codesignlab builds a low-cost and off-grid housing prototype in cameroon

codesignlab builds a low-cost and off-grid housing prototype in cameroon

developed in cameroon by codesignlab, the african fabbers house (AFH) is a low-cost and off-grid housing initiative entirely designed and fabricated in africa. the project has been realized in a bid to provide accommodation for the huge population that is still living in slums. after years of post-colonial studies on architecture and design, the team investigates the possibility of creating a ‘local industry’ for ecological habitats across the continent. the scheme bridges the main concepts of the tremendous heritage of african vernacular design with the 70’s experience of the tropical house of j. prouvé.

all images courtesy of codesignlab



the project by codesignlab follows an applied research agenda developed in collaboration with the african fabbers school, within the framework of the camon project. the design and fabrication processes are developed in cameroon in collaboration with the COE and the laba/douala through a number of training programs with local students, craftsman and partners. the aim of the initiative is to explore a new-vernacular design as a paradigm for advanced manufacturing towards sustainable construction systems, which should create circular economies in the african context.



the housing prototype is conceived as a flexible space for sustainable living and self-producing, completely realized with local material systems easy to assemble, customise and replicate. the built prototype is the result of a theory by practice applied research for a new vernacular architecture: off-grid, affordable and ecological. therefore, the wooden interlocked primary structure provides a fast deployment modular approach touching lightly the ground.



the roof is conceived for collecting water and energy integrating photovoltaic panels. the façade system is designed as a porous skin providing passive cooling ventilation. these construction components were realized with a digital fabricated panelling system combining different natural materials such as wood, ceramics and bamboo.



the whole design-to-build process bridges traditional and informal local techniques with digital prefabrication with the aim to develop local industries for ecological architecture in africa. the next step will focus on improving the environmental performances of the prototype while implementing scalable configurations to be developed with local and international institutions. this with the aim to respond to the needs for affordable and ecological habitat in the african context.



the african fabbers school is the first school of urban ecologies, self-construction and digital fabrication in africa. after many case studies realized between ghana, morocco, senegal, burkina faso and mali, ASF is now based in douala in cameroon, in partnership with the COE and with the support of the AICS (italian ministry of foreign affairs).



project info:


project name: african flabbers house

location: cameroon

architecture firm: codesignlab

architects: paolo cascone, marilena laddaga

digital design: elena ciancio

fabrication team: thrésor michel ndasse, danielle kengne, benoit joseph, balla owona, julien mbida, zanga, dieudonné ambang, jean ernest kenmogne, claire laure dongmo, charlie, landry tamba sohmbe, christelle domwa, benoit valery kamdoum, françois joël siazeu youmbi, cédric ongong atouba, francis tiemeni ongong


designboom has received this project from our ‘DIY submissions‘ feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project submissions from our readers here.


edited by: lynne myers | designboom

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