Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Architecture of Help: designing for life, improving lives

For most of us mud houses are something of the past. We are used to modern houses, tall apartment blocks and skyscrapers. Our homes are made of the best materials. We know there are small zinc sheet homes for the poor. Just as there are zinc homes, there are also plenty of places in Africa where mud houses are still used. Nka Foundation makes us aware of this situation and is reaching out a helping hand in a creative and innovative manner. It is currently accepting ideas and proposals from designers, architects and builders to improve these mud houses and entries can come for anywhere around the world.

Design Problem: A Typical Mud House at Abetenim Village

Nka is an Igbo and Akan word, and together they refer to art being an ancient tradition, one of the most ancient activities to be taken on by humans. It is a well chosen name, since Nka Foundation is focused on capital development through the use of different art forms, such as visual arts, architecture and performing arts. They hope to broaden people’s scope through their Mud House Design Competition.

The competition is open for entries until the 31st of August. The selection of the winning designs will be chosen between 15 September and 30 September by a panel of judges.

This competition aims to reach more than one goal:
  1. Nka Foundation hopes to solve a “design problem” of homes in Ghana (more specifically the Ashanti Region), that causes people to have a stereotypical perception of mud houses being for the poor. The solution will enable the people of different wealth classes to think more openly about mud houses and to eventually also live in mud houses which are less expensive than cement houses. Nka Foundation is trying to show people the potential of a well-designed and -built mud house.
  2. Another goal involves making people’s lives easier through this change. At the moment many people can’t afford a home of their own and often end up living in cramped spaces. By scraping the idea that a mud house makes for a bad home that will erode over time, these people can afford having their own humble space.
  3. This is an opportunity for the local labourers to learn from people all over the world. They will be able to build these homes for their own people, giving them work, experience and even confidence.
  4. In time the Mud House Design Competition will allow the people of Ghana (and elsewhere too, as the house that gets chosen becomes Open Source) to grow and live more comfortably. It also allows for better and more buildings. This alone should be a good enough reason to send in an entry or two! Another good reason is, of course, for the possible honour of winning, or at least a chance to build your portfolio.


Go to to read about the requirements, background, conditions, FAQ's and more. If you have the talent, you now have the chance to show it where it will matter: design for lives.

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