We’re back! New impulses, new feelings, a new travelogue. Let’s go back again to Ghana, after two years, to collaborate with VIS and design sustainable agricultural greenhouses. Stay tuned!
We’re back! New impulses, new feelings, a new travelogue. Let’s go back again to Ghana, after two years, to collaborate with VIS and design sustainable agricultural greenhouses. Stay tuned!
Last week for the project completion. Many tasks are yet to be fulfilled.
During the week end and early on Monday 7.11 we therefore went to buy few materials to Efiduase and Ejisu for the plumber and eletricians and other items, including about 70 yards of white fabric to be used as curtain and heating screens slightly underneath the roofing sheets. The eletricians finally came on Tuesday 8.11 and completed their work in one day and half. The plumber also finished the the bathroom and kitchen fixings in a short time, connecting all the inlet and oulet water pipes, the drainage, the watertank system with his filter.
On Wednesday 9.11 we took the chance to go to the tailor workshop at Abetenim, opened since last year but then facing the lack of projects and incomes issues, and now working again thanks to Hanlu, a volunteer from London. She helped us preparing the fabrics, though very busy those days, making the job along with the local tailor. The work consisted of sewing loops on two edges and joining pieces together to make the stripes wider and cover more roofing space between the trusses.
The same day we went to Opoku getting very close to the last rammed earth piece of his house. We also had a tour to the palm wine “factory”, tasting fresh palm wine just extracted, which turned out to be delicious!
By Sunday 13.11, we need to complete the main work and invite all the people to the inauguration event. The electric system is also operating and we could not help working until night hours.
Metal mesh, mosquito net, varnishin on plywoods, transparent sheets on gables, water flashings, gutters and babadua screens made these last days schedule busy of activities.
Saturday night we also fixed the fabric all under the metal sheets, with special handmade hooks and quarter rods as supporting bars. We really believe it is partially going to help against the overheating and the natural ventilation.
After completing the gutters, we made a kind of filter out of metal mesh frame and stones filling, right before the water tank inlet pipe, to prevent from solid matters, washed away from the roof during the first rains, to fall within the tank.
Sunday 13.11, stille before the party we had plenty time to nail more babadua over the openings and to prepare the floor down to the patio step, reusing wood and stone leftovers in order to give a walkable surface, making a small slope for the correct drainage. The middle will not be completed until the project is used. We have planned to plant a cocoa tree, as a symbol of wealth and richness, framed in a new meaning of cultural and artisanal rich knowledge. We then look forward for the first group, who will settle its activities and bring life within the project, to plant the tree.
Opoku’s house is also about to be completed. Saturday 12. 11 the last formwork was removed and we immediately started the roofing structure. We decided to donate left boards, meanwhile designing the cheapest kind of roofing structure he can afford, buying as less pieces of wood as possible after our departure. We really hope that the community will help Opoku to complete the house and let his dream to celebrate Christmas time in it with his family to become true.
The truss is made up of double 4by1 inches boards, which are about 12 feet long. Cutting these boards 8 feet the slope was not enough. The angle is very importante both for the rain drainage, the noise and for internal comfort. Thus, with more angle, more air can flows under the roof and the solar radiations are kept farther. We then cutted 9 feet, with 3 feet left to be used as overhanging of the veranda and the upper connection between the two roof beams. In order to lower to cost of this truss, we used a metal tie rod, cheaper and stronger than the wooden one.
The veranda will have metal square pipes as pillars with spot foundations made of concrete within old plastic bucket castings, with iron bar as joint, and placed above stone and sand level.
Moreover, on Friday 11.11 the last formwork has been removed. We are really thankful to all the volunteers and workers for their contribution, but first Opoku, who has kept the willing so high since the beginning until now, never asking for any kind of finacial support but working hard to buy the material, being humble and confident in his personal way to achive his life vision.
Best of luck Opoku! We really admire you.
The Sunday party was fun! Few guys from Abetenim danced for hours and what is meant to be the next working space for artisans became a dancefloor for one night!
After that night we still had time to complete last small works, such as the shower box made of covering sheets, the backside entrance with its staircase, the curtain with hooks towards the patio space, last babadua screens and gutter fixings.
On Monday 14.11 eARThouse is completed!
After hours of work and effort given by our volunteers, the project has been finally finished. It was a quite stressful but satisfying time here, eventhough the site still needs to be changed from the inside, from Nka itself, addressing a more relevant development strategy instead of let this place to be a showroom of empy structures. Otherwise, all the time and energies that we and all the volunteers have spent will be wasted forever. This is our biggest wish. We really hope and we are going to take on it, that this project and the others will host many artistic activities, following the initial but missing mission of Nka. The time here was really made of ups and downs. Who are we building for? Does the communty identify whit Nka’s site and is this new project part of Abetenim? These are the key questions which can turn the whole process into a meaningful and effective community development if properly answered. A huge thank to Mr. Mantey. His great open-mindness, generosity and friendly attitude kept our spirit and motivation up many times. We surely believe our collaboration and friendship will allow us to meet again and share more ideas about the local artistic development of rural villages in Ghana.
Time to go back home! Good bye all.
Even October has passed. Monday 31.11 we talked with the plumber about the water system, all the kitchen and bathroom facilities, the watertank and the rainwater collecting system from the gutters. Hopefully he is going to finish his job in three days.
After that we went to Juaben to buy few things left to complete the doors and the mosquito screens.
Gutters work is still in progress. Without using any fascia board, which is very popular here, it is becoming a bit complicated to set the slope properly, due to uneven roof overhang. The gutters are supported by hand made hook out of metal quarter rods. The thinness of the metal sheets makes us troubles when precision is needed, like between joints, stoppers and connections with water pipes. The gutter placed above the corridor will collect a great quantity of rainwater. On one hand it is very useful to fill up the watertank in a very short time during dry season, on the other hand, the setting process needs to be carefully handled to prevent from any dropping through the joints, overlapped one foot.
Opoku’s house is still rising until the fourth level this week. We won’t be able to complete the roof structure though Lara is constantly helping us understanding perfectly how the project is and collaborating with us and Opoku towards main decisions. We are really thankful for her crucial support, right now being so close to the end of our time in Abetenim.
On Tuesday 1.11 and the day after we made the kitchen table with sink and the toilet basin furniture, using 2by2 antitermite treated profiles. In this way, Ata the plumber is able to connect all the water pipes to the facilities soon.
Between Tuesday and Wednesday the carpenters prepared the 4 doors, out of 1by9 boards, with a very simple structure. Short wide horizontal boards to the outside and two vertical supports behind.
The plywood panels for the kitchen and bathroom walls were measured and cutted, then varnished and nailed up.
The panels won’t touch the floor since founding around the site few metal L-section profile, we tought they would exactly fit to make an interval between the plywood and the ground.
From Thursday to Friday 4.11 we asked the carpenters to set up the water tank tower. The structure needs to be enought tall to allow the water flowing at high pressure. Unfortunately, the gutter which is suppose to collect the rainwater cannot reach the right level, because of the roof dimension ad the slope of the pipes from the gutter to the watertank inlet opening. In fact, when the plumber came to check up if everything was ready before start, he noticed that problem and ask us to shorten the structure. In this way, the connection of the tank to the water system will work, though the shower might have some lack of pressure when the tank is not full.
Furthermore, Abu the mason came to cast the concrete chambers for the four joints waste water to the septic tank.
He is going to make more concrete works, like the windowsill, the kitchen and bathroom floors. Abu is an expert and young mason but we haven’t asked him to join us so far because he is also the security guard here at the site, working everyday all night long. By the way, even if we didn’t complain about the work from the first foundations on, we have sometimes noticed certain lack of skills or precision regarding the workers. Indeed, Odas, which is supposed to be the expert mason often seemed to misunderstand the technical reason of certain solutions and how to achieve specific results, such as the importance of laying the stones properly to have the correct load bearing and strenght, which is not given by the concrete mortar itself. Same for the patio concrete floor, the corridor and the bathroom. For instance, he asked us between rough and smooth surfaces. Smooth was the decision but he didn’t use any metal trowel or special tool but wood board, eventually making rough aspect everywhere. Another relevant issue was about the floor slopes, in which he didn’t get the point at all. Of course, the language plays a very important role mistaking the fluent communication, but to make a proper slope to keep the water away from walls must be understood without any explanation. This concern didn’t of course allow us to be too much disappointed since many factors like cultural mindset, volunteering purposes, our young professional background and the respect for people of different context request more complex analysis before any judgments.
More troubles came out between us and the carpenters sometimes. Especially Adyengo whodidn’t want to follow project instructions, prefering his own way of building. In this case the professional lack was more about open-minded dialoque with them, and the importance of achieving a correct result with time and precision instead of a immediate but well thought out result.
Anyway, when we decided to call Abu, he did a great job, understanding perfectly his task.
For the earth kitchen floor he managed to make it smooth using water sponge and metal trowel. Same for the bathroom one, but with only cement mix.
He also made a small step on the backside where to place the staircase going to the corridor and included within the water tank structure.
On Friday 4.11 the eletrician and his assistant visited the project in order to calculate the material, which we will buy next week end, before he can start the work on Monday.
This week we also met the oldest of Abetenim, more than hundred years. However none knows his age, neither the man himself. He still very active to make rafia basket and we took the possibility to greet him and buy some as very special local souvenirs.
Last three weeks before the end of eARThouse2016 workshop. The busy schudele is putting much pressure on time but the main works are about to be completed and only finishings will be left soon.
On Monday 24.10 we went to buy the water tank at one factory around Kumasi and since we are running out of covering sheets we bought more. Actually, we called the truck for the transportation last Saturday, but it broke in Juaben, with no chance to continue farther on and we came back. These are the kind of issues we often face here which make schedules very unpredictable. By the way, this time everything went smothly and we unload the material at the site late in the afternoon. We also brought some wooden boards left to the workshop in Juaben to cut them half and reuse them for the doors, optimizing the cost despite having an unrefined look.
Tuesday 25.10 was a very great day. In fact, the carpenters have completed the roof and the flooring step has also been started! We then continued the floors ramming until Friday 28.10, thanks to Edward, Kofi, Abas, Adamu and Quaquagy. Within the three bedroom we have rammed two layer, using 2% cement content. For this job it took three days, whereas the two open working spaces around the patio need just one day. For these parts, we increased the cement up to 5% of the red soil and sand mix. Since we pack few bags of quarry dust, sifted from foundation stones in the beginning, we decided to use it to have more aggregates range within the mix and reduce the amount of sand, which is almost finished. Same for the fine soil, left from the foundation period too. In total, we added one bucket of quarry dust and two bucket of fine soil to the mixed.
Opoku’s house is also rising fast, even if sometimes there is not so much collaboration with the guys who worked with us, who are kindly offering help to Opoku and ram when formworks are set. Unfortunately, we notice that the sense of volunteering among fellows within the same community, regardless any money the help will bring, isn’t really strong, even though it works very well within the same familiy members. Opoku’s brother are indeed freely contributing a lot on the side of him, aware of how important this house is for Opoku’s wife and children. We hope their motivation can inspire those younger builders like Edward, Kofi and Abas, who don’t seem very aware of their opportunity to develop their communties and spread their business in this field. In fact, the interest around Opoku’s building is increasing a lot, showing how much this techniques can be affordable by any people from any social level around rural villages.
On Wednesday 26.10, after the bonfire night to celebrate Stefano’s sculpture, te transparent sheets were measured, cutted and placed. We also started to set the metal mesh and mosquito net around gables and windows.
Moreover, the babadua screens look very nice, and the people at the village are starting to call this project “Babadua house”. Actually they don’t recognise the value behind this material, even though they know it belongs to their roots. It looks to them as a less value or worse quality feature compared to the rest of this project. We hope that by the end of it, they will identify the babadua richness, which doesn’t comes from its prices but the tradition and the ingenious use made by the ancestors.
Finally, on Friday 28.10 the carpenters started the doors frames, cutting all the pieces needed and placed them properly. The frames are made out of 4″ and 8″ boards, just nailed horizontal on a side and vertical on the other side. The structure looks very easy but strong and it will take no more than three days, hinges and lock included.
Finally, on Saturday 30.10 we spent the all morning at Opoku’s place, setting the formworks for the third out of four levels.
Another week in Abetenim, getting closer and closer to the end of our community project. Monday 17.10 we started to set the transparent sheets to cover all the upper parts of walls and gables. Before doing that we nailed aluminium flashing to avoid any infiltration rainwater.
The red pipe fixed in between 2×3 profile and roofing sheet to reduce rain noise has not been finished yet. In the meantime, the main working space is already covered quite quickly.
Unfortunately, Tuesday 18.10 was time to say goodbye to Luca. He has been working with us for three months, he deserves a huge thanks for his costant and endless effort and calm. Best of luck Luca. We are really going to miss you here.
Opoku’s house is still going on, working half day at the site and half at his place from now on. The second level is almost completed but Opoku’s has got no cement, so we are going to wait until he buys more bags, even if from the third level he will need less, reducing his content from 4% down to 2% within the mix.
As long as the carpenters request wooden boards and profiles, we realized that we will need more 2×3 soon to ensure the roof structure completion. Therefore, the chief’s brother came with the hand saw to cut some 2×6 profile by half. Suddenly the machine broke, only after ten pieces cutted, make us necessarily buy new customized profiles.
This is why during this days the work is running slowly, between less people helping and many small works to do at the same time, missing wood and the dry season which is ready to bring sunny and sweaty days. During spare time we asked Adyengo and Safu to change the door’s frames of the two bedrooms, with better quality and hardness then the one already placed.
On Wednesday 19.10 two artist from Nigeria Edwards and Ellis completed the mural at the Junior High school and we took a look around lunch time. Here is the final result, in our opinion great and powerful drawings, able to inspire creativity and immagination among the all children of Abetenim.
At the site we applied the second coat of white painting to all the windows frames, as well as filling the rooms with red soil, which lasted two days. Opoku and his brother also came to help us in this task.
Before the weekend we prepared few piles of red soil in front of the project to be use for the flooring mix. The cement concrete within the mix will be quite low, 2% for the rooms, 5% on working spaces, kitchen and washroom. Right after compacting the soil filling, it was added a thin layer of sand, stabilized by ramming, to make the level horizontal and hard. After that, the rammed earth floor will constist of 5″ thickness, to be rammed once or twice.
On Thursday we tryed the babadua solar screens on the external frames. Nailing straight to the sticks doesn’t work excellently, because it breaks very easily even with the smallest nails.
Thanks to Stefano’s ingenuity, we came out with another idea, using metal bending wire to hold the ending part of the sticks, weaving it around many pins nailed inbetween the sticks, but not through.
Another test was around the openings solution, with metal mesh and mosquito net, which is the most popular method in this country, against insect and mosquito entrata.
The metal mesh we are using has small square pattern whereas the net behind will be the black type. Outside, at the bottom, some babadua sticks will protect the lower part from the rainwater.
On Friday 21.10 there was enough time to set some 2×3 wooden boards and complete the structure, as well as more roofing sheets above the single bedroom.
At Opoku’s place, the second level is already finished. He asked the carpenter to collect three doors frame and three windows frame too, but they don’t match each other and they have different dimensions. Therefore, we helped him to cut those frames, likewise adding the anchor strings through the rammed layers to lock the wood within the earth wall.
On Saturday 22.10 we changed some wrapped bags around the formworks and sewed new ones. Fortunately, founding few frames here at the site of Nka, we tought it was worthwhile to ask Frank to donate two frames to Opoku, in order to allow him to save money and time, and he warmly agreed that.
As soon as the backside trusses were done, the carpenters moved to the front to complete the small ones covering the two working spaces. The design is slightly different since we are trying to use less wooden boards and save time and money, and the structure will not be affected by this reduction in term of load bearing capacity.
On Monday 10.10 the big working space on the right side of the entrance has been covered. The day after, it was time for the other smaller space on the left side which will be used either as working space or living room, just near the kitchen.
Before raising the pillars facing the patio space, it was necessary to get a trotro to Kumasi and buy longer bolts for the metal feet joints. Sometimes, tracing tools and even basic working equipment like long screws, bolt and nots, might becomes tricky and stressful here. Many stores between Juaben, Ejisu and Efiduase, the closest towns to Abetenim, usually sell the same products. Unfortunately the construction market here and throughout the whole country is very standardised and monopolised by foreign companies. Moreover, imported materials are cheaper, thus, in the end, people can only buy limited object with no many choices.
This week the team have set up the timber framing for bathroom and kitchen walls, made out of 2×3 profiles and a plywood covering panels.
On Tuesday 11.10 the first layer of Opoku’s house has been finished!
After that we came back to site to carry few barrows of soil for the floors filling and some stones to level the bottom of the pad foundations for the water tank tower.
During the afternoon, Adyengo the carpenter led us to the metal sheets shop in Kumasi, where we decided to buy red corrugated alluminium metal, cups and gutters as well as some transparent sheet.
On Thursday 20.10 the team prepared again few formworks for concrete pourings of bathroom floor, the outside corridor and the sidewalk around the patio, which are all schedule for the next day.
The same day, prof. Mantey came to visit us back again and to stay for few days to organise the artistic symposium with Ellis, Edward and Stefano.
The strong enthusiasm shown by these guys is bringing back new life and energy to the Arts Village, which is otherwise an empty space with any artistic activities going on. Thanks to them we could interact with crossing cultural backgrounds, listening and seeing different expressions of art and life. We also look forward to enjoy the mural they are painting on the Junior school at the village, commissioned by Frank Appiah, as the principal of the all schools of Abetenim.
Friday, everybody was ready at 6 am, for a long and strenuous working day, like any single day here since 4 months ago, to be honest! But the deadline is so close that we cannot give up now to complete the project on time.
We spent almost 5 hours to pour the concrete everywhere, checking the right slopes to channel the water down properly. Odas, the same mason who worked with us during the foundations, did it quite fast and restless. The final result is yet to be unfolded. We are now going to wait about two days and start to work again on finishings.
The roof covering, as first concept, was made by natural material such as bamboo or rafia palm. As mentioned before, unfortunately, due to long maintenance work and time matter, it has been decided to buy metal sheets, aware that it won’t bring any advantages in terms of living confort, like cooling and acoustic insulation. On one hand this decision makes us embittered, on the other hand it represents another challenge. In fact, matal coverings are the most popular trend Ghana nowadays. What we wish to achieve is mainly the reduction of noise during heavy rains, while the heating can be prevented by a light ceiling. We then bought few yards of gardening pipe, to be half cut and placed in between the roof structure an the metal sheets. It should help absorbing the drop noise as an acoustic membrane, but we will not discover it until the next rainstorm!
During the week-end, we moved to Opoku’s place and kept on ramming half second level. More updates are coming soon..
eARThouse2016 is about to start a new step! Adyengo and Safu are the carpenters chosen for the roofing. They came on Monday to partially set up the scaffolding and understand the job they are going to face during the next period, always closer to the deadline. Measuremens of slopes and peaks are taken, as well as the anti-termite treatment all over the wooden planks done, using an hand pump machine.
In the meanwhile we took all the measurement of the wooden plates too, 2 by 9 inches section, to be laid on top of the rammed walls, to bear and spread the roof loads. Many things need to be taken into account. For instance, pipes for power sockets were placed randomly through the wall section, due to a lack of precision while ramming. Moreover, during the last layer of rammed earth, we added some wood and string as anchor system for the roof. These features will need many holes on the planks where to pass through.
On Monday 3 we completed the patio walls and carried a pile of red soil in front of the project for the next flooring step.
After small upgrading works to the formworks, they were moved to Opoku’s house. Recycling the empty cement bag, Luca studied his own “patent” to wrap and tie them off around the metal formworks. He basically folds the bags behind the edges of the metal formworks, then sews them with needle and string and tight everything well.
Friday 7, Opoku’s house has being started! In two days the rammers quickly built 4 pieces. Many thanks to Edward, Abas, Kofi, Olu, Opoku and his brothers. His family is so much excited and we are also grateful and glad to help him as long as we can.
This new project is not between us and Nka Foundation. In fact, his time we, as LOAD, decided to work in collaboration with Mr. Frank Appiah, the community coordinator and Prof. Mantey, lecturer at KNUST, again along with us to go through this experience in Abetenim.
On Wednesday 5 we complete all the wall wooden plate, emboding all the pipes and locking string coming up from the wall. It was then necessary to join the plates together in order to create a tight ring to balance all the tension from the roof loads.
We discuss together about shape, angle and details regarding the trusses, which are made out of 2 by 6 inches profile for the primary structure and 2 by 3 inches for the secondary. As soon as we decided the whole design, including the overhang roof about 30 inches out of the walls and the peak height set at 6 feet from the top of the wooden bearing plate, it was time to cut the pieces and join them together before rising them up and nail the structure. In this way, half work is done on ground by us and half by the carpenters on top. In nearly 3 days, from Thursday 6 to Saturday 8, the three big trusses above the bedrooms were fixed!
In the beginning of this week new people came to stay at the Art village of Abetenim. First Lara, a german girl from Stuttgart, who will volunteer for the next 4 months. Further, a small group of artist gathered here and led by Prof. Mantey will schedule different activities, paintings and sculptures. Stefano, land artist from Italy, Ellis and his brother Edward from Nigeria are part of this group.
Unfortunately, as new friends come, others are leaving. Gina deserved a big bonfire for her last night at Abetenim! Thanks Ginao’.
During the “spare time” in between the roofing, Addyengo and Safu prepared some frames for the external walls facing the working spaces, which will be shaded with babadua sticks further on.
These frames are fixed to the vertical walls by screws and self-tapping screw stoppers and they work quite well since walls are enough hard.
On Sunday 9 we were back to work on Opoku’s site. As mentioned before, the ramming goes quickly and allows us to expect a very short construction schedule. Therefore, we will definetely do our best to complete it before leaving from Ghana. Many people came to visit Opoku and questioned us about the project details with much interest.
The hope for an entire long-term development of local living conditions is still getting very strong, but it can become reality only when the community can rely on humble, determined and open-minded people such as Opoku.
On the 28th of September we rammed the last small piece of earth! After 6 weeks of hard and restless work this step has succesfully been done! Thanks to all workers and volunteers who putted so much effort into building that with us!
Linda, Paolo and Beatrice left the site on Tuesday morning. We wish them all the best for the future. We really enjoyed your generous and amusing company guys!
On Wednesday we took advantage of sunny weather and short time available after lunch to set up the wooden formworks within the patio and to pour the concrete on it. The mix was enought liquid to spread it all around the casting just with shovels. Before that, some iron bars were measured and bend as reinforcements, then layed down at the right distance.
During the day we even designed the structure for the water tank tower, to be placed at the back side, close to the end of the corridor in order to collect much rainwater from the gutters.
Thursday 29 the wood sellers finally delivered all the planks we ordered. The wood looks very hard but way heavier than we expect. We should manage to cut it easily on ground and set it up on top, following the suggestions of carpenter Adyyengo and Safu.
In the meantime, the team fixed all the windows and doors frames which were out of size compared to the walls heights. This was due to the developing process of our working and changes we did while ramming the walls. The first concept considered 6 levels of ramming. However, we relized it was almost impossible to reach that height, taking the decision to reduce it until the 5th. At the end, this implicate fixing all the frames according to the new walls dimension.
The day after, we packed the wood, protecting it from the rain. In fact, the wet season is still making troubles, especially to the infrastructures in these rural villages, and this was also the reason why the wood delivering delayed almost 10 days.
Opoku is really excited about his new house and can’t wait for starting. The formoworks upgrade is done and we are almost ready to carry them down to his place. He is helping us nearly every days collection babadua canes from the forest around, though we will probably need more to complete the four facades.
Saturday was not a day off for the team, since the concrete into the patio walls was enough dry to start ramming on top. The new formoworks system allow us to use it in every foundations type, with different thickness. The L section is not used any more, but only the straight pieces, offset them to make a strong corner joint. This was actually a test for the next Opoku’s project, and it worked quite well.
More updates are about to be published very soon!
This ought to be the last week of ramming! It has started with the strongest willing of seeing the walls done and to begin the roofing, though the wood is yet to be delivered here at the site.
Dr. Mantey, our consultant and friend from the Art Department of KNUST is coming to the site very often, always kept up to date about the working progress.
This time he came with his son and his son’s drone. The children were crazy about it, laughing and shouting all over the time. It was a great chance to see the village from the sky down and take some amazing pictures of the project.
All together we went to Opoku’s house. Surprisingly, Mantey already met the guy almost two years ago, when they both collaborated with Anna Webster, an english student who organised a workshop with Nka at the site to build a sustainable housing prototype. He remembered Opk and his strong interest in earth building techniques such as rammed earth. After that experience he sold the cement blocks he made for a new house to use rammed earth instead. However, the timber formworks are still quite expensive and he couldn’t afford them. He now realizes the metal formworks actually reduces the overall cost, plus red soil and small cement sand which are still very affordable.
On Wednesday morning we also tested different method to avoid plastic wrapped formworks . It was time for lubricant, that we found at the fitting shop in Juaben, which can be quickly sprayed on the internal surface before ramming each layer. The result was better than any other oil but not excellent. Further, it is not environmental and cheaper, then barely to be reproduced by locals.
The next day we went to the forest along with Opk to cut and start collecting some babadua canes. The forest can sometimes be hostile if you are not called Opoku, who felt way more comfortable and trained than us to recognize babadua in between all that dense vegetation and to walk and jump through it.
Friday 23, Mattia, Sara, Linda and Paolo came back to the forest to cut more babadua, though the project will need a lot to cover many parts of windows and external walls that we left no rammed on purpose.
The 4th level is finally done and the team started the T section up to the last level. 2 T sections done on Friday and, unless the rain stop us, we will finish the walls early next week.
After a day off, we had to arrange more space within the patio to ram the sidewalk walls all over the perimeter. We dug the top soil out and brought more red soil, then compacted it to have a strong and stabilezed level.
Back to work on Sunday, changing the formwork sections from T to L and I, in order to start quikly the next day. We took lot of time to clean up and change the plastics. Likewise, we tested different surfaces inside the formwork, using solid tape and empty cement bags as an alternative to the plastic sheets. After that, we tried to ram two pieces and the result was not so bad though.
Monday 12 it was Muslim holiday, this is why we didn’t work but the village was very crowded and loud, so we took a walk around.
Thanks to Mr. Frank we met Opk, a man who is building a small house for his family at Abetenim. He has already started the concrete foundations but he ran out of money and stopped. However, he is now willing to continue the construction and Frank is convincing him to use rammed earth. Actually, Opk worked two years ago here at the site for another project, designed by Anna Webster. During that period he got interested in this earth technique, this is why he agrees to build his building in that way.
We all came out with the decision to help him before leaving, bringing the metal formworks there as soon as we finish the walls. A new challenge has been taken up but we strongly believe that the distance between the Nka Foundation’s site and the village needs to be reduced, as well as the rammed earth technique to be exported among people as an affordable method, nothing special made by foreigners and far from their possibilities but local and already in their cultural background. Opk’s rammed earth house will hopefully set and spread a new standard of living, achievable through a cheap, sustainable community building process.
It was very inspiring to noticed with Frank how some old structures at the village had ceilings and walls made out of babadua, a local plant similar to bamboo but thinner. The sticks were tied and used combined with red earth. Compared to other plants, babadua endures more against termites and outdoors, this is the reason why it was traditionally used in the past. We will definetely try to reuse this material and add it into our design.
This week a new worker came to help us, called Bogie. The guys are becoming tired but they are strong and the work will be finished very soon. In fact, the 4th level was completed and the 5th level started on Friday 16.
Opk came to the site to see the formworks and the whole setting process.
Moreover, we are waiting for the 2×6 inches wooden boards we ordered last week, to start cutting the structural frameworks of the roofing.
Unfortunately the rain is threatening us more during the last period, wasting some working days, even though August was the wettest month in this region and it didn’t rain very often.
On Sunday 18 there was enough free time to visit a bit more the sorroundings. Many beautyful places can be reached in few minutes from Abetenim. An interested spot for its wildlife is called Bobiri. As a forest reserve , it is well known for the several butterfly species you can watch there, as well as the tour of old trees, many of them about 100 years old and even more. Despite it was not the right season for butterflies, the guided visit was worth it a lot.