Design Problem

The current D&A centre is outdated and not optimised for the needs of the classes. This building was build for temporary use while other parts of the school were under construction. Many of the STEM classes require technology and resources that are not always best provided for in this building. The main focus of the re-design is to make this space optimised for the environment. Construction is one of the biggest contributor to the global carbon emissions. This is often due to the materials used and how the building is made.

Design Process

This project will consist of researching of building materials, sketching ideas, learning ArchiCAD, and learning how to make a building sustainable. The focus of the design was to blend in with the new architecture on campus (like the PHE block) while also having a unique style. Most of my time was spent on the research of sustainable materials and practices in order to best understand how to utilise the space. Throughout this project there was also a struggle with the different online programs due to power-outs,


During my research I looking into different building materials like mycelium, cob etc. to design a building that would last while also having little impact on the environment. A summery of my findings is linked in the following google doc.

The key special materials that I chose are Enviroboard for the walls and Ferrock or AshCrete. These materials are very environmentally sustainable. The main drawback about these is they are harder to source in Nairobi which could increase the price of it. Enviroboard is a made of compressed agricultural waste fibres. It is fire and water resistant and stronger than conventional boards. Ferrock is a construction material used as a substitute for cement. It is produced from materials such as waste steel dust and silica from glass. The steel dust reacts with carbon dioxide to produce iron carbonate which becomes ferrock after it solidifies. It aborbes carbon dioxide and requires less energy to produce than normal concrete. Ashcrete serves a similar purpose to ferrock but it is produced differently. AshCrete is a construction material that is considered a substitute for concrete. It is made from fly ash, borate, bottom ash, and chlorine compound. It is very durable and cheap in addition to being environmentally friendly. It also uses a lot less water than traditional concrete meaning if there is a drought, it conserves more water. The main disadvantages of it are slow use in the construction process and susceptibility to low temperatures which the latter of the two is not a big issue in Kenya. The reason I did research on both these options is one might be more suitable for this project depending on later determined factors. Another alternative is cob which is a natural building material. Cob is very hard to work with, labour intensive and takes a long time when building with it. That being said, it is a traditional material used in many parts of the world and lasts a very long time. It is made with subsoil, water, and fibrous organic matter. It provides great natural insolation and can be used for a variety of geometries. There were many other materials I considered but they were often too hard to source in a way that would be advantages for this project.

Another material I spent a lot of time looking into was mycelium. While this material is not directly useful for this project this was a side project that I was very interested in and researched in-depth. Mycelium is the vegetative tissue of fungi that is recent years has gained a lot of attention as a construction material. It is 100% biodegradable and very versatile. It is a great insulator for both thermal and acoustics and it is fire resistance. All these advantages makes it a very interesting material for architectural use. The biggest challenges with using this material is it is not structurally strong and it does not last very long. If it is in a perfect environment, with the current technology, it would not last more than a few years. In the past, temporary pavilions and other installations have been built with this material, but there have been no permanent structures built out of this which is a key focus of this project.

Archicad Learn

I chose to use Archicad as the medium for my design. I ran into many technical issues when trying to learn and use this software as it was very hard to run on my laptop and I had other issues on my pc.

When going through this process I primarily used the tutorials from the archicad website and tutorials from SB. ARCHITECT. The ones from the archicad website primarily helped me understand the interphase and the basics of how to use all the different tools. The SB. tutorials went in depth on how to use each of the basic tools. This included in-depth ways to modify each object like doors, walls etc. This process took a long time because after each tutorial I spent time learning how each tool worked and experimenting with it. To compile all the skills I learned, I made a practice project that shows some of the primary skills that I have learned.

Link to Process Journal and Final Reflection Video