Summer 2009
Industry News

Architectural Firm Collaborates on Pro-Bono Design for a Tanzanian Orphanage

Seattle-based Olson Sundberg Kundig Allen Architects (OSKA) is collaborating with the Mwangaza Foundation and the Puget Sound Chapter of Engineers Without Borders to build an orphanage complex near the city of Songea in southern Tanzania. The project is scheduled to begin construction at the end of this year or in early 2010.

In the meantime, all the bricks needed for the project actually are being made onsite – all 600,000 of them.

The project began in March of last year when OSKA’s Rick Sundberg visited Tanzania at the request of the Foundation. “There is no way I couldn’t do this project,” he said. Now, nearly half of the firm’s staff – more than 30 people – have become actively involved.

Masonry Design Magazine

Onsite termite mounds provide clean dirt for making bricks, which are dried, fired and counted before being stored in a thatched roof shed.

The orphanage, which is funded by the Mwangaza Foundation and operated by Songea Women and Children’s Organization (SWACO), currently provides food, shelter, health care and education for 68 children in a temporary shelter and foster homes; they have 100-plus children on a waiting list. Most of the orphans’ parents died of AIDS. These children have no families, or what family remains is too poor to provide for them. In addition to the orphanage, the Foundation plans to provide for the health and well-being of people in the surrounding area.

OSKA says the project will occur in two phases: the first phase will provide housing for 64 children; the second phase will provide for another 160. Housing will be in duplex homes, for groups of eight children with a female caretaker – a “Grandma” – which will create a family structure within the larger community. In addition to the duplexes, the complex will include a dining/assembly space, classrooms, day care, a clinic and outdoor gathering spaces. The team is taking a holistic approach to the design, keeping in mind the local conditions. Providing access to clean water is a significant part of the project.

To learn more about the project, visit www.oskaarchitects.comMD