Please find below answers to all questions sent in before the Q&A deadline of the 15th of October regarding the RITC competition
A1. Regarding the location of the building, do we choose any site in Maseru or will there be an exact location that we have to use?
There is not a particular site that you are designing for just Maseru in general. The purpose of the blocks is to match make students with a mentor architect firm and to pair up the sponsor with the architecture firm.
A2. What are the dimensions of the blocks we chose?
The purpose of the blocks on the Maseru plan are only to create different pairings between participants, mentors and sponsors, and have no influence on the actual size of the plot for each project or competition entry.
Plot sizes in Maseru vary widely, though 15x30m and 30x30m are fairly standard, however as one of the objectives of the competition is to think of strategies that prevent urban sprawl we invite participants to either zoom in on the maps and choose a real plot or to come up with a ‘typical’ plot size and design which would best respond to the objectives set out in the competition brief.
A3. Are we doing designs of a typical housing unit only or do we also have to do a master plan of our respective blocks to show social amenities and all?
The purpose of the blocks on the Maseru plan are only to create different pairings between participants, mentors and sponsors, and have no influence on the actual size of the plot for each project or competition entry. Plot sizes in Maseru vary widely, though 15x30m and 30x30m are fairly standard, however as one of the objectives of the competition is to think of strategies that prevent urban sprawl we invite participants to either zoom in on the maps and choose a real plot or to come up with a ‘typical’ plot size and design which would best respond to the objectives set out in the competition brief. The purpose of the blocks on the Maseru plan are only to create different pairings between participants, mentors and sponsors, and have no influence on the actual size of the plot for each project or competition entry.
A4. Are we doing designs of a typical housing unit only or do we also have to do a master plan of our respective blocks to show social amenities and all?
As stated in the brief, the objective of the competition is to come up with a standard design for a housing unit of approx. 48 sqm with two bedrooms, a bathroom, living and eating area. This unit can be a stand alone unit, or could be designed in such a way that you can create a small neighbourhood of houses, a building, or some other form of cluster that you may think of.
A5. Will we be provided the block topographic map to better understand the land and to analyse what type of foundations we could use?
As noted in other answers, there is no ‘defined site’, participants must make their own assumptions as to what the topography of the site is, and what type of foundations could be used.The best way for getting aerial views is using Google Maps.
A6. Is there any DWG file of the site or a PDF with the dimensions?
There are no site plans. You are not designing for a specific site. The purpose of the block is to match student entries with a mentor. The design is for anywhere in the Maseru city.
A7. What kind of site is available for designing and submitting as SITE PLAN? Or does ‘site’ refer to the parameters, where you would indicated the house in relation to a hypothetical street?
Please refer to the answer to question A6.
A8. Will information as site levels or a model of sorts be made available or may we design without a lot of consideration on these?
Please refer to the answer to question A6.
A9. Should existing structures on and around be considered in the design or should the site be considered bare?
Please refer to the answer to question A6.
A10. Do I need to choose a site need from the block I signed up for?
Please refer to the answer to question A6.
B1. Is every block ‘guaranteed’ to have a contributor architect and a sponsor? And if not, what will happen to the student competitor?
We are doing our best to recruit mentors and sponsors for all the blocks, but there is no guarantee that this will happen for all the blocks. This does not impact the student competitor in any way. If a mentor is not assigned to a student, a qualified architect will review the preliminary design and give feedback.
B2. Is the sign up of a mentor architect and sponsor separate from me or am I to find mentor/sponsor myself?
It is up to rise in the city competition organisers to find a mentor and sponsor for the blocks. However students are encouraged to invite potential mentor architecture firms and sponsors to participate in the competition.
B3. Can the student send the architecture firm that they are partnered with their design ideas for feedback before November 15 or can it only be a once submission due to the business of the firm?
This depends on the architecture firm. Some firms are open to giving feedback before the November 15 whereas others will only give feedback between 15 to 30 November.
B4. 100 blocks are all full. Will additional quota be opened? If the quota is not opened, will the contest be repeated next year?
No the maximum number of entries is 100, however there is a wait list of entries as we anticipate there will be a number of drop outs and late submissions, and this is where entries on the waiting list will be able to participate in the competition. rise in the city is likely to happen again next year, although we do not yet know the nature of the competition as yet. So please check the website on a regular basis and sign up for our newsletter.
B5.I’ve been looking at the website and project description brief and was curious if it’s possible to do a team student submission?
Registration is for individuals, however it is totally acceptable for that person to work in collaboration with a group. Please note though, that the registered entry has to take the lead when it comes to communicating with the architecture firm who will be mentoring. In addition the prize is a trip for one person not the group.
B6. How many students can enter in this competition from the same university?
There is no limit to the number of students who can enter from the same university.
C1. For the competition, the block that the student has signed up for, is the student responsible to create a community of low income housing for the entire block, or for just one design for the urban housing?
The purpose of the competition is to come up with a replicable housing unit which can be used on multiple sites. Please refer to the answers to questions A3 and A10 for more details.
C2. Is it possible together with the housing project, to offer an urban planning proposal?
As answered in C1 it is up to the participant to come up with a replicable housing project that can be used either individually or combined to create other forms of urban dwellings.
C3. Should we show how the unit can be built as a row, cluster etc on this site plan?
Please refer to the answer to question C1.
C4. How many housing units are to be considered minimum and maximum per block?
There are no minimums or maximums for each block, however we would expect that if you decide to place multiple housing units in one site or building to explain why you are doing so.
C5. Are we to design housing as in apartments or houses for multiple family and not just one right?
Please refer to the answer to question C1.
C6. Are exterior spaces included in the maximum area? Do covered exterior spaces and site walls count toward the total area?
Exterior spaces are not counted for the maximum area of each housing unit.
C7. Is it allowed to go more than a floor e.g 2 floors?
Yes, since we have set no height limitation, but please bear in mind accessibility of multi-storey projects and customs and habits of the way people live. Two storeys with no lift would be acceptable, but above that it would start to prove a challenge and this is meant to be a low-income housing project in keeping with the local context, culture and identity.
C8. What family demographic are we building this for? Textile workers? Farmers?
Average household size of 4 people. Since this is for urban housing the residents would be factory employees.
C9. Do you have a list of sources for the brief? ie. UNDP report on Lesotho/Maseru, housing guidelines, social conditions of affordable housing areas
Please refer to page 9 of the competition brief for the resources which were made available for the competition.
C10. What do we have to do with the building control act and national housing policy PDFs in our design?
The proposed projects must comply with Lesotho’s local building regulations. More information on these can be found in a link published on page 9 of the competition brief.
C11. Do we have to implement bylaws also in our design? If yes ,do we have to implement bye laws of our place or Maseru?
Please refer to answer to question C10.
C12. Should we imagine a project on a site where resources and needs are already present (electricity, septic tank, wastewater), or do we have to include it in the budget as well ?
As stated in the competition brief “Basic electricity and connection to sewage or septic tank available at each plot.” You can also consider that mains water supply is also available.
C13. Do I have to offer specific materials and how the project was made and to make a quantitative value account?
This is an ideas competition, so it is important that you provide as much information as possible as to how your design would be built. In doing so, this will also allow you to better estimate the overall cost of the design.
C14. In what detail should the interior of the housing unit be developed?
We have requested that plans for the housing unit be submitted at 1:100, and that an indicative construction detail be presented at 1:20. Besides these elements you can choose whatever other scaled drawings or graphical elements to best illustrate your proposal.
C15. Just to clarify for the booklet which can be no more than 6 A3 pages, is that 6 single sides, or 6 sheets of A3 making 12 A3 sides?
6 single sides of A3 paper.
C16. Is the approximately 48 square meter requirement meant to include net or gross area of the space?
The 48 sqm are meant to be the Net area (ie. the usable space inside the housing unit).
D1. We were considering using recycled material. Would there be any restrictions or construction codes we would have to adhere to? I haven’t been able to find much online.
The houses will need to comply with the Lesotho Building Regulations. A link to these can be found on page 9 of the Competition Brief.
D2. Based on the information I have found, Lesotho is one of the forest-less territories in Africa. Do you have any information about the local soil and what plants would be appropriate for there?
Despite listing water as a natural resource (mainly collected in 3 large national damn projects) Lesotho has for many years had draught problems, and soil conditions are poor. Much of the country has a mix of sandstone and clay as a substrate so plants suitable for poor soils and extreme climates are recommended.
D3. Do you have the contact to a contractor or mason person in Maseru we could ask local construction questions. Wondering if they use sheetrock, like they use in the USA. What are local building materials available, etc.?
Unfortunately we cannot provide a contact for a local construction person who could answer individual questions. That said, sheetrock (a type of plasterboard) is available in Lesotho. An online search for Builders Merchants should provide you with a list of some simple high street materials that are available.
D4. What is the availability of sandstone in Maseru?
Sandstone is widely available in Lesotho. It can be finely cut (more expensive) or used as uneven rocks (fairly inexpensive).
D5. What is the availability of bamboo for construction in Maseru? If available, then what species can be used as structural bamboo?
There is limited availability of bamboo in Lesotho. The most common types of timber are sawn pine and gumpoles (eucalyptus) both are imported mainly from South Africa.
D6. About the material price and budgets. I have already made a list of all materials the house would be needed. Can you take a look and tell me some local construction material in Lesotho?
Unfortunately we cannot comment on individual proposals directly. Please refer to your mentor for feedback.
D7. I am having trouble finding some manufactures in order to complete a more realistic cost effective house in the field of toilets and cooking elements.
The cost estimate part of the brief is there to ensure that participants keep within the ‘spirit of the brief’ and provide low cost housing solutions. We do not expect the costing to be 100% accurate, that said a simple online search for Builders Merchants should provide you with a list of some simple high street materials that are available.
D8. Is it possible to know technical information such as normal thickness of walls in Lesotho, list of basic functional spaces in a typical home, available local materials, available local crafts, and the like?
Regarding wall thicknesses, traditionally walls were built of adobe, or sandstone and were 300-500mm thick. However recently many houses are built with full-brick thickness externally and half-brick internally, or with concrete blocks 6” or 9” thick. These more recent technologies have been mainly self-taught and actually do not provide suitable insulation for homes in Lesotho, so please be inventive with your proposals.
As for available trades, you can pretty much expect all the trades you’d find in a small town anywhere in the world, there are thatchers, bricklayers, masons, steelworkers, carpenters, plumbers, electricians and so on. Specialists are available too (at a high price), so probably not to be considered for this project.
E1. Is it possible to have detailed and budgeted information about the country’s natural building resources (wood, earth, stone, reed etc.)?
It is very hard to provide an exact list of available materials, and prices for the competition that would suit all participants, and which would not influence entries towards one material and away from another, as prices of materials can vary widely, based on whether they are bought in a Builder’s merchant, or sourced directly (for example stone or adobe bricks).
In any case, and as we have had many questions about this same subject please find below a list of key indicative prices for a few standard items:
– Reinforced concrete suitable for ground bearing slabs, and strip foundations (including sand, cement, rough snad, crushed stone and reinforcement) costs approximately M1695.00/m3.
– Block work walls (including 6” blocks, sand and cement mortar) cost approximately M205.00/m2
– Sand and Cement render of Brick or Block walls costs approximately M60.00/m2
– Sawn Pine Timber Rafters cost approximately M24.00/m
– Roof Sheets of Good quality (IBR) cost approximately M140.00/m2
The above list is not meant to be exhaustive and we encourage all participants to be creative about their choice of materials. More sustainable solutions than concrete blocks are available, locally made fired bricks can be bought and a wall made of these can cost less than half of block work wall, and if one thinks about it Adobe Bricks and Mud Render can be made almost for free, with a bit of knowledge and by using the dug up material from foundation trenches.
Besides these guidelines, and as mentioned already above a quick online search for Builders Merchants in Maseru (or South Africa for that matter) should provide you with a list of simple high street materials that are available and can be used as reference for your cost estimates.
E2. It is pretty hard to imagine local market and google does not help. Would it be possible to get some kind of a price list for materials and labour?
Please refer to answer to question E1 for some guidance on the prices of materials locally. Those indicative prices already account for materials and labor costs, if however you are thinking of strategies where you may be obtaining free or donated materials, then you could consider a day rate of M140/day for one skilled labourer.
E3. The cost which is mentioned in the brief. Do we have to implement the cost rate according to where we are staying or do we have to take the material rate of Maseru?
As the objective of the competition is to design low-cost and sustainable housing units for Maseru, please estimate the cost of building your ideas in Lesotho.
E4. Since there is a specific budget, do we have to provide a budget breakdown to show the approximate cost of everything or is the budget just for our own reference.
As listed on page 8 of the Competition Brief, one of the deliverables is a Project Cost Estimate, so we expect you to provide at least a simple elemental breakdown of the budget for your design, and if required an explanation of how you have arrived at those costs.
E5. Is it possible to have information about the budget in general, what does it need to include material, manpower, transport etc.?
Each design will vary, some strategies may involve just using materials which can be found on the site, hence have very limited transport costs, others may choose to rely on strategies for using self-build schemes, thus making the labor costs hard to account for, so what is expected is a short elemental breakdown of costs and justification as to why you are saying your cost is ‘low-cost’ and meets the brief.
E6. Is it possible to compare elements with current constructions who are on the territory in terms of budget? How should the budget of $3,750 be split?
As noted above, using vernacular technologies, and locally sourced materials can provide designs which have material costs which are very close to zero, so participants need to be creative as to how they come up with their designs.
With regards to how the budget is presented, participants can choose to present the budget divided, into labour, transport and materials, or present it like a simple Bill of Quantities where each item includes all three as a ‘supplied and installed” item. It is also possible to present the budget in a an elemental way, with prices per m2 for each major element (walls, roof, floor, windows, etc). The choice of which model to go for should be taken based on your design strategy and choosing the best model which will allow for a better understanding of how you plan to build your design, and which best justifies the costs for the design.
E7. How “affordable” are we supposed to go about the exterior designs and landscape work, for instance access routes and amenities?
The external landscaping was not taken into account in this LSL 50,000 / $3,750 budget, so please consider only strategies that can be self-implemented by the future inhabitants of the house.
As for access routes to the site, and servicing, please assume that these are already provided.