An UnbrokenTradition

March 09 / 2017

A perceptive realisation of a sustainable thought process by Team Architects, New Delhi propagates the inherent way of life in the equatorial context with a wave of modern maturity through the ‘Villa Ecologique’ in Nkok, Gabo.Gabo is  a small country on the west coast of Africawith boundless natural resources, beauty and values which strongly bind humans to the supreme Mother Earth.

The architecture of its villagesexpresses an ingenuous story in the locally available material - Mud.Mud - as in clay, gravel, sand, silt, soil, loam ubiquitous and hence, civilisations, through time, have used it to create stable, warm and comfortable structures.  Unfortunately, in the modern context, mud construction is surrounded by several prejudices and is considered inferior to steel and concrete.However, Team Architects revel in the extraordinary properties of mud and thus their design employs the technique of cob construction for a  two-bedroom residence.

The entrance porch creates a transitory zone between the inside and the outsideand the dining forms the nucleus in response to the community's family interaction values. Since circular cob walls are self-stabilised andearthquake resistant, the individual spaces of the residence takecircular forms within the envelope. The earth walls act asthermal mass and maintain a comfortable internal environmentregardless of the equatorial sun. This project combines the ideas of ecology and community, inherent in the Gabonese culture, by developing an environmentally friendly strategy which provides impetus to technology and skill of the community.Developed as a prototype applicable to different situations, the mud-residence moduleis envisioned to cater to the growing housing needs of Gabon and initiating improvements in the standard of living.

The indigenous technique of cob construction uses sand, clay and straw for durable organic forms.This project addresses the misconceptions associated with mud construction and rejects the assumed notions of its status as a component used in poor rural construction. It pervades both architecture and popular thought by embracing its ecological and physical benefits. The vernacular construction is thus rightfully projected as a sophisticated buildingtechnology.