Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A Letter to Engineers, Architects, Designer, Thinkers.....

Thanks for your interest in our African project. We are in the "brainstorming" phase. We welcome all ideas and are appreciative of all contributions. Our project is in an extremely remote area of Africa, described by Joseph Makeer, the native visionary behind the project as the "fourth world".

    Project Description:

    A Boarding School in Duk Payeul, South Sudan

    By African Soul, American Heart

    Duk County in South Sudan has 16,000 orphans. The area was devastated by War in the 80's & 90's. In 2005 a peace settlement with the North was finally reached. Refugees are now returning to their homes.

    During that War the now famous "Lost Boys of Sudan" were sent across the Ethiopian desert by their mothers and aunts in an attempt to save the boys. Many of the fathers and uncles were killed or hiding in the swamps of the upper Nile.

    Joseph Akol Makeer is one of those 10's of 1000's of lost boys sent across the Ethiopian desert to refugee camps. He found his way to North Dakota where he completed "all" of his formal education. He graduated from the North Dakota State University in 2008. He wrote a paper while in college documenting his experiences and won the hearts of many in our area to a special dream of his. It is now a Book and a Documentary Film:

    We want to help him realize that dream of returning to his hometown and establishing a boarding school for those like him who have lost their parents.

              Our villagers and their children are very delicately blended with the grasslands and the cattle they raise. Technology has not yet touched this area, therefore we have an opportunity to "do it right" to the best of our ability.

              We still have a lot of research to do, but here are some ideas we have come up with so far:

              DSC01005 classrooms on site 4

              The Sudd is the large flood plane of the Upper Nile, the size of France. It is called a "central clay" area, but the soil is extremely organic. There seems to be no gravel, only a very fine sand like on a beach. I see why that for 10 thousand years they have built only with sticks, mud and thatch. There are clumps of trees scattered throughout the Sudd. The wood structures last only about 3 years due to the termites. The water table is high in the rainy season within 10" or 20", and low in the dry season.

              The good news is that the climate is very stable. They have no word in the native language for winter or summer. They need a place out of the rain that is securable, well ventilated, naturally lit, with screen protection from the deadly mosquitoes. Constant power will also be difficult because fuels are expensive to ship to the area.

              I have preliminarily conceived of a structural steel frame (possibly including a raised framed floor) with steel doors and windows clipped to the frame. The infill mud or clay bricks would not be required to carry weight. Roofing systems in Africa are created with hip & ridge beams (maybe tubes) and a rafter / purlin grid. We could hire the village women who make some incredible thatch roofs to provide the roofing. If the structures were light and design to float the load, we could reduce the size and complexity of the footings. Unless we can come up with something better, we would even need to ship sand hundreds of miles for the concrete.

              Below are drawings showing a module unit that could be used for both a classroom and, with altered door and window locations, a dormitory.

              Click the Preliminary Drawing below to open it in an Interactive Viewer. If asked user is furrfoss  Leave the password blank. Click the "hand" on the Viewer tool bar to pan and zoom (that tool works the best).


              Thank you for your time! If you had an idea or inspiration please give a call send an email.

              Take care of yourself.


              FurrFoss Architecture
              701-232-2667 ph./ fax
              701-799-7088 (cell)

              (Note to Board member Ron...)

              Just a note Ron. I have been doing some research on the Sudd, and how difficult it has been for building. The British Engineers avoided the place during the 19th and 20th century. Sudd mean "barrier" in Arabic. Land masses move over time. In some years over the past century there has been extreme flooding. I remember, on our way to Juba, passing the frames of rusted out cars on the side of the road half submerged in the mud.
              I was thinking that our structures have to be semi-portable. We need to be able to de-assemble the frame to be adjusted or moved. I was thinking of my experiences with aluminum boat lifts and how there are wide base plates that are adjustable and set on the lake bottom. They settle about a foot into the silt and then with the pressure of the water and mud become quite stable. You must dig them out to move them if they settle too deep. I was thinking that this might be the best solution. If they settle or move they could be reset.
              Then I came upon an innovative house that has a "Auger" like footing that would be screwed into the ground. Here is the link:
              That would solve some of the problems with the footing installation. Rather than digging and then working to establish compaction around the footing, it would be screwed into the ground. Something to think about...........