No One Said It Was Easy...

No One Said It Was Easy...

  • by Architecture for Humanity
  • Aug 24, 2012
  • comments

It's difficult some times to related the experience of the Design Fellow. Oliver Kienzi, working on the Kalebuka Football for Hope Centre in Lubumbashi, DR Congo, sheds light on his day-to-day–familiar circumstances for anyone designing architecture in the more technologically-inaccessible corners of the world.

Hats off to our design fellows for doing what they do - some sort of design superheros with laptops and tolerances for humidity, brownouts, and the occasional two-hour bus ride to a cancelled meeting. Design for humanity: easier said than done.

Working Hard, 22-Aug-2012

Design Fellow (DF) is trying hard to satisfy all demands from various sides (Architecture for Humanity HQ, AfH Cape Town, Center Host (CH), Design Development submission, budget restraints, schedule). He’s not trying to find excuses and he would be the first and happiest if he could satisfy every demand immediately.

There are things that can be considered:

- Electricity in Congo gets turned off every day, every where, erratically for various periods of time.

- DF stays in house of mother of center host. Example: 08/21: Electricity gets turned off at 9.30 am. DF works at house until battery is dead around noon. DF dislocates to nearby restaurant w/ electricity to work and for lunch. 3.30pm: DF dislocates to nearby hotel for internet connection, he works there often in the lobby (cappuccino: $9, coke, sm. Beer: $5, croquet monsieur: $16, salad nicoise: $19), internet 1hr: $5, internet 12hr: $10). 6pm: DF returns to his house, continues to work till battery of laptop dies.
No electricity at house. 9.00pm: DF meets with contractor of center host for construction of tennis court at CH school. DF does this as a favor, because he likes the CH and because he's interested in good working relationship. The meeting takes place with candle light at house of DF - not for romantic reasons. Electricity returns to the house the following morning at 8am.

- Internet connection is not easier: USB stick, wireless connection: $10 for logging in, checking messages, answering some, maybe sending attachment …$10 gone.

- DF can work at school of CH but doesn’t want to go there because it takes btwn 1 and 2 hours to get there plus expenses for transport (first week: $80).

- Housing: DF is lucky and happy to be staying in house next to house of the mother of the CH on the same property. She and her 3 daughters are very nice and cook every day breakfast and dinner for DF outdoors on a little wood charcoal grill. Cost: $400 rent/month (a steal in Lubumbashi), plus expenses for food, plus $50 for night guard, plus $100 for lady who cleans house, washes clothes and carries water every morning for DF from I don’t know how far away. There is no running water on property; bucket showers (in the case there is electricity: warm) do the job and safe a lot of water.

- Meetings: Get canceled without notice. DF finds out when he arrives at location.

RESULT: DF is happy to do a good job, design a good building, make the most space possible for the amount of money available, likes the Congolese People and Center Host and satisfy most of the small and big favors asked for.