An alternative sustainable solution for the current housing problems has emerged.
SUDU (Sustainable Urban Dwelling Unit) began as an international research laboratory promoting new technical developments for the housing sector. This research project is a collaborative effort between ETH Zurich and EiABC (Ethiopian Institute of Building Construction and City Development). Currently, EiABC is putting a great effort to promote quality education and practical research in the construction sector.
The research has come up with a prototype house built as an alternative for the current building culture which has long term environmentally damaging effects. From their design to construction, the current houses we are building around the city are not contextual. They have a lot of unnecessary consumption of raw materials and energy, which are either imported costing a lot of foreign currency or are depleting our natural resources.
This project put to test new ways for cost effective and sustainable methods, which can be applicable in Ethiopia. The construction which nearly took a year, between September 2010 and June 2011, took place at EiABC campus. The materials for the construction are mainly earth and natural stone which can easily be found locally. Various techniques are used in employing these materials. For instance, Earth is a familiar construction material here in Ethiopia, though it has not been used to its fullest capabilities. Its applied on the SUDU by compressing it to make hydra form bricks and thin clay tiles and also ramming it in a formwork to build walls.
Beyond opening new doors for practical research on sustainable construction techniques, an international summer school was also held at the beginning of the project to teach students from EiABC and ETH Zurich as part of the collaborative effort and spreading the knowledge in general. It was also a training opportunity for the local laborers who worked on it afterward. This ensures the continuity of the new building techniques developed here.
The acceptability of the SUDU among the Ethiopian society is at a very early stage. This is because a lot of people do not have information on this project. It was mentioned by few articles like in the ADDIS LIFE magazine as one of the 10 New Ideas for Addis. Therefore, there is a lot of effort and promotion to be done in delivering this to the society.
The SUDU has paved way for new projects like the SRDU(Sustainable Rural Dwelling Unit) and SEDU(Sustainable Emerging Dwelling Unit). As a pioneering project it’s an admirable beginning.
By Semira and Chalita
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