Ghana: Nka Foundation invites entries for Mud House Design 2014, an international design competition

The Mud House Design competition is open to recent graduates and students of architecture, design and others from around the world who think earth architecture can be beautiful. Registration and submission of entries run from March 15-August 31, 2014

The challenge is to design a single-family unit of about 30 x 40 feet on a plot of 60 x 60 feet to be built by maximum use of earth and local labor in the Ashanti Region of Ghana.
The client of your design is the middle-income family in any township of your choice in the Ashanti Region. Total costs of constructing the design entry must not exceed $6,000; land value is excluded from this price point. The entry should serve as an example to the local people that mud architecture can be beautiful and durable.

What is the design problem? The cause is this: in Ghana, as in other countries in West Africa, stereotypes about buildings made of earth persist because of poor construction. Earth architecture is fast giving way to modern dwellings made of cement blocks and other modern materials that are not simply expensive but thermally and acoustically problematic. From the cities to the low-income villages, use of concrete - despite its dependence on imported resources - is considered indispensable for building. The rising cost of the modern building materials manufactured from imported resources makes it very difficult for low-income families to become homeowners. Yet an excellent, cheap and local alternative called laterite, red earth, is available everywhere in Ghana.

For example, in the Abetenim area, 98% of the homes are made of earth, however local stereotypes about buildings made of earth persist because there are several examples of mud homes that have eroded over time due to poor construction and water damage. That is why there is local stigma associated with mud architecture. The local perception is that mud buildings are only for the very poor. We reason that a design intervention can help generate alternatives to resolve the problem.

In light of the problem, we are running Mud House Design Competition to encourage designers, architects and builders to use their creativity to come up with innovative designs for modest, affordable homes that can be built locally. The design should aim at creating a single family and semi-urban house type that is a place to live, a place to rest, store modest belongings, and feel safe. The first place winning entry will be built on a site in the Ashanti Region.

What is the preferred construction method for the winning entries? The method to be used to construct your design concept can be cob construction, rammed earth, mud brick, cast earth (poured earth) by formwork, or any other earth construction techniques that can be easily learned by local labor. Roofing design could be of vault, fired mud roof, or corrugated zinc sheets, which is the conventional roofing materials because zinc roofing stands the heavy rainfall better. Your design entry may therefore aim to accomplish a prototype, a durable mud house that promotes open source design for the continuity of building with earth under the feet for a more sustainable future.

Undeniably, the competition promotes open source design, as a sustainable development model.  By Open Source, we imply that the submitted designs will be available for all to appreciate, use, or improve them to generate more practical and contemporary design solutions for the region. The long-term goal is to enable the Ghanaian population and lots of other places, to overcome the stigma that mud architecture is architecture for the very poor.

Join us!  Make your name known. Show the world how to reinvent the African mud hut!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Q. Do you have a Is website with detail about Compeition? The the competition website is Registered participants will get invitation to an Online forum, where the participants can interact and exchange ideas with other users and team up with fellow designers to complement their skills to achieve best results.

Q. What do I need to do to participate in the design competition? Pay the entry fee online here: httHYPERLINK ""ps:// ( to get your entry ticket,create a design proposal, and submit your design via

Q. Where is the construction site, is it on the map? There is no specific site for the project; any township of your choice in the Ashanti Region of Ghana is appropriate. Most townships in Ghana are on the map. In townships in the Ashanti Region, there is public water. Electric power is also by public grid. Most townships in the area do not have public sewage sytem; thus, the sewage pit system is a commom practice.

Q. What are the amenities that are most needed for a single family unit? Rooms to sleep, kitchen, toilet/bath and a yard are basic.

Q. Can you tell us more about the climate of the region where the project will be constructed? Ashanti Region of Ghana falls within the warm-humid climatic zone. Air temperatures remain moderately high, between 21 and 32 degrees C, with little variation between day and night. Traditionally, earth-walled courtyard houses are typical with broad overhanging eaves to shade the exterior walls. Pitched roofs covered with corrugated metallic sheets are common in the warm-humid climates of Ghana. Windows are large and fully openable. Fixed windows are not climatically preferable in the warm-humid climates. For additional information, see:

Q. I need more information on architecture of the project area? Here is a list to get you started: (1)   (2)  (3)

Q. Can we submit more than one project? Yes, but each project must have a unique registration number.

Q. Do we need to submit hard copies of the boards?  No, this is a digital competition. You have to send your boards by e-mail to

Q. Can we submit our boards in Spanish or French?  No, English is the only accepted language.

Q. Can you supply some photos of mud architecture from the region?  You will find plenty of great images of architecture from the region if you google African architecture (Ashanti) or Ashanti architecture.

Barthosa Nkurumeh
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Page Updated Last on: Feb 27, 2014
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