Wrapping up the trip – how the project has changed

As of last week we have (reluctantly) returned to Finland but feel enthusiastic about continuing the work here. Since the trip ended everyone has had a little bit of time to process all the influences that we got during our stay in Dar es Salaam, and it seems that we have quite a clear and coherent idea about how we should continue with the project.

IMG_5712Two women and their babies on their way home to Chamazi

IMG_5651A child from the Chamazi community playing

The second week of the trip reinforced our feelings about which tasks will form the base of the project, and after several meetings with the CCI representatives it seems that CCI is also on board with our plans. Completing the conceptual and physical design of the community office building will be our main priority, and we will also make design proposals for a partial master plan and multi-family housing units. We plan to make detailed designs and an extensive implementation plan regarding the community office, and if this pilot project proves out to be successful, the same construction methods may then be duplicated in the housing construction. We also decided to include a revised (partial) master plan in the project since it is important to consider the long-term development in the area. This way we can investigate the context in which the community office building will be sitting now and in the times to come. This way we can make sure that the design decisions we make take the community towards a sustainable and environmentally rich neighbourhood in the future.

IMG_5580Annica, Lea and Amanda working at Mikadi Beach, our accomodation

We are also aiming for a very practical rather than academic approach since it seems that the community in question is really looking for solid results and quite a lot of academic reports and conceptual plans have already been made regarding the Chamazi area. This is why the implementation plan will have a major role in the project. Some things that we will have to look into will be determining a budget and possible funding options for the community office project as well as finding organizations and professionals that we can co-operate with to work towards realizing the plans. The community will need funding as well as constructional education to be able to work with the new bottle wall technique. Most construction work will probably be executed by the Chamazi community members themselves (just like they are doing now with the brick construction), so hiring a lot of external construction labour will probably not be necessary. Members of our group should also be able to make another trip to Tanzania to deliver the building plans and supervise the construction work.

IMG_5770A poster from our presentation summarizing the main scope of our project

So it seems that the project scope has both become more accurate as well as becoming quite extensive, and we will have a lot of issues to tackle in the following weeks of work. During our last meeting with the CCI representatives on the Friday before going back home we agreed to keep close contact with both CCI and the community members to keep them informed about how the project is developing. We have agreed to arrange some Skype meetings as well as making sure that the final project report will be delivered to Chamazi as soon as it is finished. The essential parts regarding the construction and maintenance of the community office building will be compiled into an individual booklet that will be translated to Swahili. This way we are trying to make sure that we provide the community with plans and information that they can understand and utilize easily.

IMG_5810Local grocery store in Chamazi

IMG_5858Amanda, Annica, Vilma and Lea in Chamazi

In general, it seems that the whole group feels quite satisfied with all the information and experiences that we got out of the trip, and we somehow managed to fit all the important visits, meetings and workshops into the short time span of two weeks that we had. Now the task is to process that information into our planning work, and look for contacts to help us realize the plans.

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Last day in Chamazi !

For our last day together in Dar es Salaam, we were in Chamazi to meet the community. We wanted to meet them a last time before to come back in Finland. After a breakfast offered by the community, we presented shortly our first drawings about the community building. Only four persons were there during the presentation on Thursday so it was interesting to speak about it with them and hear their motivation and happiness about our beginning.

After this discussion, we offered our gifts to the children and the first office equipment to the community. It was a very emotional and happy moment. We left the place with a twinge but full of hope and motivation to go far in this project !

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IMG_5844Children from Chamazi receiving and playing with gifts

IMG_5820Discussion about concept drawings of community office

Presentations and visit to Art in Tanzania

On Thursday we had presentations about our projects at the ARDHI University. At the presentation were the community members as well as other people we met during these two weeks. The presentation focused mainly on the process of this project. What we’ve been doing during our field trip in Dar es Salaam and what the project scope will be. Now our work in Tanzania is done but we will continue on it when back in Finland.

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Tanzanian tea break after the presentations.

After the presentations our group had the possibility to join Kari Korhonen and Marjut Valtanen from an NGO called Art in Tanzania to go visit one of their projects where they’re planning to construct a house using the water bottle technique. This was really interesting and we learnt a lot about the technique. We also got the possibility to hear about the development work Art in Tanzania is performing in Tanzania.

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Marjut showing us the construction site where they are planning to build a house using bottles filled with sand for the walls.

Defining the project scope with Chamazi community

During the second weeks first visit to the Chamazi community we continued the discussion about the community building/office space, housing and bottle wall technique. Our idea is to design the community building as a pilot project for the bottle technique. If the technology is constructed and well working it could later be applied to houses as well. We also used the day to deepen our understanding of the area in terms of existing services, houses, inhabitants etc. in and around the area where the community is developing.

The participatory workshop from the previous week resulted in many ideas for activities and functions of a communal space: conference room, super market, meeting place for federation, nursery, bar, restaurant, movie watching, library, toilet, pharmacy, office, sports locale, playing area, shops, meeting room. With 10 of the Chamazi community’s members we went through the ideas about the office space and each of the participants got two votes two define which activities and functions are most important. It was very clear that the community members agreed that an office space and a place for conferences and meetings are the most important functions. Other things that they wished for where shops, bar, nursery and pharmacy. With these ideas we are now starting to sketch ideas for possible designs that we can discuss with the community before we return to Finland.

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Kurasini

Today we visited the Kurasini community. The people living in Kurasini are getting evicted from the community due to expansion of the port. We had the possibility to meet some Federation members that still live in Kurasini but are waiting to move to Chamazi.

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Our housing project is mainly affecting the people moving to Chamazi as the existing people already have their houses. That’s why we wanted to meet the people living in Kurasini and share our ideas with them. We discussed the house typology as well as the constructing technique and materials. The people have big believes in Chamazi. They felt that some of the ideas were self-evident and others already implemented in Chamazi.

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Thoughts from the first week of on-site work

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Construction technicians working in Chamazi.

The first week of our excursion to Dar Es Salaam has passed by faster than we could have imagined!  Getting to know the culture and people of Dar has been very rewarding, and we are beginning to feel more comfortable working in such an unfamiliar environment. We have also managed to gather tons of valuable data and developed our ideas together with the community and diverse field of professionals.

So far we have had several opportunities to co-operate with the Chamazi community and Federation (Federation of Urban Poor) members. These meetings have provided us with the insight on how our housing project’s direct beneficiaries feel about the current housing situation and possible development goals. During the community visits we have investigated about the methods that the community currently uses in their construction process. We have also held on-site workshops to map out the community’s most urgent development needs. From the first meeting it seemed clear that the community had a positive response to the bottle wall technique that last year’s Aalto group introduced to them, and we wanted to continue work with this concept. We did some research concerning other possible construction techniques related to affordable and recyclable materials, but after making some comparisons it appeared that the bottle wall technique would be the most affordable and suitable for our purposes. In addition to the building material discussion we have held workshops concerning the inhabitants’ housing needs where we also presented the ideas from last year’s housing designs made by Aalto students. This way we could get direct feedback on the previous plans and start developing them to the right direction.IMG_5674

One part of the project that has received special attention has been the concept for an office building for the Federation ja Muungano Housing Co-op, which is something that the community representatives suggested as a possible pilot project during our first mutual meeting. The idea has since been expanded into a multi-purpose community center that could include an office as well as other public and semi-public spaces. This community center could be constructed using the bottle wall technique and thus function as a pilot project for requesting a building permit for the new bottle wall houses.

In addition to the community visits we have discussed our ideas with the local NGO CCI (Center for Community Initiatives). We have learned a lot about CCI:s working methods and the previous land use plans and development goals for Chamazi. This knowledge has complemented the information that we managed to get in Finland.

Meeting with Scolar the architect.

Meeting with Scolar the architect.

As for other planning professionals working in Dar Es Salaam area we have had a meeting with local architects Humphrey Kalawte and Scholastice Manwa. Mr. Kalawte has been previously involved in the City in Transition course in Finland and is now practicing his profession in Dar Es Salaam. He was able to answer our questions concerning tanzanian building traditions and cost-effective construction materials. Scolar is the architect that produced all the current land use plans and housing plans for Chamazi, and she was able to give us feedback about the direction that our project is currently going.

Finally, we have made some evening visits to Tanzania’s Nationals Housing Museum and the Finnish ambassadors reception, where we have learned about traditional vernacular architecture and the other development projects that Finnish organizations are currently running in Tanzania.

Workshop day

On thursday, we had a workshop day with the community in Chamazi. To get more informations, we separated the group in two parts : one about “housing design” (Vilma and Amanda) and the second one about “building materials” (Annica and Lea). It was a really rich and useful day because we learned a lot with them. Now we have more details about the actual situation about construction techniques and public spaces/ services available. Moreover we know and understand what they want and what are their/our possibilities.

They apparently really appreciated our visit and looked happy to show and tell us their actual skills and needs.

 

 

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Community member is showing us the tiles’s fabrication

 

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Discussion about a water bottles technique for a possible affordable construction