Africa Reinventing History

In Senegal, the architects of Worofila and Elementerre architecture companies are resurrecting old age African buildings of red earth.  

Nzinga Mboup, co-founder of Worofila in, and Doudou Deme, the founder of Elementerre are today erecting the coolest buildings in Dakar.

In a site in Dakar, lies an iconic building with workers tirelessly reinventing the African history, laying down bricks from mother nature with their bare hands.

In the years past in Africa and across the world, humans made houses with bricks made of raw earth but today there are countless buildings made of concrete. This is not to say that mud houses were rendered useless entirely but with technical advancement humans appreciate the change.

It is with the same advancement that Worofila and Elementerre are rebuilding the quality of bricks made from raw earth and at the same time providing a cool comfortable space for its inhabitants considering the weather condition of West Africa flaring with heat.

Concrete buildings are solid, and with installed air condition systems people enjoy the comfortability but certainly not when they can’t afford one. During summer, when temperatures frequently reach 100 degrees fahrenheit (38°C), the buildings become furnaces.

Naturally, bricks made of raw earth regulate heat and humidity which is part of the extensive research of Worofila, specializing in bioclimatic design.

Since 2016, the company has never relented in this pursuit. The founders say it could reduce pollution from cement factories and electricity production. And also keep people cool. Ain’t that cool 🙂 ?

“Before air conditioning, people paid attention to materials and orientation for the natural regulation of heat…The moment A/C arrived, these considerations went out the window,” said Nzinga Mboup, while the construction of what will stand tall to be a family home made of red earth with a pool.

Traditionally, houses in Senegal were made of mud, but that has been abandoned. Today across the continent Africa, roadsides are covered with piles of sand and stones that are mixed with cement to make cheap building bricks.

To produce a modern earth brick, soil is mixed with smaller amounts of cement and water to create a mixture that they cut into bricks, and then compressed with a hand-operated machine and afterwards left for 21 days to dry.

Bricks made from raw earth require less energy to produce unlike concrete. According to British think tank Chatham House, the main ingredient in concrete bricks is cement and it accounts for 8% of carbon dioxide emissions.

Elementerre and Worofila have partnered for the construction of private homes, offices and part of a train station. Though, they are still on their way to put a dent on the continent. 

However, they are still breaking grounds and Worofila has been longlisted for Ashden Award, a British prize for climate solutions.

“At the start we were looking for clients. Today we don’t look for them. We have a lot of demand,” said Doudou Deme.

By Elijah Christopher

Elijah Christopher

Elijah Christopher is a journalist at A New Touch Of Africa, is also a creative writer, a poet, and an IT enthusiast. He contributed to the collaborative poem written in celebration of Edwin Morgan Centenary, the first Glasgow poet laureate and Scottish national poet from the University of Glasgow. He loves meeting people and learning about new places, cultures, events, and lifestyles.

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