Architects: Evdokia Selianitis | Elli - Helen Kapsanaki
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Participation in the International Architectural Competition "A house in Luanda: Patio and pavilion". Team: Gama Eleni-Eleftheria, Selianiti Evdokia and Charamidopoulou Pamphili (Lili) (2010)



After research on the African Angolan culture and climate, the vernacular architecture of rural areas of sub-Saharean Africa and also the arbitrary ‘musseque’ slums in contemporary Luanda, the design team came up with the following basic features that should characterize the Angolan “patio and pavilion” modern dwelling.

Criteria of architecture design


The climate of Luanda is hot and humid. The average temperature is 25.1 °C with insignificant temperature variations throughout the year (average temperature range is 6.5 °C) and average annual relative humidity up to 79.1%. Even though the humidity is high the climate of Luanda is dry especially during the winter season with average 0mm of rainfall, due to the cool Benquela current that prevents moisture from easily condensing into rain. On the other hand there is a short rainy season in autumn (March, April). April is the wettest month with an average of 124 mm rainfall. Due to its geographical location, between the Equator and the Tropic of Capricorn, Luanda receives an average of 6,4 hours of sunlight per day and 2340 hours of sunlight per year, with almost stable sunrise, sunset, dawn and dusk times. Consequently, this kind of weather asks for very good ventilation and protection from sunlight(shading), but also allows living in the external spaces.


The type of family for which the house is designed (7 to 9 individuals) consists of three generations (parents, grandparents, children). This fact led us to the necessity of having large and flexible spaces in the house, that would also provide privacy to the inhabitants. The traditions of living in the external space and also of holding strong relations between the members of the family are important factors of the design proposal.

Local materials, low cost and self-construction

The need of a low budget scheme together with that of a house which could be easily constructed by the future residents led us to traditional, local, relatively cheap and easy to find materials (clay, wood etc) and also to local traditional systems and practices with minimum need for technical background from the workmen (earth blocks (adobe), screen walls (cement blocks with holes) for ventilation and decoration, phased construction, shelters etc).


Project Description


The dwelling is organized in a ‘U’ shape that creates three different types of outdoor space; the front yard, the central patio and the back-secondary yard. All the habitable spaces are organized around the central internal courtyard, through which the inhabitants may enter the house. Thus internal corridors are not needed for circulation and are substituted by the external shelters. In brief, the central patio is the core of each housing unit.

The shelters and the courtyards give the option of utilizing the external space and so increasing the living area. The dwelling is enclosed looking for an introvert lifestyle. In order to favor living outdoors an oven and a sink are designed in the central yard for outdoors food preparation.

The lot has one main entrance in the 10m street front (can also be a secondary entrance at the back depending of the urban formation of the neighborhood).

The dwelling is one story covered by a flat roof. It consists of two building volumes, an ‘L’ shaped one and a linear one.

The ‘L’ part of the house consists of the common room of the family with living room, kitchen and storage and a flexible space for the children. The second linear part of the house consists of the parents’ and grandparents’ bedrooms and shower.

The openings are designed to provide cross ventilation. The ventilators, that are situated on the upper part of the walls (just under the roof) are used to remove the hot air from the house and to facilitate the air flow in the room.

Construction materials

Walling: clay earth blocks (adobe) with reinforcement of wooden timbering and fired bricks. Dimensions: External walls: 40cm thick, Internal walls: 10cm thick

Floor finishes: Internal spaces and under the shelters: neat concrete grout, courtyards: earth

Roof: timber structure, organic insulation, asphaltic membrane, organic damp proof from clay earth

Doors and windows: timber structures

Walls finishes: plaster

Base/ Foundations: reinforced concrete

Shelters: timber structure and covering with reed

All the materials are natural, local and low-cost



The dwelling can be constructed easily in three simple phases:

1. Creation of the concrete base

2. Building of the walls with clay earth blocks that the future inhabitants will construct on their own using the local soil and a timber mould. It is a very common method in all Africa and requires no skills. The bricks after being dried can be put on the concrete base to create the walls of the dwelling. In the upper height of each opening and all along the walls wooden timbering reinforcement is required to improve stability.

3. Plumping and electrical installation

4. Construction of the roof. First, the timbers and joints are set, then the layers of natural insulation, asphaltic membrane and organic damp proof.

5. Rendering on the walls with plaster.

6. Floor finishes with neat concrete grout.

7. Assembly of the timber constructions and placement of the windows and doors. Apart from the construction of windows and doors, which require technical knowledge and can be prefabricated, all other timber constructions can be self-constructed.

8. Post (pillar) and beam timber construction of the shelters/ covering with reeds


Urban planning


The ‘U’ type dwelling can be combined in succession in many ways creating a variety of forms of free outdoor space, private and public space, road and neighborhood concepts. It provides urban flexibility with capability for linear, organic or enclosed placement of the lots and different urban densities for alternative living scenarios with different response to public space.


Case A: organic fabric – circular forms – low-density neighborhoods - privacy

Unit: 2-house

Cluster: 12-house = 96 people

Neighborhood: 96-house = 768 people

Urban fabric fragment: 224-house = 1792 people ==> 107 persons/ha density


Case B: linear form - terraces

1. Unit: 4-house

2. Cluster: 12 back to back houses + 6 single houses= 18-house = 144 people

3. Neighborhood: 140-house = 1120 people

4. Urban fabric fragment: 292-house = 2336 people ==> 167 persons/ha density


Case C: internal patio - three levels of common use space: extra private (unit), less private (clusters), public (neighborhood squares and streets)

1. Unit: 6-house

2. Cluster: 10 houses= 80 people

3. Neighborhood: 134-house = 1072 people

4. Urban tissue fragment: 268-house = 2144 people ==> 150 persons/ha density



The cost of the dwelling has been calculated after considering the current prices of diesel, cement and average wage and social insurance in Angola. The above prices have been used as factors to simulate the European prices of the other material used to Angolan ones. Rough budget as follows: (συνημμένη εικόνα)





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