© 2014 30th International PLEA Conference: Sustainable Habitat for Developing Societies: Choosing the Way Forward - Proceedings. All rights reserved. Vernacular architecture is manifested by a large variety of forms that have a diversity of explanations. This arises from the idea that people of different backgrounds and cultures respond differently to wide-ranging physical environments and the interplay of socio-cultural factors. In this paper, the authors introduce the development of Swahili architecture in Kenya as a response to warm-humid climate. Initially, to encapsulate generic design recommendations for this climate, bio-climatic design responses were derived using Mahoney Tables analysis and reinforced by guidelines obtained from previous research. This revealed conspicuously supportive arguments for lightweight air-permeable buildings in contrast to the existing Swahili form that is noticeably heavyweight. An exploration of the influence of socio-cultural factors and building materials enabled the authors to explain how these and other factors may have masked or overridden the sole effect of climatic parameters resulting in the heavyweight typology. Further, field study investigations of a series of Swahili buildings in Mombasa were conducted during the warmest periods of two years. In this paper the authors focused on the findings from the investigations of one of those buildings. Results showed indoor temperatures lower than corresponding outdoor temperatures by up to 7°C during peak times. Additionally, an occupancy survey conducted during the study periods found that up to 70% (during the warmest months) and 99% (during the coolest months) of the occupants found the studied building thermally comfortable. These analyses of the environmental response of this architectural typology revealed the suitability of plan, form and fabric characteristics. It was concluded that vernacular Swahili housing could offer insights into a different and valid approach for design of passive contemporary buildings within the local warm-humid climate.
Kiamba, L., Rodrigues, L., & Lau, B. (2014). Climate-responsive vernacular Swahili housing. In Sustainable habitat for developing societies : choosing the way forward : 30th International PLEA Conference, December 16-18, 2014 : proceedings (394-401)