A different kind of sustainable architecture has reached to remote Loita, Kenya, where a new computer learning center and library blending modern planning and traditional Masaai decoration is now standing. Incredibly, the stunning artwork decorating the building was created from bottle caps donated from around the world after appeals went out via social media.
Originally entitled "The 15,000 Bottle Cap Project," the campaign more than met its goal with over 50,000 bottle caps coming in.
The building is the result of architect Charles Newman (pictured last in the gallery below), whose work with Under the Acacia
— a non-profit dedicated to creating sustainable projects in Kenya — and the local tribeswomen of the community. The project carried the imperative from Newman and the non-profit to ensure the local community was involved to bridge the gap between old and new.
While many younger Kenyans have begun to embrace technology, there still exists a resistance in some older generations to the encroaching influence on their traditional ways. By including the entire community in the planning phase and incorporating their traditional artwork, it was a way to introduce technology and the intended purpose of the building in a non-intrusive way.
Though previous projects in the area had used stone as a method of construction, Newman had wanted to mimic the construction of the local homes by using cow dung. In the end, due to drought and lack of available herds, he ended up using a modified wattle and daub technique.
Because Masaai design is so distinctive, Newman knew from the start the tribeswomen would be the only ones who could translate it. It also served to get them curious and involved in the project as a way of preserving some of their culture. These women sorted some 50,000 bottle caps by size and color and applied them to the building as the finishing design.
Having felt tied to Kenya after a stint there serving in Engineers Without Borders, Newman found Under the Acacia project through friends and was impressed with their results oriented mission to create sustainable projects in remote areas.
In this case, they went above and beyond the call as the building used sustainable techniques via the recycled bottle caps and promotes future sustainability through continued education and growth.