The first generation of architecture students recently completed a design project for a Multi Purpose Community Centre (MPCC) in Hoachanas, in the Hardap Region.
The brief was derived from an ongoing project under the Namibian German Special Initiative Program (NGSIP), initiated by the Namibian and German governments to develop rural infrastructural projects in those regions of Namibia that were affected by German colonial rule. Several communities requested the construction of MPCC's to create a public space of gathering, as well as facilities for Traditional Authorities, cultural performances, small-scale trading and production facilities amongst others.
During a first site visits to Hoachanas the students familiarized themselves with the settlement, the communities' brief and the site, and started developing schemes in groups of 3 to 4 students, guided by second year studio tutors Prof. Sampson Umenne, Victor Chirva and Phillip Lühl. Apart from designing new structures, students proposed the re-use and incorporation of existing underutilized buildings into the scheme, the use of locally available construction materials and landscaping of surrounding areas. In a second site-visit students could present the conceptual schemes to get feedback from the project steering committee, as to how proceed further with their designs. After further design development the project concluded with the final presentation of the 4 group projects to the Department and invited guest critics on July 15th.
For the students and the department this project represents the first step towards a deeper involvement in the challenges of rural development and decentralisation in Namibia.
*Originally published on 1 July 2011