Contemporary Mozambique: 4 Projects that Respond to Present Challenges

After centuries of Portuguese colonization and recent conquest of independence, Mozambique has undergone a difficult period with new challenges, such as the combat against poverty, the infrastructure deficit, and uncontrolled urban expansion. On the architecture field, it is possible to notice the impact of these challenges on the evolution of the Mozambican projects. Some examples are: the prediction of the need to expand the building in the future, the adoption of climate control passive measures and the utilization of vernacular constructive techniques adapted to the local context (as a way to minimize energy consumption in the different phases of building construction and its respective costs).

On this point, we have selected four projects already published in ArchDaily and completed over the last years in different cities of Mozambique that, by choice of materials, constructive techniques or other project decisions, reflect not only Mozambican contemporaneous challenges, but are also part of the expression of the local architectural identity.

Manica Community Center / Architecture For Humanity + Alina Jerónimo + Paulo Carneiro

In order to build the project, people from Manica community were trained and local materials were used - like earth derived from the excavations for the building. It also adopted artisan techniques, like the use of bamboo, which infused improving technologies that were already part of the local constructive tradition, adapting them to the contemporaneous requirements of comfort and durability. With GDM (Manica sports and recreation organization) collaboration, it was possible to train more than 40 people from the community and integrate them in several phases of the project, from the drawing and production of compressed earth blocks (BTC) to the building construction itself.

Compact Housing in the Informal Settlements of Maputo / Casas Melhoradas

Casas Melhoradas is an applied research project on housing for low-income groups in the informal settlements of Maputo. The project’s latest housing prototype was completed in 2018 and consists of a low-rise high-density row-housing typology with six dwellings on a plot where there would otherwise sit a single family, in the Mozambican capital. The project has a green roof where an additional floor can be added, which ensures project robustness in case further urban densification should be relevant in the area. Furthermore, evaporation from the roof improves the indoor climate in the dwellings. The project was built using locally produced compressed earth blocks reducing energy consumption in the construction process.

Cabo Delgado School / Ziegert Roswag Seiler Architekten

This initiative of the Aga Khan Foundation in Mozambique seeks to preserve and improve the local architecture tradition, using renewable resources such as soil and bamboo, providing a pleasant temperature in inside spaces and regulating the humidity. The project objective is to improve the existing construction methods, in order to extend the useful life of the buildings and offer to the rural communities a high quality architecture.

Netherlands Embassy / KAAN Architecten

The Dutch embassy in Mozambique is located close to the ocean and just outside the center of the country’s capital, Maputo. The building has been pushed to the edge of an orthogonal, gently sloping site, so as to leave room for a walled garden. Climatological considerations played an important role in the design. Since the area is located in the southern hemisphere, the building opens up to the cooler south side, while its north face is much more closed, designed to admit light, while keeping the heat at bay.