Sustainable Architecture. Homes in Kenya and Washington DC

03 February 2020, 20:45

A look at how Kenyan homes are built compared to those in Washington, DC

By Miriam Dangasuk, Sustainability Content Writer Intern with 

Growing up in Kenya, I stayed in similar housing as the one I've stayed here in Washington DC. My Kenyan home had electricity, tap water and concrete walls. However, when I visited rural areas of Kenya, people were staying in grass thatched mud houses. Initially, I associated that with poverty but on a closer look, I realized they were living in harmony with nature and the environment.

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Grass thatched mud houses are sustainable architecture.

The thatched roofs acts as an insulator and in Kenya during the hot season, it keeps the interiors of the huts cool and during the cold season, it warms up the huts. Also, it is maintenance free in that once it is laid well, there is no reason to keep repairing it. The thatch comes from readily available materials such as water reeds, long grasses and straws.

The mud is cheaply obtained because it is obtained locally as compared to construction materials needed for concrete blocks. It is also advantageous because it is good in aeration thereby maintaining indoor temperatures. Mud is also a better insulation than concrete (commonly used in the US). Furthermore, mud bricks are robust and can last for many years.  Read more about the advantages (and disadvatanges) of mud houses  

Did you know that there are many types of "mud houses?" Read about the different types of mud hoses around the world. 

Combat Climate Change Through Architecture

In the face of climate change, we need sustainable materials that will not contribute to the destruction of our environment. For example, it is better to use bamboo in the construction of doors and windows, move away from synthetic paints and use renewable energy as source of electricity. In the warmer countries, solar panels and solar cooking devices will make a huge difference while in cold countries, wind energy can be explored.

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