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Buildings & architecture

New methods and means enable cheap construction with greater comfort. With a new guest house we want to show the possibilities and effects that can be achieved with brick production on site.

Bauprojekte

Bauprojekte

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 What it is about? 

Most of the houses in Donomadé are traditional adobe buildings with a thatched roof. These buildings are ecological and relatively cool. But they also mean a lot of maintenance, are prone to rain and fire and only allow very limited designs. Last but not least, this type of construction is associated with poverty and backwardness for the people in Togo. The only alternative that can be found are houses made of cement and corrugated iron. Although these are more robust than clay, they are not ecological and have a significantly poorer indoor climate.

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The conventional construction allows little quality of life.

Cement production alone accounts for 7% of global CO2 emissions. The construction sector is facing major ecological challenges. With our crowdfunding projects, we support brick construction, which is used to build inexpensive and ecological houses that have a significantly higher quality of living than cement huts. The loam soil can also be extracted and pressed on site. So much less material is transported around and unnecessary costs can be saved. 

 What should be achieved? 

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Sustainability beyond agriculture.

Not only in agriculture, but also in construction, we try to achieve ecological modernization with local resources, which in the long term represents a better quality of life for the regional population and promotes added value in the region. In addition, the farm itself should convey a positive charisma of innovation, departure and sustainability through an appealing and functional architecture and a coherent overall plan and combine the various elements and activities of the farm to a large and whole. The system should be planned and built in such a way that it appears organic and promotes a fruitful exchange between the various interest groups on site. On the farm, people work, sell, demonstrate, research, teach, live, discuss, dream and relax, and accordingly infrastructure, rooms and places are needed that enable and promote these activities.

Building with pressed and stabilized adobe bricks

We build with pressed clay bricks from local, clayey soil, to which approx. 8 percent by volume of cement is buried. This is ecological, inexpensive, innovative, flexible and can be implemented with the village population. The moisture-regulating properties of the earth blocks enable a pleasant room climate and protect against mold. During the construction of the warehouse, we already gained our first experience with building with pressed clay bricks, a construction method that convinced us.

Training of local bricklayers to set up the farm's own brick factory

We were able to purchase our own brick press, test it in Zurich and ship it to Togo. This is the cornerstone for building a local brick factory on the FeMoDo model and research farm. Local masons in the village are trained in the production of the bricks as well as in building with the mud bricks. For this we work together with the Shechem farm in Togo.

 Clay brick production in pictures 

 Well supported and sustainably secured 

Cement-free construction

Cement-free construction

We are exchanging ideas with Gnanli Landrou, a PhD researcher from the innovative start-up Oxara in Zurich, which wants to revolutionise earthen construction. They have developed a mineral-based binder that might enable us in the future to press bricks completely without the climate-polluting cement.

Promoting young talent.

Promoting young talent.

Dosseh SOKEGBE, an extraordinarily motivated young man from the village, has actively supported us. He wants to study civil engineering and is very interested in brickmaking. We will accompany him in his education and in parallel he will do an apprenticeship on the farm and be involved in all construction activities, so that in the long run he can lead the construction projects on the farm and in the region.

Adapted architecture

Adapted architecture

Daniel Baumann, an architect with around 30 years of planning and building experience, is supporting the project on a voluntary basis. He supports us in the overall planning of the area and in the development of sensible solutions for cost-effective, climate-friendly construction adapted to the region. He plans and draws the upcoming construction projects, in exchange with the experts in Togo.

An own clay pit

An own clay pit

We have obtained a piece of land in the village where we can now mine enough clay for the upcoming construction projects.

Experimental garden

Experimental garden

We have set up a small experimental garden where we test different building methods with the various forms of clay bricks and expose them to the weather. Thus, different wall schemes, foundations, openings, covers, arches and others are tried out. The aim is to find simple and functional solutions for the upcoming buildings, to make the construction method tangible for visitors and to show how ecological construction can be integrated into agriculture in a meaningful way.

Implementation

Implementation

As our first implementation project, we are building a residential building for about 30 people, where we can accommodate employees, researchers, trainees and other visitors. The sustainable construction method with pressed clay bricks is not only ecologically sensible, but also cost-effective and enables a pleasant indoor climate. Local workers are integrated and professionally trained during the construction phase. The residential house can become a model for future buildings in the village.

 With crowd funding support 

The second crowdfunding with the support of the wemakeit climate fund has been successfully completed.

For the further development of the farm's own brick factory and the coming construction projects, we are dependent on further donations. We launched a second crowdfunding on October 31, which is again supported by the wemakeit climate fund with CHF 25,000. 220 donors have donated CHF 31,613, with the contribution from wemakeit that makes a total of CHF 56,613! Many thanks to everyone for their generous support.  You have helped  that sustainable building can be realized in the region.

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