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Think (1)

A friend was walking on the streets of London last week, and he saw the house in which Benjamin Franklin lived in the 18th Century. This is the 21st Century. We had previously reasoned together about the building codes and styles of Africa as compared with those Europe. Neither of us is a civil engineer, just concerned persons.
By looking at a European ‘house’, without doing a bill of quantities, you know the European house costs less to build than the African equivalent. First, the windows are smaller because of the ambient / environmental temperature. That is an inevitable difference. Then the rooms are smaller because of the culture of not accumulating doodads.
The roofs are steeper for reasons such as extra storage and less incidents of leakage–however, steep roofs cost more than relatively flat roofs.
Above all, the quality of workmanship can be described as ‘final’. You wont need to call the plumber back in 6 months; you wont need to call the electrician to ask if any earthing was done at all; and the cables dont burn becuase of power surge resulting from on-and-off power supply.
Moreover, the inside walls are not built of 6″ blocks anymore; they use wood ply! The decks are not made of truck loads of concrete and steel; they are made of steel supports overlaid with ply materials. Kitchens are continually evolving and summarily, someone is thinking!
But what is the main material of house construction? Baked clay blocks, for the external walls!
As recently as the 1980s, some houses were still built of dried clay in Africa! Maybe in UK the clay blocks are set in kilns, but in Uganda at least in the 1990s, they were baked by setting them on fire with firewood and other combustibles! But baked clay is baked clay! They are not easily weathered by the actions of rain, heat, etc. And they certainly do not cost as much as concrete blocks.
The clay bricks, and the houses resulting, last so long to justify the extra efforts put in!
Why then would anyone build with the dried clay??
One of three things: ignorance, poverty, or…?
When do African buildings cost so much more than the European?
Ignorance, affluence, or…?
Very few people attempt to do things differently. But if we do not evolve, like the dinosaur, it’s only a matter of time! What can YOU improve upon around you this week?

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One comment

  1. Hmm, food for thought. Thanks for this Lanre.

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