The Department of Human Settlements at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts’ School of Architecture, Design, and Conservation has developed a new low-income housing prototype for Maputo, Mozambique in southeast Africa as part of the Casas Melhoradas research project. The prototype reinterprets the area’s traditional “Casa de Madeira e Zinco,” which is made of wood and corrugated iron sheets, and the “Casa de Blocos,” which is composed of concrete blocks. .
The design features “a heavy first floor concrete base with a light two-storey wooden house on top,” with outdoor balconies that provide “a social transition zone between inside and out.” In addition, the prototype utilized local sustainable wood as well as local carpenters and craftsmen to construct and assemble the prefabricated elements.
The Casas Melhoradas research project seeks to improve physical living conditions for low-income groups in slum areas “characterized by housing of poor structural quality, inadequate access to social and technical infrastructure, overcrowding, and insecure tenure.” Through affordable rental housing, the hope of the project is to “facilitate the development of more compact urban environments,” and make “future infrastructure investments more cost-effective.”
Thus, the project hopes to counter Maputo’s rapid horizontal growth, which has led to unplanned urban developments and limited infrastructure like paved streets, sewage, electricity, and storm water management.