ArchiFair is a Non-Profit-Organisation based in Vienna, Austria, lead by Anna Schweiger and Jaap Willemsen. We have the ambition to improve the housing conditions of social- and economic deprived people in the Sahel and at the same time reduce the environmental impact of the building industry at large. We strongly believe that the building material earth has the potential to improve the housing conditions of many socially and economically deprived people in the Sahel but this potential remains largely untapped up to now. This is partially due to the poor reputation of earth in the Sahel – it is often referred to as ‘the material of the poor’ – but also because many people prefer to use concrete (often in shape of cement-blocks) which is considered to be more durable and upscale. Concrete (a composite material composed of fine and coarse aggregate (sand and gravel) bonded together with cement) however is very damaging to the environment. The production of cement produces massive CO2 emissions and the harvesting of sand destroys ecosystems all around the globe. Concrete buildings also offer little comfort in tropical (hot) climates. They often need to be cooled mechanically in order to keep room-temperatures tolerable. With this in mind we consider it a key challenge to reintroduce traditional (revived) earth building techniques and polish the reputation of earth buildings in the Sahel. The spreading of affordable high quality earth building techniques would give more people access to decent housing and at the same time reduce the environmental impact of the building sector.
ArchiFair wants to develop and promote affordable and high-quality earth building techniques to improve the housing conditions of social- and economic deprived people in the Sahel and at the same time reduce the environmental impact of the building industry at large.
In close cooperation with local NPOs and the technical university Vienna we want to demonstrate people in the Sahel the potential of the building material earth through exemplary building projects. These demonstration buildings coupled with capacity building (training of local labourers) and awareness raising, should pave the way for a more sustainable building sector based on earth construction techniques.
We are always happy about any kind of feedback!