Food, shelter and clothing are basic needs for the humankind; but, without an adequate standard of living, these core principles are hard to achieve. With less than ten percent of Africans living in decent housing in urban areas, the need for affordable, sustainable technology for housing has never been greater. Most African governments have backed the concept of prefabricated housing and realize that it is an ideal solution to close the gap of housing problems in their countries. This has prompted a host of innovative designs from worldwide architects that integrate cheap, fast and eco-friendly aspects of modular or prefab homes to combat the housing situation.
The basics of prefab housing
There are various designs of alternative construction methods and prefab housing is just one way of combating the housing situation. Produced in a factory, the time it takes to construct is reduced considerably and it also means the weather won’t affect the time it takes to build. The kit usually comprises of wall panels, doors, roof material, insulation, electric and plumbing fixtures, many of which have the potential to incorporate other sources of energy, such as solar power, into the design. After buying materials in bulk at a lower cost, the kit is then shipped to a site where potential homeowners are able to purchase and build at a lower cost, and within a feasible time scale.
The materials used are protected against wind, fire and earthquakes and the speed in which they are produced offers an affordable option to the housing crisis in comparison to traditional construction. In addition, they provide low maintenance for homeowners through their flexibility and longevity having been built quickly in a factory, they’re easy to assemble on site and without waste to the local environment.
Many prefab designs offer flexibility through eco-friendly energy options, for example, solar or wind, which means homeowners can have warmth and electricity at times when there are electricity shortages. Projects such as those in Ghana, aim to improve a home’s sustainability by maximizing comfort without compromising on energy efficiency; for example, by capitalizing on solar passive design, collecting rainwater and composting organic waste. Elsewhere, other environmentally-friendly examples include using ethanol fireplaces which don’t need a chimney and wood, nor emit dangerous fumes but can still keep homeowners warm.
With so many sustainable, innovative designs being implemented right across the African continent in combination with energy and water efficient systems, recyclable materials and the appreciation of conservation, people's standard of living can only keep improving.