Jabu Centre
Siteki, Swaziland
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A community center for women in rural Swaziland.

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Category:
meeting place
Phase:
in use
Design:
The raw foundation
Updated:
17 December 2012
introduction

Jabu center was intiated with the goal to improve the working conditions of the Jabu sewing women. The Jabu Centre consists of dry composting toilet block (two units), a cooking area, rainwater collection, an open workshop and a classroom. Although the main purpose of the project was a building for the sewing businesses of the Jabu Women, the community and the external initiators felt the need that such a building complex could better serve more people than a few. Therefore the result is a community center for all for both Jabu ladies and other community members.

The workshop consists of a large workspace with office and storage, and an open washing area and kitchen. The workspace has two very large sliding doors which allow the space to be opened up for more community-oriented events. A clerestorey above this space distinguishes it from the rest of the building, and provides light and passive ventilation. Deep verandahs provide extra sheltered space. On the southern verandah, there’s a step which will be further developed as a bench for outside working.

East elevation

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The Jabu ladies

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The sitaution of building in lanscape

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cultural and social context

Back in 2009, the Jabu sewing women worked in a small, poorly built hut. Jeremiah Gamedze, the husband of two of the women, Grace and Margaret, offered up a piece of his land for the project: an outline design was proposed and the search for funding and sponsoring began.

The design team has used the emerging building site as a podium during the building period by introducing 'raw:extras': raw:extras is transforming the building site into a temporary public space wherein workshops and events occur, the content of which are explorations of aspects of the building process and itsrelationship to the larger community. It is the think-tank / play-space in which the building community and its extended network, research, discuss and explore the design/build process.

Swazi traditional dance performed during the opening of the centre in March 2010.

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Some of the local crew that we trained onsite during the building process.

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materials and building techniques

While the design team strives to use found and unconventional materials in its building, given the rural context of the Jabu Centre, the pallet of materials was restricted to tyres, pallets, earth, stones and reclaimed brick. Earth blocks, both stabilised [corners] and unstabilised, made in a field next to the site, were used for all walls, above a base of bricks;

Materials inspired by the Jabu Sewing group old workshop.

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Earth bricks.

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Using natural stones found on the site.

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Reject brinks donated from local Langa Bricks

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The brinks used in the floors.

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Tyre wall sample.

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Top view of construction in progress of the main and toilet units. Tyres used in all three units as structure and infill but also to connect the units together visually.

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Pallet truss being made.

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Wooden beams and furniture made from reused pallets.

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Lady plastering wall, which is all done by hand with a mixture of two different plaster sands from a location very close to site and cow dung from the homestead cattle kraals.

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Pallets being striped for the sliding doors.

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Detail of the wall surfaces after two layers of plaster. This is the last layer a finer more yellow looking sand that gets very hard when dry.

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Infill in the steel doors from pallets.

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earth and climate

Local materials were used and cement was limited as much as possible. Using the stones found on site we avoided pouring concrete foundations; cool thermal mass was maximised in the design of the structure by using tyres and earth brinks. Fenced terrain to provide goat-free ground for cultivation and rainwater collection was installed for cooking, washing cloths and watering gardens.

Passive ventilation through clerestorey windows.

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Two composting toilets donated by Enviro Options

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Water tank donated by Oasis water tank makers in Swziland.

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Fencing around the buildings to help gardening initiatives by protecting plant life from goats and cows.

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Verandahs all around the building to help keep the building cool from intense sun light.

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image gallery
Building east elevation up close.

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Pallets beams.

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Jabu centre viewed from a distance and how it integrates in the landscape.

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Entrance gate to the centre.

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Class room.

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East elevation of the whole site.

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Tyre wall passing through the northern part of the main building.

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Open sliding door reveals the whole site.

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Main building elevation with clerestory and kitchen area to the left of the building.

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Tyre wall of main building and entrance door.

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Main door into centre from the tyre wall.

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View from main centre down to the two composing toilets.

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Toilet unit with two composing toilets.

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View from the west.

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Sliding doors.

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View from inside the main centre space.

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Another view from the main space.

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Kids giving the team a helping hand

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Building underway.

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Jabu ladies getting the first natural plaster mis ready.

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Tyre wall going up slowly as tyres keep coming.

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Roof going onto main building.

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Verandah floor getting finished.

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More roof going on. One can see how dry and hot is it from this image and this is winter.

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Some serious tools helped us to push forward on a building project that took no longer then 10 weeks to complete.

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Class room getting the final touches.

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Steel burglar door getting welded onto the steel frame for the safe room, which is to become the main storage space of the building where items can be safely looked up.

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Work in progress.

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raw:extras - film event held during the building process.

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raw:extras - film event

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The Jabu Centre is a tab bit hard to find if you don't know the area. But if you are looking to the building look for this sign along the road to help you get there.

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Jabu ladies doing final touch ups on the plaster work.

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Detail of the roof and tyre wall from the classroom building before final plaster layer.

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Calanne from raw working on the clerestorey windows and getting a good tan while doing it.

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Even the kids could not resist help us with a helping hand. Here seen sanding the pallet infill on the steel sliding doors.

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Final rap party approaches and the Jabu Ladies get stuck in with finishing.

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technical drawings
jabu_centre_floorplan

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Location
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Keyword:
low budget (60)
community practice (97)
local resources (88)
traditional technique (32)
earth (61)
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