The sprawling capital of Niger, Niamey, is facing a housing crisis. Home to over 1.3 million people, part of the problem lies in the city’s trend to build low-density Western style houses. The Niamey 2000 housing project set out to counter this by proposing a new model which increases density, is more affordable and is designed sustainably to protect against Niger’s scorching temperatures.
Designed by Atelier Masomi, the structure is made from locally sourced and produced unfired earth bricks, which are formed with a manual block press. The bricks are cheaper, more sustainable than imported materials plus their construction provided local employment.
The colour of the unfired bricks is amazing. I love how by producing the bricks locally they’ve reduced construction costs and have created employment opportunities for the community.
– Passive cooling techniques including breezeways
– Earthen construction used to passively cool the building
– Window apertures are carefully placed to capture the breeze
– Natural and locally sourced material selection
The site’s position in a transition zone between an old industrial area and a residential neighbourhood meant we could explore elements of both in our design, so the roofline presents a residential gable to the street and an industrial sawtooth profile to the laneway. Recycled red bricks, concrete lintels and natural timber also nod to both the brick warehouses and the heritage homes that sit side-by-side in Brunswick. Being on the corner of the lane allowed us to build right to the edge of the site, with the front door to each townhouse opening directly onto the laneway. In keeping with the street setback, the front yard is maintained as a shared space – only fitting for a project with collaboration at its heart!
Nadine is the founder and editor of Eco Edition and founder of the Eco Edition Design School. She’s an experienced interior designer, sustainable materials consultant, speaker and serial home renovator.