Organic Architecture: Red Pepper House by Urko Sanchez Architects

Not quite long after having a hearty conservation with my husband wondering whether Nigerians will be comfortable ‘living in the bushes’, I stumbled upon this project.

By ‘living in the bushes’, I don’t mean having a number of trees and vegetation planted in your yard, I mean living in the “woods”, as commonly done in the west. The issue with this concept for most Nigerians (and me) will most likely be the feeling of isolation, insecurity and the fear of snakes and anything that bites (lol). Even though this is a natural way of life for most villagers, people in the city will have a hardtime adjusting to this ‘life in the bushes’.
It seems like being ‘civilised’ is overrated, as most of us in the city don’t know how to survive in the wild, lacking the important skills of fishing, farming, and living ‘off the grid’ (something to think about). While our knowledge is increasing in one area of life, it seems to be decreasing or non-existent in other very important aspects.
Aerial view of the red pepper house in the midst of the forest.

The red pepper house located in the midst of a dense mangrove forest on the Island of Lamu draws our attention to what living in the bushes looks like when serious thought is given to its design process.

Taking into consideration the clients love for nature and the need to have the big trees preserved, the architects designed the house along the spaces that had no trees. Using the Swahili Makuti roof and other locally sourced materials like coral stones, and wood the result is a building that not only thrives traditionally, but also ecologically.

Rendering showing how the sections were mapped out into the free spaces between the trees.
A cross section through the house.

The fully enclosed sections of the house (the bedrooms,) were seperated by open outdoor spaces that flow around each section. The traditional Makuti roof continues over the indoor and outdoor space creating one monolithic structure flowing through the forest. The indoor spaces were built with cast stone masonry for security and privacy, with the windows placed on the windward side alongside the openspaces.  This ensured cross ventilation and improved air quality as the hot air escapes from the space above the walls and are replaced by the cool sea breeze from the windows.

Construction of the Makuti Roof and some of the interior spaces.
Outdoor and indoor space both covered by the Makuti roof. The walls didn’t touch the roof creating a space that allows air flow through it.
An open space covered by the Makuti roof.
A typical walkway that joins different sections of the house together. This walkway goes around each bedroom section recessing the rooms and creating further comfort from the shade of the roof.
Beautifully finished bathroom with locally sourced materials.

The house maximizes the sun’s energy to generate its own power via solar panels as well as heat its own water using solar water heaters. It also has a high water tower that supplies water to taps and showers using  without the need for a pressure pump.

The Red Pepper House at night, beautifully lit.
During the day.

The best part of its location is that the distance from the rest of the population doesn’t isolate it, but creates the much needed privacy with all the nature surrounding it. Here’s a walk-through video of the the house.

 Images are from; Archdaily
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