Sandbag housing solution opens doors for home ownership in Nakuru

Design organisation, Orkistudio has created a sustainable housing alternative for Kenyan locals while providing a platform to increase family incomes.

For most people, owning a home in a developing country like Kenya is near impossible simply because it’s too expensive. There are not many options available – if you don’t own a house, you are subject to high rent and unreliable lease agreements. Now, humanitarian design organisation Orkidstudio is looking to help with its Nakuru and 1k House projects, which aim to train Nakuru-county locals in earthbag construction and implement the development of sustainable earthbag houses.

Before any building could begin, Orkidstudio sought to change the community’s negative perception of earthen building materials as symbols of a backward society. According to the website, team members initiated the Nakuru project by “presenting earth as a modern technology, far superior in economic, environmental and aesthetic terms, and with much greater accessibility and ease of use.
Driven by social change through innovative architecture and construction, Orkidstudio taught a group of over 40 locals the earthbag construction technique, which has now been shared with others in the community.
The second phase of the development is the 1k House project, which is the first sandbag and wood house prototype to go up in the community. The model costs 1000 pounds to build, half the cost of building a standard concrete or brick house in the area. Despite this substantial improvement in construction costs, the organisation is aware that this is still too expensive for locals and has devised a way of increasing family incomes.
Orkidstudio is calling the pilot construction Hellen’s House because it is intended for local, Hellen Nyambura Kamau and her family. The organisation says the family dwelling will “double as a show-home for Hellen to develop, along with a team from the local community,” and act as an “earthbag construction business, delivering homes for others across the area, creating a unique opportunity for income generation.”