How Angelika Nyboe Andersen moved from fashion to building some of Zambia's greenest buildings

“Fashion has sort of given me a good foundation for construction. It has surprisingly all come together.”

From fashion on London’s High Street to a building development in Lusaka, Zambia, Angelika Nyboe Andersen’s journey is an unconventional one.

Born and raised in Zambia then trained in fashion buying in the United Kingdom, Nyboe Andersen had her mind set on opening an African design store in London. When she moved to Zambia in 2009, she figured it could be done there too. But she ended up using her design savvy in a different industry: sustainable construction.

“l see construction from a fashion point of view, and l enjoy the creative side,” she explains in a feminine, authoritative voice. “Fashion has sort of given me a good foundation for construction. It has surprisingly all come together.”

Nyboe Andersen is the managing director of Foxdale Court, an office block in Lusaka that is also the greenest building in Zambia.

Foxdale Court

One of only two sustainably designed buildings in the landlocked country, Foxdale Court features a rainwater harvesting system that services both sanitation and irrigation; a waste management system in which the building separates its own waste, and energy-saving devices such as motion detectors, solar geysers and fluorescent light tubes.

Unveiled to the public in 2013, the medium-sized building is inconspicuous at first glance. But in its look and feel, Nyboe Andersen aimed to capture what it was like to work in London. “I decided to re-create that environment where there is life and activity and soul to the building,” she adds.

And its goal, she says, is to be a role model for sustainable design practices in Africa. “At Foxdale Court we have taken an initiative to expose children and classes of students to green tours like the solar plant (currently the largest in Zambia) and waste management activities,” she says, adding: “All these things are long-term but we hope that their behaviour becomes second nature to go green and realise that there is another way of doing things. We also encourage adults to introduce different bins in their homes and recycle more often.”

Foxdale Forest Green Home in Zambia

In the next phase of her journey, Nyboe and her business partners plan to establish Foxdale Forest, a green housing development on a leafy piece of land 6 kilometres from Foxdale Court.

“….homes that are off-grid or at least have back up from solar power and things like rainwater harvesting system,” she explains. “So we are working together with the Zambian Environmental Agency, National Construction Council and the ILO Zambian Green Jobs program who are following the project quite closely because it sets a new precedence in the country.

"We get our hands very dirty, which is really exciting and we will be launching the project in 2018 so watch the space."

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