Informal settlements have become a defining element of most urban regions of in developing countries on the continent today. With almost a sixth of the world population living in informal settlements across the globe, it is estimated by the United Nations Human Settlements Program that this figure will double by 2030. However, not much has been done in the field of architecture and planning in Uganda and Africa as a whole, to better understand and design for thisreality that is to come.
The Kibugambata Community Village project is a proposed upgrade for an informal settlement that constitutes a housing model with an accompanying Community Centre facility in Jinja district Uganda. The design vision for the entire informal settlement is to create a life line which is a chain of different hotspots across the entire site which support the housing clusters, strengthen the social ties between the communities and economically empower the residents of Kibugambata.Hot spots, in this case, are defined as people and activity points, or, places with a high level of activity and hence people are drawn to them. Hot spots take on different scales, from being public open spaces at a master plan scale, to verandahs at the scale of a house. This concept was inspired by the site. People live on the outside of their houses, in a sense that, day to day activities such as washing, cooking, children playing, conversing with neighbors etc., happenoutside the house, in the shared spaces, spaces between buildings and so on. This fact greatly contributes to the strong social fabric of the place, which is the backbone of the community. This housing model therefore proposes a way of living that is primarily centered on the fostering, creation and preservation of these ‘hotspots’.
The incremental housing approach was chosen for this model because this is the reality in informal settlements. However, the hotspot concept is incorporated into the incremental housing model, such that at each stage of growth, there is an addition of a hotspot onto the house.
This same hotspot concept determines how houses are organized around each other. The orientation and placement of hotspots on one house determine the orientation of the neighbor’s house and hence fosters the creation of hotspots at the neighborhood scale and therefore, a cluster of homes is primarily organized around a system of hotspots which are connected to each other. At the housing cluster level, the hotspot is a common house, which is designed as a home with a home based enterprise that is a food kiosk or bar, where community elders can meet, carry out communal activities, host meetings etc. The common house fronts the courtyard around which the cluster is organized and where children play from.
The Kibugambata Community Centre is proposed as a hot spot at the Master plan scale. This pavilion, just as the makeshift shelters on site that inspired it, it designed to be a flexible space that adapts to different community needs. This is made possible by the use of custom designed, movable laminated ply boards that can be used by community members to create different spaces over the open floor plan.