in the press

LafargeHolcim Award

Architects Andrew Amara and Philip Murungi have been recognised for designing projects in Gulu at the 5th International LafargeHolcim Awards in sustainable construction in Nairobi. The awards, which are held once every three years, attracted a total of 5,085 entries by authors in 121 countries. There were only 12 winners in all categories from across the Middle East and Africa.

Amara and Murungi were awarded for designing the second phase of the Odek Centre for Nodding Disease. Competition judge Joe Osae-Addo from Ghana noted that the project, which is set to start in June 2018 in Odek Village in Gulu district, is an exuberant and playful transformation of a healing centre for children, aimed at community-building after decades of conflict.

Speaking at the sidelines of the awards, Amara said there is need for architects to craft solutions for the problems that face the majority of Ugandans and not the 15% wealthiest in society.

“We need architects who will solve the traffic nightmare and the floods in Kampala. The houses on the market are between sh200m and sh150m, but the average family cannot afford, let’s have reasonably priced homes,” he said. “Young architects should not stick to the rules; there is so much copy and paste in the industry. They should think of new and innovative things,” Amara added.

Read the full story at this Link.

Town Build: Participatory House Planning

A community engagement project to develop a planning and design solution to the housing challenges of underprivileged households in Nansana. The result will be a neighbourhood plan for decent and well-organised living settlements, for 150 low-income households.

Problem: Towns and cities in Sub-Sahara Africa are seeing an influx and growth of informal housing and squatter settlements. In the city-slums, low-income households end up settling in valleys and swamps, building rudimental ‘shacks’ and living in dire conditions; with no water, poor sanitation, inadequate energy, disease, and poor-housing-related social issues and vices. Uganda has not been an exception... Towns like Kampala struggle with this dilemma.

Solution: Through the lense of the locals and vulnerable households, develope a housing scheme that is truly achievable, accessible and appropriate. In Phase 1, a template /prototype neighbourhood plan for decent and well-organised living settlements, for 150 low-income households will be developed. The project brings together a multi disciplinary of experts, city-building professionals and students to engage local beneficiary slum residents and the town council in the planning for their area. Focus will be on local context and relevance, quality of living, climate & environmental sennsitivity and basic infrastructure (including water, energy, sanitation). The participation is orchestrated to develope partnerships for housing development.

Read the full story at this Link.

Founders Award: Paicho Huts, Uganda / Andrew Amara

Ugandan architect Andrew Amara received the Founders Award for “Paicho Huts” – a proposal to re-open an army outpost as a combination clinic, community center, market and memorial gallery. The Founders Award is awarded to the entry that best exemplifies the aims of Architecture for Humanity.

Amara is seeking ways to restore peace in rural Uganda following decades of conflict. While the town of Gulu is now bustling, Amara notes, “the suburbs on the outskirts however are picking up slowly with people returning back to their homes to rebuild livelihoods that were shattered by the war.” “During the hostilities between the Uganda People’s Defense Force and the Lord’s Resistance Army there were many IDP camps throughout the district, where at one time, an estimated two million people lived. One of these camps was in Paicho. An army outpost was therefore stationed in Paicho to monitor and safeguard the camp.”

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Berkeley Prize Committee

Andrew Amara, is an architect who has worked across the global on small and large projects: first with DIMENSIONS, a regional architecture practice, then MODE (Missionaries of Design), a non-profit organization which runs several small community intervention projects; ranging from refurbishment of urban monuments to slum dwelling upgrade. As a mentor and project associate with Global Studio, Andrew worked with vulnerable communities in Vancouver and Johannesburg. In Preston UK, he supported communities in understanding neighbourhood planning.

As a member of the Uganda Society of Architects, and he has served on several symposium committees, and editorial boards, spearheading a drive to raise public awareness on the role of architects in building sustainable environments. He has worked on documentary projects that capture the different experiences of living in Kampala, with the main aim of ''provoking'' city-building professionals to rethink the approach to building cities and settlements.

Read the full story at this Link.

Through the Looking-Glass in Uganda. Odek Center for Nodding Disease

Exuberant and playful transformation of traditional type forms for a healing center for children with Nodding Disease in Uganda aimed at community-building after decades of conflict. This “playground-as- campus” is the result of a participatory design process that incorporates the formal vernacular of traditional architecture as filtered through the drawings of its future inhabitants.

Read the full story at this Link.

ANDREW AMARA Varna Library Competition entry

The library concept sprang from the notion of a book of pages, that opens up to allow visitors in. The form, layout and program encourages the cities residents and visitors to explore the hidden secrets of the books and archives of the city.

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Kampala is a messy city - architects

The Uganda Society of Architects (USA) has called for a better planned Kampala city in order to reduce the health and other risks associated with a muddled environment. The USA board of research chairperson, Andrew Amara, noted that Kampala is struggling with long traffic queues and inefficient transport with filth and dirt in many parts of the city, more frequent flooding and inequality in access to housing. “There is already a mess and we need to correct the mess. We need to go green and have green buildings,” Amara noted. Amara was on Friday addressing the media at the body’s offices in Kampala ahead of the 11th annual symposium slated for August 31 at Golf Course hotel.

Read the full story at this Link.

Online Videos of Development Planning Programs

Building a 7500 USD House (Link)

Participatory Neighbourhood & Housing Planning (Link)

Participation in Housing and Planning (Link)

Andrew Amara is bringing affordable housing to slums in Uganda (Link)

“Innovation and community” – Sustainable design by Andrew Amara (Link)

“Area Code in Kabusu Residential Area, Construction Site in Masaka (Link)