the mortage was precious. “This looke a bit more like Africa” someone stated as
portugeese architecture we drove into Maputo this warm afternoon.
Maputo as a city is easy to understand and get around, because of the grid structure. We did not get lost here, and from the main-
street you could always spot the sea.
Decaying pavements and housing
During our stay in Maputo, the local architect school became our meeting place. Here we met visiting architect-students from both South Africa and Argentina, we met with the local students
who also held a barbecue-party for us on our last day before departure, and we met the artist Berry Brickle, who had worked a lot with memories and public places in her own work. Brickle
wanted us to see the street with new eyes; what can the street and the pavement evoke of memories and associations? Why do you make this association? What are you thinking when you
are in exactly this place? The streets and sidewalks in Maputo were decaying. There were cracks and holes in the asphalt, and some places the sidewalk just solved up into sand and gravel.
Because of economical issues in the municipality, the decay is growing. This can also be seen in the amount of old, beautiful buildings decaying. In a couple of hours we walked up and down
the street outside the architect school, and we solved the problem in various ways; Some took a direct look on how and what the street and sidewalk evoked of memories, while one group
took hold of the little things it takes to make the street look better and work better; this group of Norwegian students took some mozambiquan students and collected small rocks that they
put around a tree where the asphalt was torn away.
After five days in the urban Mozambique, we were ready to set off to the more rural parts: Chimundo.
Chibuto-Chimundo From Maputo we drive toward our final stop Chimundo, a small village a few miles outside the town Chibuto. Our excitement rises
synchronously with the temperature, what will we find in Chimundo? Who will we meet? Will we have to dig our own toilet? Will
we get to shower during these three weeks? Can we buy food? We arrive late in the afternoon, after a whole day of driving. The
road in the village is a path of red sand. We pass straw huts, people waving to us, and finally an ally surrounded by stonehouses,
before we roll into the yard of the orphanage-home of Irmã Catarina, our final stop. A group of curious, young kids surrounds the
Chibuto- Principal city of the Chibuto car. They´re grabbing our hands, some wants to be lifted up. In the shade of a tree an old lady is cooking, under another three
district. a woman is sleeping. The children are running around and wants our attention. The oral communication is poor, but we can still
understand that they are both curious and excited to have us there.
The sun goes down early in Mozambique and our large, newly purchased tent must immediately be set up before dark, since at
the countryside, there is no light after sunset. We find a place under the big tree that we later will name the “mother tree”, and
Located in the Gaza district, Moz. we manage to put it up just in time. Over us the Southern Hemisphere’s starry front out-folds. Here, the moon is not “standing”,
but “lying”. The village is dark, the ground is sandy, above us lies the Milky Way - more clearly than we have ever seen it,
silhouettes in the dark greets us Buena Noite - good evening. We´re walking in the sand with our headlights on. This is the first
of many trips to what becomes our permanent place to eat; the local restaurant Casa Guevane. Chimundo as village has around
Chibuto district- 58 000 inhabitants three thousand inhabitants. Here you can find two restaurants, some sort of a cinema, a hair-dresser and a couple of kiosks - all
made of straw. Here is also a gathering place with a stage where some of us chose to go to see Mozambiques President Guebuza
be welcomed by the local people singing and dancing, in the run of the election campaign.
The next days we get to know the yard better, in the main house we take short, cold showers. Here is a also water toilet, which
Chimundo- a burrough of Chibuto with sometimes has water. In the mainhouse we are served lunch and breakfast in the cramped and dark hallway - peanut butter, rolls
4000 inhabitants and “percolated” instant coffee - we all wonder what “percolated” means. Outside the house is an outdoor kitchen, and inside - an
extremely warm kitchen with electricity.
We become familiar with the procedures; the small church’s calling to the worhsip-service Sundays at 7 am, The dark, small
stonebuilding that serves as classrooms for way too many children - the first children has normally arrived when we eat breakfast
at six am - here most people gets up at sunset at five am.
Our teacher Andrè Fontes wants us to understand the logic of the place; how it has evolved from the first building Irmã Catarina raised next to the large, shadowy “mother tree”, and how it
later has become a place with a main building, church building, a chicken-house in the shadow and the schoolbuilding as the first thing one meets while entering the courtyard. The outdoor
toilets are strawhuts with a hole in the ground, and the water tanks are located close to the main house to collect water from the roof. The water tanks are again related to the small water
crane standing in the middle of the yard - here the old ladies collects water for cooking, we use it to wash our hands and legs while working, and the children drink water straight from the
Although we drink water from bottles, for health’s sake, the water, like everything else - food, materials and tools, are collected from Chibuto. For many of us, this becomes the highlight of
the trip; to sit in the back the open truck of the old Toyota Stallion on the way into town. If we were passing people waving to us, it meant we had to stop and give them a lift. Knocking in
the side of the car meant they wanted to get off. To be stared at by the locals, as the only white people in the entire city other than Philipe in Aid Global, we were quickly used to.
During our stay we got familiar with the word Mulungo. Some of us thought it meant “hi”, and waved back and said “mulungo”. As everybody laughed, we were told it meant “whitie”, and it
soon became our favourite word on the whole trip - by both them and us - the mulungos.
Irmã Catarina On our arrival to the site we meet a strong grey haired woman surrounded by kids. Tired from travelling in a not very
spacious bus we are instantly overwhelmed by the happy faces of the children and the hospitality of Irmã Catarina. Offloading
the car goes quickly with the help of the children who are faster and stronger than we are.
The smaller children are studying us from the side, slowly approaching us with curiosity, and suddenly all of them are all over
A nun operating with charity work in us, eager to befriend us and learn our names.
As we get introduced to Irma Catarina and her work here in Chimundo, we also get introduced to the site and the children
The ones most eager to welcome us are the smaller children attending the small daytime school and older children who get to
Managing a kindergarden and a trainee stay around after their school is finished for the day. Irmã Catarina’s pupils are mostly children from poor homes, orphans or
center for adult education abused children. Her objective is to give them a place to stay during the daytime to minimize the risk of them being exploited
in different ways. The older children are welcomed to her plot to play around in safe surroundings and/or to help out with
different household tasks. Irmã Catarina’s dream is to build up workshop settings to teach the older kids different skills so
they can learn how to work for a living, and not get in trouble.
Started in Chimundo 2004 Irmã Catarina has many dreams that she is working her way towards fulfilling. Her little day care/school, her safe haven for
the older kids, and her English/computer training centre is part of a dream to make a educational unit and an orphanage on
Wants to build an orphanage on her plot
In 2004 the Chimundo story of Irmã Catarina started. Before that being stationed in Chibuto with
Irmá Franciscanas de nossa senhora das vitórias, a trip to Chimundo and seeing the situation for
children at daytime made her want to do something. She started under the biggest cashew-nut
tree on her plot by cooking small meals with her helper and soon built the first building on the plot.
Since then more houses have risen to meet the growing need around her affairs.
As our stay evolves into a week of discussions and analyses before deciding to nail a master plan
for the plot, our engagement to the situation lead us to want to build a small school building to
contain the trainee centre which future at this time was uncertain.
We got a clear go for our plans to build, and we kept the dialog going as to how. She was very
pleased to see the building moving forward.
During our working Irmã Catarina became as a beloving grandma to us. At 6 o’clock she prepared
our breakfast and around 12 our lunch was ready. Irmã Catarina, always afraid we would not eat
enough, cooked us enormous amount of food.
Our concern as to whether we were a burden to her she denied and said, “ This is nothing. I have
been responsible for 500 refugees before”.
Seeing all of us as the building continued she was very proud and as it was she took the shovel and
took part. She was very happy for the inspiration she told us we put out in the society. When girls
carrying a child, firewood or water or just slandering by she told them ”Look there is girls on the
roof, this could also be you!”
It was during hospital treatment in Portugal in she got in contact with the organization Aid Global,
searching for funding for her project. She got them interested.
To develop Irmã Catarina’s project in Chimundo they wanted to search for people and put out an
advert in a newspaper in Portugal. Architect Andre Fontes happened to see the advert and thought
it to be an appropriate project for us students at Bergen school of Architecture to be involved in.
Getting to know the people, the place and the environment
Zone 1 c
- typical local building composition
- one plot per ‘extended’ family, 40x35
- composition of several small houses
- mostly bamboo-houses
- orientation towards an inner courtyard
and the street
- outdoor space of great importance
- vegetation used for defining space;
creating shadow, shelter, borders and
-outdoor toilets placed in the back
- result of aid-financed recovery
flood in 2000 - Sant Egidio (Italy)
- 2 families per plot, 40x35
- one house per family
- 4 houses share coomon bathroom
- orientation towards street
- little definition of borders
- expanded (newer) area
- 1 family per plot 60x35
- higher priceclass
- brickhouses, often 2 floors, no
- placement in the middle of the plot
- tall brick-fences
Irmã Catharina’s plot
- given a plot equal to the size of a
standard bloc; 140x80
zone 1 zone 2
32 Zones in Chimundo
1 : 10 000
sa b. chimundo
Registration-map (zone 1)
Many small houses oriented towards an inner courtyard.
zone 1 zone 2
Zones in Chimundo
1 : 10 000 35
Typology & materials
Hut with circular plan and strawcovered roof House with rectangular plan, timber frame construction covered Tin roof is transacting heat quickly and the timber
with straw walls and tin roof. poles are in direct contact with the soil, risking
vegetation as tree as shelter traditional square bamboo house same bamboo further extention
barrier round bamboo house with corregated house with -typical shape of
bamboo house iron roof extention brick house
The costs of materials.
MATERIAL Price (MT)
Wood and straw:
caniso (bamboo) 35
esteira (straw mat) 30
estacas (pole) 50/60
38x38x5400 mm 176
38x114x5400 mm 399
50x76x6600 mm 554
360x65 cm corrugated iron 300
200x150 cm sheet 1600
ferro (reinforcement bars):
6mm x 600cm 33
8mm x 600cm 54
10mm x 600cm 120
6x2,4 m rebar grid 1600
Concrete, sand and gravel
concrete bag (50 kgs) 300
areia (sand) fine 2000
areia (sand) rough 1500
blocos (bricks) 40x20:
ventiladores 25x25x7 cm 20
Irmã Catarina´s plot
Irmã’s project began by organising activities for local
children under the “Mother Tree” (1). Two elderly women
are working for Irmã and are living in a small two-room
straw-clad building (2). A brick building located north on the
plot is presently filling the role as schoolhouse and daycare
center (3). A pavillion nearby is providing a place for shadow
and outside assemby for activities like the daycare (4).
The largest building is the main house, which contains two 7 2
bedrooms, an office, a bathroom, a kitchen and a semi-
climatised space facing the yard (5). Between the main house
and the mother tree is a small wooden framed hut under
construction (6). The newest addition prior to our arrival is
the hen house located west on the site (7).
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Analysis of site
architect students chicken sound
Analysis of the site was a 10 day process of drawing and analysing
places and functions on the plot, investigating different typologies
of housing and systems surrounding buildings and everyday
We also did material and building-method analysis from all over the
town of Chimundo, seeing how they applied materials, looked at
material prices and methods of building.
As well as gettiong to know the site and the plot of Irmã
Catharina we got to know the people of Chimundo through these
investigations. That made it easier later on to get hold of materials
and equipment for building.
architect students sun view
walking water wind
Masterplan and footprint Group 1 Group 2
Defining a direction 3 main axis lines
Identifying public/private Focal point
After the analysis phase we formed groups for a Common area Tree define space
masterplan discussion. We formed four different
groups that each came up with their own
masterplan suggestion that then was discussed.
There were many common interests and a final
masterplan was made.
Out from that final common plan we had a new
discussion we called the “footprint”, which ment
where to place the building and how big of a
footprint the building would make. The same
four groups came up with different ideas and
then we decided to take one of the ideas further.
Group 3 Group 4
Administration Common vs private space
Common masterplan substraction
Definition Crossing axes Centre Trees Zones
40 Trainee centre
eng IT 1
Private 2 3
Irmã’s project Trainee centre Inner courtyard Inside/outside 3 zones with an inner 1st priority: the trainee
- it started underneath the - educate local teachers - local reference - the outdoor space is common space centre
tree locally used for most day- - will finance the
to-day tasks orphanage
Premises and concept-building
Closed room: IT Open room: english The tree Adding on Orientation
- secure - flexible use - as defining space - as expansion is - towards an inner
- permanent & semi- - temporary materials needed courtyard
permanent materials - extended space towards
- dust proof outside
Concept and program
The closed room
The closed room would accomodate the computer classes and
provide the needed protection against rain, dust, noise and
Program theft, while also giving a level and solid floor for the computers.
The building would be a place for learning. Irmã Catarina’s education programme It therefore followed that the closed room required a solid
for youth and adults needed new spaces to be able to continue in the future. The construction of a permanent nature.
programme needed spaces for two different classes: one in English and one in
We early identified that the two activities in the program had different needs and
requirements. The computer class required a space that would be safe from theft,
dust and moisture. For the English class, the need for protection was less urgent. We
therefore decided to let the two elements in the program shine through to the concept.
The concept for the building laid down the theoretical framework for two spaces, each
with it’s own qualities: a closed room for the computer class and an open room for the
The open room
The open room for the English class would be a more flexible
and open space. The simpler needs of this class put less
requirements on safety and protection than the closed room and
could therefore be defined by a lighter way of construction. Both
the walls and floor would thus be less solid and set, providing
flexibility while also giving protection against rain and dust.
The closed room
The closed room, intentionally to be used for computer lessons, needs to meet certain
criteria’s of safety, temperature, ventilation and dust. After studying local building
techniques and materials, we began looking at different solutions to meet these
requirements. To keep the temperature down, we decide to use thermal mass elements
in the two sun exposed walls in north and west. To let some light and air into the space,
we also wanted to use a row of traditional ventilator bricks placed high up on the walls,
covered by textile to prevent dust and rain intrusion. The south wall would open more
to the diffuse light and also work more actively towards the tun and entrance situation.
Between the two educational rooms, we wanted the opportunity to use them separately or
in a more open situation. We build a solid acoustic brick wall with a wide metal sliding wall.
Foot print and foundation
The first step after programming and establishing the concept, was to lay down
the foot print of the building and making the physical foundations.
The outline for the foundations were measured up and marked. Then the digging
of the ditches began. The concrete was mixed by hand and then poured in a 5 cm
thick layer in the ditches. Reinforcement bars were then laid and another 15 cm
layer of concrete was poured and levelled. Reinforcement bars for the columns of
the closed room were also inserted at this stage. After the concrete had set, we
laid to bands of 15 cm wide concrete bricks for the foundation wall.
Sketch plan of foundations Sketch section of foundation
The foundation wall
Deciding the footprint Digging the ditch Getting ready to mix and pour concrete Mixing concrete by hand Pouring the concrete for the foundation
The sand walls
In order to keep a cool climate inside the space, we introduce thermal
mass elements made out of sand elements in the two most sun-
exposed walls (east and north). These elements will have great thermal
properties because they collect heat during the day and emit it during
the night. Stacked rice bags filled with local sand and is a cheap and
easy way to build these walls. The materials are also local and recycled.
Section of the sand wall
The two sun exposed walls made as thermal
The first bags are filled with concrete to stabilize. Stacking Metal wire for attaching further layers Rebar grid layer for protection Layer of air between bag wall and the outer
The bottle light wall
The south faced wall opens towards the indirect light from the
sun, to get some light into the room, while still avoiding the
sun heating. In order of safety, regular windows are not a good
solution. Instead we choose to work with concrete ventilators and
also to introduce the usage of bottles for light and construction
Cutting the bottles with parafin, thread and water Stacking and concrete work Bricks and bottle pattern coming up Detail from inside Brushed with fine concrete
The open room The decision to create an open and closed room came about during our process of what to build.
The need was primarily two classrooms; English and computers.
The students agreed on building a closed room for computers, and a more open structure for teaching English.
The open room was to be defined by columns and overhanging roof.
And if time, close it more in, with doors and walls.
Making of the reinforced concrete foundation The foundation wall for the open room Ftting of the straw to the wooden frames of the doors of the The doors are being installed to the primary construction
In contrast to the concrete floor in the closed
room, we wanted the floor in the open room to
relate to the outside surroundings, the red sand.
So we decided on earth; rammed earth, just the
natural red sand/earth or a mixture with cement.
The finishing solution became a mixture of
cement, gravel and red sand.
Experimenting with different mixures of sand
and cement for the floor.
As the wall and doors are considered to be changeable for new
needs and situations in the future, we decided they should be
made of cheap, local, sustainable, and maybe light materials. So
we looked at the cheapest and easiest local material which is the
straw, which can be replaced annually. It’s also an simple way of
constructing that can easily be learned and performed. To make
it moveable so the user can decide which façade to open, we
chose wood to frame the straw.
When making the straw wall, the more straw one puts inside
of the frame, the stronger the wall becomes, and more unlikely
to lose the straw pieces. It is impossible to achieve both
transparency and solidity in such case, that’s why it came out
The framed doors with straw, can be opened up to the closed
courtyard to the south, and to the public road to the north,
according to different situations. while the walls are closed
towards west and by the entrance.
The poles was to be a continuation of the light roof,
but also to lock down the trusses in a secure way.
With the double roof, the construction was more exposed to the wind.
The poles and the cross-beams became important in solving this, technically.
The traditional way of using poles was to dig them down in the ground, thus
making them vulnerable to moisture and decay. It was therefore important for
us to raise the wooden poles above ground level. Metal pole climbers were not
available, so it became necessary for us to make our own design which then
would be produced in a local metal shop.
Detail drawing of the poles and the connection the the foundation
We started to look into different ways
of building a roof with the materials
we had available. We came to the
conclusion that a roof of straw or
corrugated iron were our options.
A roof of straw would have been an
inexpensive, but also the most difficult
and time consuming roof to build, so
we went for the corrugated iron roof.
Corrugated iron is a light and strong
material but also the most expensive
material we used. The size of the
buildings in the area were actually
based on the size of the iron sheet.
Cutting the iron sheets in two is time
consuming and would require both
expensive equipment and electricity.
So we let the corrugated iron decide
the size of our building too.
58 Cross section 1:100 Longitudional section 1:100
The roof and the climate
Hiding from the sun
The warm climate was one of the most important issues we dealt with in the design
process. In the spring and summertime it is normally more than 30°c in the middle of the
day. Iron transact heat very well, something we experienced when the iron sheets on the
finished roof were to hot to touch with our bare hands. We decided to build a double roof to
get rid of the heat before it went down in the classrooms.
It is common to see local buildings with metal roofs that gather the rain into cisterns or
prefabricated water tanks. Our roof is angled slightly, so as to lead rainwater down into a
cistern located by the mango tree on the north side of the building. The cistern is made of
brick and concrete, and is designed so that it is possible to sit on it. The idea is that the
cistern, the building and the mango tree will work together to define a meeting place in the
Vertical support Beams Reinforcement
Wood is a rather exclusive material in the Chibuto area, but still a lot
cheaper than steel and iron constructions. We had discussions about
which dimensions to use. The intention to build a light roof and a limited
selection of material dimensions led us to the choice of a quit thin barge
(38 mm x 38 mm). To make them strong enough we sometimes had to
glue and nail together two and two barges, and every joint in the main
construction was strengthened with a tin plate. The material was often
very bendy, but after some swearing and re-bending, the roof ended up
almost perfectly straight.
The constructive concept of the roof is to make the roof as on solid
element by using the constructive qualities of the beams, the metal roof
and additional reinforcement. The solid element will rest on wooden
columns and on the closed room.
Exchange rate NOK to MT 5,05
Exchange rate NOK to ZAR 1,25
Exchange rate NOK to SEK 0,85
BAS 198.760,00 39.358,42
AidGlobal 40.250,00 7.970,30
Total 239.010,00 47.328,71
In retrospect - Expectations vs. reality
Twenty peoply stacked together for five weeks in various accomodations can be straining for anyone. Warm bus rides, hot and burning days with physical building, cold nights,
cramped mealtimes. Yet it went remarkably well. There was a lot of discussion but few arguments. It was like something happened we can´t explain. We just went into a working
modus and worked non-stop for twelve days to finish this building because we did not want to start something and then leave it behind half-done. That would be useless to Irmã
Catarina and useless to us. We had to come to a common understanding - FINISH WHAT WE START AND DO IT WELL.
We were not functioning as NGO´s. We were very uncertain to our roll in this new situation. We were out in an african village/town, surrounded by children and people all day long
that expected us to do something. But what? We had a faint picture of building a chicken house before we left Norway. When we got down to Chimundo the chicken house was
already built. Through registrations and continuous dialogue with Irmã Catarina and with studying local building methods and materials we felt ready. We wanted to build a trainee
center so that Irmã Catarina could continue to fund her daycare center. The “african way” combined with our own knowledge evolved into something great. Something we became
very proud of. A building that belonged in the setting but at the same time was showing something new. We got to use methods they never had seen before as well as we learned so
much from them.
Seeing us the first 10 days going around with our sketch books, drawing, discussing and thinking was something the locals were not used to and they saw upon as a little strange.
We only got to know that after the building was finished though. However, when they saw us starting to build, working from dusk to dawn, they got curious and interested, and often
came to help out. We became a part of the community while we stayed there and it was hard to leave. It was so sad to see the building disappear in the horizon from the back of the
chapa when we drove away. It wasn´t completely finished and we did not know if it ever would be. We had prolonged our stay about two days and dropped our Maputo stop on the
way out of the country to get an extra 2 days of work. We chose rather to finish as much as we could and drive straight to South-Africa. That was a wise choice because we got the
roof up just in the last minute!
Allthough almost all of us got stomach problems during our stay and our helth was a bit up and down, the long sunny days kept us going strong and we didn´t loose focus in our
But now we are back home and Chimundo is far away and we rely on news from Filipe, the Aid Global employee in Chimundo. The house still needs electricity but it has doors and
the floor in the open room is ready so it is good to know that they have finished what needed to be finished.
We have been working with funding and raising money for the project so that Irmã Catarina can build the orphanage she dreams of having on her plot. Hopefully we can raise
enough money so that someone from our group can go back and continue the work or Irmã Catarina can get someone to build for her. We are now working on a masterplan and
future solution for the plot so she can have drawings available.
This is an experience we shall never forget. It shows how much can be done in a short amount of time and with cooperation between parties.
Irmã Catarina and her amazing staff
Mr. Filipe Galvão and Aid Global
The Mosambican Institute for Architecture and Design Maputo, UEM
Artist Mrs. Berry Brickle
The Royal Norwegian Embassy in Maputo
Mr. Frascisco Soares Manlhate, President of Chibuto City Council
Mr. Vilanculos, the local architect of Chibuto
The fantastic people of Chimundo and Chibuto!
Maria Flores Adamsen, Anette Margrete Basso, Stine Bjar, Xiao (Monica) Duo, Kristian Endresen,
Birgitte Haug, Tale Marie Håheim, Gøran Johansen, Silje Klepsvik, Tord Knapstad, Siri Nicolaisen, Larisa
Sarailija, Naeem Searle, Ina Sem-Olsen, Dan Paul Stavaru, Irmelin Rose Fisch Vågen, Mathias Wijnen,
Olafia Zoega, Eirik Solheim Aakhus
Sixten Rahlff, Architect. Master course coordinator, teacher.
André Fontes, Architect. Teacher.
Bror Ragnar Hansen, Architect. Coordinator and assistant teacher.
The project blog: www.basmozambique.wordpress.com
B E RGEN A RK I T E K T S KOL E
B E RGEN S C H OO L OF ARCH I T EC T U R E