Two years ago I visited the Kingdom in the Sky when a lot of snow had fallen. Young boys were chasing their sheep, while their mothers prepared bread to share with us. There were few men, one of them playing music. The others had to work in the big cities we were told. The people of the village were wearing thick blankets to keep themselves warm and kindly invited us to their homes.
When I came across this competition for affordable housing in Lesotho, I immediately knew I wanted to participate. I remembered the melancholy among the Basotho families that were forced to live separated, struggling to survive on the countryside with its age-old traditions. For them I wanted to come up with a dignified solution for a more dense way of living in the city.
The design process of this competition has been very inspiring. I learned a lot about Lesotho, its culture and living traditions. When I decided to work with Maseru’s red sandstone, I studied how to use rammed earth, a beautiful construction technique. Half-way the process I had a great consultation with architect Hermann Kamte. I want to thank him for his inspiring advice.
Affordable housing seen not only as a necessity, but as an integral part of the future cultural heritage of Lesotho: that is what this proposal is all about. More than a rational answer or quick solution it offers a piece of poetry and architecture that ages with dignity and lives on in the memory of the Basotho people. New ensembles rise in the city from the red earth Maseru is named after, boosting the local market and forming incentives for public life in their neighborhoods. The Sesotho traditions are translated to an urban setting, being elevated to a next level.