rammed earth, brick, and sandstone compose '32° east arts center' in kampala, uganda

rammed earth, brick, and sandstone compose '32° east arts center' in kampala, uganda

phase one completes for 32° east arts center in kampala 

 

32° East Arts Center is Kampalas first purpose-built community arts space and new home of 32° East | Ugandan Arts Trust, a non-profit promoting East African artists and contemporary art. Having officially opened following a launch on March 23, 2023, the rammed earth and earth brick arts hub will serve as a welcoming and inclusive space where the local artist community and visitors can work, socialize, gather, and exchange ideas. The project will be delivered in two phases by London-based architecture practice New Makers Bureau in collaboration with Kampala-based multidisciplinary firm Localworks.

 

The launch marks the completion of phase one, which has been seven years in the making and has included on-site consultation with the 32° East artist community throughout. Phase one comprises four artist studios, a library (the only specialist art library in Uganda), restrooms, and a flexible café, which will function as an interim gallery and workspace until phase two completes by the end of 2024. The latter includes a gallery with mezzanine, four artist guest rooms, two artist studios, offices, kiosks, and a walled courtyard garden.

rammed earth, brick, and sandstone compose '32° east arts center' in kampala, uganda
image © Timothy Latim

 

 

an inclusive artist space by new makers bureau +  localworks 

 

Flexibly designed and fully accessible, the 32° East Arts Center is situated on a slope in Kabalagala, a central district of Kampala, and arranged around a shaded, step-free courtyard. The New Makers Bureau team and Localworks (see more here) opted for this layout to create a visual connection between all spaces while offering amenities for social gatherings and an overspill for the making and display of larger works.

 

Interested artists can benefit from these programs by subscribing to three-month residencies, renting studios, or exhibiting their works in a gallery. ‘It will be a dynamic space, providing diverse experiences that engage different audiences and give them opportunities to interact with artists and the art scene in the region. It is also hoped that the project will ensure the financial stability of 32° East | Ugandan Arts Trust, through income-generating spaces designed in phase two, including the operational café, kiosks, and rented studios. The project envisages a self-sustaining village or campus of symbiotic uses,’ writes New Makers Bureau.

rammed earth, brick, and sandstone compose '32° east arts center' in kampala, uganda
image © Timothy Latim

 

 

sourcing locally: a circular economy building model 

 

32° East Arts Center is a radical departure from the nonprofit’s former home, a campus of four shipping containers. Indeed, the single-story, low-carbon building is hyper-local; the architects looked to what was available on site and shaped a space that follows key principles of the circular economy.

 

More specifically, two redundant buildings were demolished, and their leftover materials were used for fill and as aggregate to support the art hub’s structure made of rammed earth and earth bricks. The team extracted the rich, red-colored soil directly from the site and sifted and pressed it into blocks. Felix Holland from Localworks led the process, operating as the main contractor. Beyond that, the design takes its cues from Kampala’s built environment and atmosphere, for example, in its lintels from concrete cast against corrugated metal – a ubiquitous local material. The building foundations comprise solid local sandstone, while local eucalyptus timber supports the rammed earth formwork and composes the roof shingles.

rammed earth, brick, and sandstone compose '32° east arts center' in kampala, uganda
image © Timothy Latim

 

 

low-carbon, energy efficient, and climate-focused 

 

With Kampala located on the equator, minimizing solar gain and creating shaded and cool spaces were of top priority. That said, the 32° East Arts Center incorporates strategies to temper the intensity of the sun, with the use of slim polycarbonate roof lights for natural daylighting, shutters prioritized over glazed windows, a sweeping roof to provide shade to the courtyard, and a bespoke textured open brick ‘hit and miss’ in the facade to create dappled light. Working on a budget, the project team has managed to restrict carbon in construction, use and decommissioning and avoid mechanical systems for ventilation and cooling through passive techniques, which will also reduce running and maintenance costs.

 

A series of strata in the elevations references the steep topography of the site: a solid local sandstone base with rammed earth above and then textured brick mediating between walls and roof. Meanwhile, expressive roof forms have been designed to float above the building; the large roof overhangs provide shade and protect the earth walls below from heavy rain. Horizontal tile details to the rammed earth walls provide further protection. The roof pitch sets at an angle across the plan – lifting to the highest point to create a clear entrance to the building and give the individual elements direction. This simple twist creates a gentle curve in the roof trusses and a dynamic ceiling in the main space.

rammed earth, brick, and sandstone compose '32° east arts center' in kampala, uganda
image © Timothy Latim

 

 

The art hub can be accessed by vehicle or foot and is adjacent to a large local green space and residential areas. New Makers Bureau has designed built-in seating on the courtyard perimeter to encourage impromptu social moments and pauses, and window seats are strategically positioned inside to offer views over the nearby green space.

 

Phase one of the building has been funded by the Sigrid Rausing Trust, Outset Contemporary Art Fund, The African Arts Trust, Arts Collaboratory, Mercedes Vilardell, Linda Mutesi, Shayna Robinson, Susan Rosenberg, and John Lazar, Allison and Geoff Ng, Veghte Family, with in-kind support from Roofings Group, who provided materials, and New Makers Bureau, who worked on a pro-bono basis.

rammed earth, brick, and sandstone compose '32° east arts center' in kampala, uganda
image © Timothy Latim

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image © Timothy Latim

rammed earth, brick, and sandstone compose '32° east arts center' in kampala, uganda
image © New Makers Bureau

rammed earth, brick, and sandstone compose '32° east arts center' in kampala, uganda
image © New Makers Bureau

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image © Timothy Latim

 

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project info:

 

name: 32° East Arts Center

location: Plot 212, Block 245, Kiuliriza, Kampala, Uganda

client: 32° East | Ugandan Arts Trust@32degreeseast

architecture: New Makers Bureau | @newmakersbureau 

design team: James Hampton (project architect), Laura Keay 

local architect-engineer, cost consultant, main contractor: Felix Holland – Localworks | @localworksug

site area: 470 sqm

gross internal area: 160 sqm 

start date: July 2021

phase 1 opening: March 23, 2023 

phase 2 completion: End 2024

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