Throughout Central Africa, it is not uncommon to see worn-down buildings that appear to have been through decades of use, but in reality are only a few years old. Contributing factors to this include a lack of qualified manpower in modern construction, tropical weather with extreme humidity and tight budgets for maintenance, to name a few.
A new building under construction in the northern reaches of the Democratic Republic of Congo is, however, overcoming these difficulties and leading the way in socially and environmentally sustainable architecture. As part of the FORETS project, led by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and funded by the European Union, the company R&SD has partnered with the University of Kisangani (UNIKIS) to coordinate the construction of a 2500sqm building at the university’s Faculty of Sciences.
The building, expected to be operational by January 2019, is designed for longevity despite the harsh climate. “The design of the building’s roof, which is equipped with an efficient system to evacuate water, sunshades and a ventilation system, offers excellent resistance to bad weather such as heavy rain, aggressive sunstroke or very high humidity levels,” explains Quentin Ducenne, R&SD’s Managing Director and project manager.
At the beginning of construction, architects realised that local workers did not have the skills set to carry out the project. The decision was made to invest in increasing local capacity, and the project now employs over 40 local workers newly trained in innovative and modern construction techniques.