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Sabon Gida, Sabon Farko — Home After Crisis

In response to a competition brief by the United Nations Migration Agency a team of architecture students, led by Temitope Akinsiku, designed this ingenious housing solution for over three million people displaced by violence in North East Nigeria. Their winning proposal, inspired by the vernacular architecture of the Hausa people (one of the region’s dominant ethnic groups), harnesses local design ideologies including tectonics, spatial organization and sustainability strategies to thoughtfully address the socio-cultural context.

Sabon Gida, Sabon Farko — Home After Crisis

Each property hosts an L-shaped module built using low-cost compressed stabilized earth blocks (CSEB) made from soil, sand, water and cement for strength. The unit contains three bedrooms and a living room that opens up to a shaded veranda, which can be enclosed with less durable materials — like cardboard, plywood or zanna, a local material made of dried grass and mud — to create an additional room, reducing the costs and complexity of construction. Should the family require permanence, the walls can be replaced with CSEB. A two-room zaure along the site’s perimeter features a reception area for non-family guests and a space that can be used as an extra bedroom or converted into a shop. Offering more than just shelter, each site can be configured for the household’s living, social, cultural and economic activities.

“It’s very thoughtful, clever and compact, and it gives complete choice to its residents.”
Shirley Blumberg, AZ Awards 2024 Juror
Sabon Gida, Sabon Farko — Home After Crisis

The incremental design gives residents the flexibility to upgrade their spaces, comfortably accommodating individuals, couples and even multi-generational families of up to 18 members. If the extra space isn’t required, it can be sold, rented or used for agriculture or other income-generating activities, which can help prevent recruitment into insurgency groups. While humanitarian interventions often take a top-down approach, the project empowers residents by involving them in the design and construction of their homes, instilling self-reliance and ownership long after humanitarian organizations have withdrawn. What’s more, residents are given opportunities for economic advancement through skills development, such as producing CSEB or constructing housing modules.

Sabon Gida, Sabon Farko — Home After Crisis

Although the need for these compounds will hopefully be temporary, they have been conceived to be a permanent fixture of their community, serving as the foundation for high-quality neighbourhoods with adequate amenities and public spaces. And, because it leverages globally available materials with thermal properties, the design can be easily adopted in other regions facing displacement crises. With a prototype currently under construction, the project is no longer speculative, nor is its impact — it is poised to make a lasting positive change.

Winner: A+ Award for Student Work
People’s Choice: A+ Award for Student Work
Sabon Gida, Sabon Farko – “Home After Crisis”

The incremental design gives residents the flexibility to upgrade their spaces, comfortably accommodating individuals, couples and even multi-generational families.

Explore more Award Winners

2024
Award of MeritA+ Award for Student Work
Student
Oonagh Davis
School
Harvard University Graduate School of Design
Instructor
Mohsen Mostafavi
2019
Award of MeritA+ Award for Student Work
School
Emily Carr University of Art + Design, Canada
Team
Roya Aghighi with Frank Ko and Addie Bahi of AMPEL UBC and Sunjoo Joo and Jae-Hyeok Lee of Botany Lab UBC
2013
WinnerA+ Award for Student Work
Location
Buffalo, New York
Designers
Courtney Creenan, Kyle Mastalinski, Daniel Nead, Scott Selin and Lisa Stern