My Dream Hut

My Dream Hut
By []Lamaro Schoenleber

I used to be a closet hut-lover, but I recently came out and confessed my love for huts outright. I am not the only one. Huts are making a come-back in many parts of Africa as a stylish yet affordable shelter option.

I have secretly admired huts ever since I was old enough to form an independent opinion. I just could not say it out loud for fear of being termed backward. Indeed, everyone in Africa wants a large stone house with a corrugated iron-sheet roof or a tiled roof. It is the best way to prove that one has made it financially.

My dream hut would be larger than they were in the past, with a higher roof. For a single person without children, one large structure could be sufficient. Indoor partitions could be an option to divide living areas, or a modern living design where living areas flow into each other could be applied.

Another option would be to combine two huts, which would face each other, with a wide corridor in-between. This could be a very effective design for the hospitality industry. Each hut would function as a guest room, with a middle wide corridor converted into a shared bathroom area. Many lodges and guest houses for tourists already use some form of a hut concept for guest residences. An even more sophisticated idea would be a combination of four huts in the shape of a clover leaf, all under one roof or under a series of roofs. This would provide enough space for cooking, sleeping and daytime activities.

This concept can further be refined to produce an amalgam of circular half-huts intersecting into each other with different level intersecting roofs.

A simple but very effective design I have seen used with great effect is a pentagonal or hexagonal hut. Unlike the blue print hut, this variation has corners. It is very effective when used as a classroom, with a window in each of the five or six sides. The result is an airy building with lots of light streaming in. The learners can sit in a horse-shoe all facing the teacher, unlike the usual row formation. This is a much more learner-friendly and interactive information exchange setting. Moreover, having a hut all to oneself, separate from the others, (instead of being part of a long block of classrooms) makes the class feel very special.

The only drawback to the above-mentioned designs is the creation of corners. The whole point of having a hut is a corner-free philosophy. Think of all the negative things you know about corners. We talk of being in a corner (which means being trapped) or being cornered (which is a very bad situation indeed!) Someone who cuts corners is unscrupulous and unworthy of trust.

Living in a hut instead of in a house is all about a free-flowing, smooth approach to life, without getting stuck in unpleasant and unprogressive places (like corners). Indeed, it removes the option of having to cut corners.

The real challenge in building a hut is finding low-maintenance materials that do not compromise the eco-friendly virtue of a hut. After all, the whole point of choosing a hut over a house is to benefit from the natural wellness quality of clay and other earth materials.

Clay is an approved building material, but may have to be processed to ensure increased durability. An architectural team in Switzerland is experimenting with grinding the clay so that all the particles achieve the same texture, and mixing varieties of clay in order to reinforce it and to derive new natural colours. The wet clay is then applied in subsequent layers over a skeletal support, and watered repeatedly to increase its strength. Clay increases in strength as it dries. A concept using reinforced sun-dried clay bricks could be another option.

Choosing the right roofing materials is the next challenge. The traditional grass thatch requires frequent renewal, and may harbour forms of life. I have nothing against a living roof, but my pet phobias do. The alternative is to treat the grass with a deterrent that eradicates the afore-mentioned life, but that goes directly against the eco-friendly philosophy of living in a hut. One solution would be to keep the living roof, but have protection under the roof to keep the eco-systems thriving in the roof out of the living space within. Some people use plastic sheeting for this, or a thin metal sheeting. A layer of tiles beneath the grass roof may appeal more to the eco-builder. One can also experiment with different varieties of grass, straw or rushes, which may be less hospitable to other forms of life.

Come to think of it, a roof of tiles – preferably red – on a clay hut is also very chic. Such a roof could also host solar panels, such that the home is energy self-sufficient. It must be admitted of course, that it is quite a variation on the theme. Huts can be wired for electricity, fitted with plumbing or installed with other conveniences for modern living without undue obstacles. Having said the above, I must add that a hut can still be a very practical shelter alternative even if one must sacrifice on eco-friendliness in the interests of pragmatism.

My favourite fantasy is to have a large, wide hut (finished inside and out in white river clay) with a high well-trimmed roof. The roof would be of a flattened rather than very peaked design, and would be the pale gold colour of natural dried grass or straw. Or I might settle instead for a series of huts, arranged in steps like a Japanese garden. Add to that a green lawn all around, a couple of mango and avocado trees and an adult swing, from where I can watch the sun set as I sip something refreshing out of a calabash.

My name is Lamaro Schoenleber. I am female, African, and live in Germany with my husband. I hold a doctorate in Clinical Psychology and remain active as a therapist and researcher, though currently battling a life-changing and debilitating chronic illness. I am attached to Mbarara university of Science and Technology as a lecturer and researcher into clinical and educational Psychology.

I love to write, especially about real life situations mostly related to Psychology, Literature and Language.

I am also very keen to attract attention and possible aid to my two pet universities (Mbarara University of Science and Technology and Gulu University) both in Uganda. They are two small state universities which are doing amazing work, and need all the help they can get. Please stay tuned for an upcoming website with more information, and blogs on my favourite topics.

I used to be merely knowledgeable, but due to my own experiences with chronic (and maybe eventually terminal) illness, migration, forced migration due to war, therapy and teaching experiences, I have discovered a depth of experience that adds real life confirmation to knowledge. This has proved to be persuasive to a lot of people, including my patients. In my opinion, knowledge is most persuasive when it gets personal, and this is what I try to do in my writing.

Article Source: [] My Dream Hut

Francis Gichuhi (692 Posts)

Architect Francis Gichuhi . B.Arch. University of Nairobi. Registered Architect, Kenya. Member, Architectural Association of Kenya. Contacts. email Telephone +254721410684


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