Globally, there is an increase in population especially in third world and developing countries. As these population increases, it results to increase in demand for social facilities such as schools, hospitals, community centers and children’s home. These facilities are usually constructed with various materials mostly depending on the affordability and availability. However, there is need to use materials that are long-lasting and environmental friendly in order to minimize the issues of global warming and increased greenhouse gas emissions that lead to acid rains which eventually leads to a reduction in crop yields due to soil pollution, decrease in number of aquatic life due to deoxygenating of water and flooding as a result of increased water level in seas and lakes (Benton & Newell, 2014). Due to environmental awareness, currently, most people have adopted the use of eco-friendly materials for construction and designing such buildings in an environmentally friendly manner.
Architects and designers should ensure that they consult with the local residents on their needs before developing any infrastructure. They should also consider the long-term impacts of the construction to the society, economy and the environment (Zuo & Zhao, 2014). In terms of the social impacts of the construction, it should be decent enough to cater for the social need of people such as education in case of a school or health, in case of a health facility. Economic impacts of a construction are in the case of a business facility and environmental impact of a construction includes its effects on the environment in terms of environmental friendliness or environmental pollution.
There are various designs and materials that are used in the construction of infrastructures especially in the recent projects as a result of environmental awareness. They are discussed below;
Shelters can be built of plastic paper especially during emergencies like floods and earthquake. This is because they are fireproof, waterproof, affordable and can be recycled, (Ban). Plastic papers were used to build shelters in Japan in 1995 for victims of the earthquake, (Ban). Simple structures can be used to provide accommodation to less privileged. Unfortunately, this is usually not the case always since “we are too busy working for the privileged people” (Ban). People should design and built their own houses Hemp and shipping containers can be used to build various facilities like schools and rehabilitation centers. Members of the community should be involved in designing. People, especially the needy can be empowered economically by building structures for them to start a business, for example, a seventy years old lady helped to build a laundry house where she laundered for others for a pay. “I wish to develop a community that actively embraces innovative and sustainable design to improve living conditions for all” (Ban, 2013)
Architecture is a tool that should improve the lives of people, their dignity, benevolent, society, and culture. The choice of material and building technique plays a key role in the distribution of resources, the participation of the community members and equality. “We cannot build homes for seven billion people in steel and concrete only” (Heringer, 2014). Wood can also be used for construction since it is eco-friendly and will result in the planting of more trees that will give out oxygen then take in carbon (IV) Oxide. Sinclair’s quest to cater for the accommodation needs for victims of crises made him come up with the design for competition idea, in that made architects from thirty countries to take part (Ban, 2013). To encourage different designs, Bell and Wakeford edited Scott Shall’s Design Like You Give a Damn (2009) idea to make it easy to understand. In Safe: design takes on risk, architects are advised to design simple structures to provide shelter for those in need (Antonelli, 2005). It was a success since so many designs emerged which were used to provide shelter for those in crises. This was aimed to provide shelter to the needy globally. The aim of this study is to compare and contrast the design and materials that were used in three recent projects which are; Druk White Lotus School, Ladakh, India, Makoko floating School in Nigeria and Warka water tower in Ethiopia.
Druk White Lotus School is a learning institution located in a desert in Ladakh, India. It was constructed to provide education to less privileged children who could not access the other parts of India, especially during winter when the access road to India was closed by ice. Most of the materials used for construction were readily available such as mud mortar and mud bricks, grass and timber. Though some other materials such as cement, steel, and glass were located far from Ladakh, thus requiring transportation (Riise & Adeyemi, 2015). The school recycled waste water from the kitchen, they use snowmelt for irrigation and their toilets are dry. All these on water which is a scarce resource. Their wastes are reused, for example, human refuse is used for fertilizer while dry animal dung is used for cooking. This eco-friendly. The fact that their thrombe walls are insulated prevents heat absorbed during the day form being lost at night to provide warmth at night since temperatures are usually low at night. Using readily and locally available materials make this project a success in terms of Eco-friendliness and also their social role of providing education to the needy since they also offer boarding facilities for students from remote areas.
Makoko floating school is a learning institution in Lagos lagoon in Nigeria. It was constructed to provide education especially to the less privileged members of the society in Nigeria. Previously, the school was constructed with plastic drums or barrels. Students use canoes as a means of transport to and from school on daily basis. There are various challenges experienced by the residents of this area some of them being lack of education, housing, unemployment and frequent flooding which occurs at least three times in a year.
In order to better the lives of the local residents in this area, Amsterdam- based architectural practice NLE' has partnered with the local community in Makoko. They have helped in the building of this floating school using local materials that are environmentally friendly. Among the materials used for construction include, eco-friendly bamboo, and wood from the local sawmill. They use a renewable source of energy, waste materials are recycled and the building is also designed to harvest rainwater, thus, saving on this scarce resource (Herzog, Lipman, & Kammen, 2001). Despite the fact that this school was built to cater for the social well-being of children, that is, providing them with education, there are a great number of young adults in Makoko who have no education. Boys who have dropped out of school have formed gangs that terrorize the community members. There is also a very high population growth rate and the high unemployment rate in Makoko. Therefore, ensuring that the level of population growth is under control would enable all the children to access education in Makoko in future.
Since Makoko school was built with local material like bamboo and wood which were locally sourced, thus not requiring transportation, and the fact that they designed the building in a manner that facilitated harvesting the scarce natural resource, that is rainwater makes this facility the most environmentally friendly. “The simple but innovative structure adheres to standards for sustainable development with technologies for renewable energy, waste reduction, water and sewage treatment.”
Warka Water Tower is a water conserving project in Ethiopia that gathers water from the air, that is rainwater and fog then stores for the people in need (Warka Water, 2018). This was due to increased incidences of deaths especially young children who died after consuming contaminated water. The materials used for the construction of this tower was bamboo, hemp, and biodegradable plastic. The metal hemp was used in order to provide support to the tower. There is a plastic wire mesh inside the bamboo on top of the tower which is used to collect rainwater, dew and fog then local residents can access this potable water (Cheng, 2003). Socially, Individuals can gather under the tower and have time to chat and bond. Financially, constructing the tower is very affordable since local materials that are readily available were used.
All these projects used eco-friendly materials that were readily available, thus requiring no transportation hence reducing the amount energy consumption as well as carbon released to the atmosphere. Reusing and recycling used materials is essential since it prevents soil pollution, in case these materials were to be dumped on landfills as well as saving on scarce resources like water as in the case of Druk White Lotus School.
Shipping containers should be used to build schools refugee camps and other public facilities like hospitals (Smith, 2005). This is because they are readily available at the port once the merchandise has been delivered to their desired destinations. Rather than congesting the port, these containers should be used in a more beneficial way. They are eco-friendly because the very little amount of raw material is required to complete the building. These are the roofing materials and flooring materials which require a very little embodied energy thus releasing very little amount of greenhouse gas (GHG) emission and carbon (IV) Oxide gas to the atmosphere.
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