The SICU* Experiment - *Sustainable Incremental Construction Unit
EiABC-Addis Ababa University, Bauhaus University Weimar and Juba University - Ethiopia
Drawings, plans, elevations
The SICU experiment attempts to address the climatic, economical, cultural, as well as social sustainability of the project context, by using locally available and prefabricated building elements with standardized dimensions. An easy to construct modular system and a culturally and socially motivated design providing a highly flexible occupation, while at the same time targeting mass-customization, affordability and up-scalability of the building prototype. Close to 90% of the building parts of the house are prefabricated in a workshop by micro and small-scale enterprises, creating the opportunity for new jobs and skills. Considering the current building system in Ethiopia, which is highly dominated by imported building materials, expensive customized processes and inflexible cast-in-situ systems, this shift will present a cost efficient and faster alternative for the construction sector. Through the efficient employment of resources, energy, labour and time, SICU demonstrates that the city’s complex and insurmountable installation process of housing units could be overcome. By learning from the experiment, it would be possible to self-construct a very affordable housing unit in less than three months. It also makes it possible to activate private resources and create private work force to erect necessary housing units for Ethiopia, which introduces the possibility to do more with less and keep the value chains for production and assembly within the country. Different building elements within the SICU system have been strategically designed and sorted for convenient development by micro, small scale and medium business enterprises. From the SICU building elements manual, already existing or newly organized youth associations can identify a building system or component, which is profitable for them, and pursue its production as a business initiative. The pre-prepared design that is modular allows for easy adaptability for small-scale manufacturers to adopt essential details and proportions to further modify them, as time requires. In addition, the physical structure is designed so as to support the incremental nature of situations in the Addis Ababa context. It is a half-ready construction where the homeowners will be able to finish the construction themselves, installing building components, such as enclosure walls, windows, internal partitions, and finishes according to their needs.