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Designing for the Arts: 3rd Earth Architecture Competition

Nka Foundation is issuing a challenge to designers, architects and builders to use their creativity to come up with innovative designs for modest, affordable houses that can be built locally to replace the rural mud house type. The challenge is to design a mud house type of about 2400 sq feet that sleeps 8 to 10 persons to be built on a plot size of 80 x 100 feet. The construction site will be Abetenim Arts Village, near Kumasi in the Ashanti Region of Ghana. The building should be designed for use by either musicians, theatre artists, potters, sculptors, painters, textile artists, designers, writers, or media arts practitioners. Total costs of constructing the design entry must not exceed $7,000 (USD) for materials and labor; land value is excluded from this price point.

Three Winning Schemes Reinvent the African Mud Hut

The Nka Foundation recently challenged young graduates and students of architecture to redesign the African mud hut for Ghana. The result, three designs received top honors for being both functional and beautiful, and will now be realized through a series of building workshops that you can participate in. Learn more and check out the winning designs, after the break.

How to Re-Invent the African Mud Hut

It’s not often that a project requires you to bulk up on your haggling skills.

Then again, it’s not often that a project requires you to re-invent the African Mud Hut either. But that was exactly the task presented to Karolina and Wayne Switzer, participants of the Nka Foundation’s “10x10 Shelter Challenge” to design and build a 10 by 10 feet shelter deep in the heart of Ghana. 

The pair, who just completed their project this month, were dependent upon the local community to make the shelter a reality, and had to learn early on how to communicate with the locals - not just to negotiate prices for materials and labor, but to overcome the local stigma associated with mud architecture (usually only used by the very poor). 

The result was a contemporary, durable shelter built with a construction method inspired by local tradition: the pounding of the fufu root, a diet staple for the community, which uncannily paralleled the pounding of fresh soil into the forms. Hence the local’s name for the structure: “Obruni fufu” (white man’s fufu). 

If you’re interested in getting involved in the 10x10 Challenge (open to students and graduates of design, architecture, art, or engineering, until October 2013), check out the Nka Foundation’s website,, or email at 

Full description of the project, after the break....