Track Leader:          Michiel Smits (

Track organizers: Shweta Kamble

Pietro Degli Esposti 

Christophe Ndayizeye

Marta Rota

Ellen Rouwendal

Track volunteers:   Dennis van Gils

                                    Valerie van der Linden

                                    Julot Verstraeten

Through a presented contemporary problem case on rural housing in Africa, NGOs, practitioners and academia reflect on their presented solutions. Critically looking at the impact their solutions have on the level of self-reliance of the inhabitants they intend(ed) to help. These solutions will be presented through movies, an exposition (poster/videos), workshops and/or an oral presentation.

A large contributor to urbanization in Africa is the rural to urban migration. Here in the Sub-Saharan African rural areas, inhabitants often struggle to sustain their livelihood and meet the demands toward a ‘modern’ life. One of the main contributors towards this struggle is the need for inhabitants to provide their families with improved housing. With an extensive vernacular tradition, one would argue that this should be within their own abilities. However, the reality indicates that there is a tremendous knowledge gap between what inhabitants know and desire towards their improved housing.

Since the early sixties, NGOs, practitioners and academia have developed a vast body of knowledge in articulating improved building solutions in Africa. However, how they relate to inhabitants’ existing building capacities (knowledge, skills, tools and materials) and impact their self-reliance has often been a neglected topic. Up to this date many rural communities struggle to apply introduced building solutions in improving their own housing. One of the main contributors to this neglect is the lack of cross-disciplinary discussions and a critical reflection on the actual impact of offered solutions to their inhabitants. 

In our session NGOs, practitioners and academia will present applied approaches, frameworks, methods, tools, designs, and building methods, that focus on available inhabitant capacities. Thus, presenting solutions that use available local (renewable) resources, knowledge and skills, as departure point. Professionals together with students from various institutes apply the outcomes of the session on the presented case for suitability. By combining their solutions they will together offer a practical solution for the problem case presented at the beginning of the session.