Nigerian architect emerges finalist in Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards
A UNITED States – based Nigerian architect, Chinwe Ohajuruka has been picked as a finalist in the 2015 Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards, an international business plan competition created in 2006 by Cartier, the Women’s Forum, McKinsey & Company and INSEAD business school to identify, support and encourage projects by women entrepreneurs.
The success story of the firm – Comprehensive Design Services (CDS – USA) through pilot projects on affordable green building in PortHarcourt, River State earned her the honour and recognition. In the past, she was a winning finalist in the African Diaspora Marketplace competition with a design for an affordable Passive House Prototype.
The project is a bioclimatic design featuring natural ventilation, wide eaves, shading from landscaping, energy from solar, wind and biogas, rainwater harvesting and the use of locally available renewable material for construction among other elements. A key factor in the design is its affordability for low-income families.
The two affordable green projects were completed in 2014, one for Greater Port Harcourt City Development Authority and the other for her company. In June 2015, she was selected a finalist in the Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards.
Out of 1,700 applications, 20 of them had been selected to represent the six regions of the world. She is one of the three finalists representing Sub-Saharan Africa. The other two competitors are from Mozambique and South Africa.
“These prototypes are attractive modular housing that are re-scalable, replicable and affordable. Our houses are small but mighty”, says Ohajuruka. Moreover, prototypes were built two feet above the ground level to prevent them from flooding. Comprehensive Design Services not only builds houses but also allows customers to buy plans. “We actually produce designs that people can take and build themselves because 96 per cent of the houses that are built in Nigeria are self-built.”
She said: ““The environmental benefits of this prototype are enormous and will result in the consumption of fewer natural resources, a reduction in pollution and CO2 emissions and the creation of green jobs.”.
According to her, the building should be classified as green because it uses 85 per cent less energy than an ordinary building of its size; use less water; and will recycle rainwater and use environment friendly materials such as stabilized earth instead of cement blocks and designed to be climate responsive with cross ventilation, cool roofs, wide overhangs, shading from trees and walls that do not absorb and transmit heat to the interior of the buildings.
The building design incorporates two courtyards for cooling, ventilation and communal activities. It will use solar panels for lighting and powering small appliances, and solar thermal for the borehole and pumping water as well as recycle waste and sewerage with a bio-digester, which will in turn produce bio-gas for cooking.