• What We’re Up To

    The world is populating and urbanizing at exceptional rates and has been for quite some time. Affordable, clean, safe and comfortable housing is a concern for everyone. At Montana State University, we are interested in this challenge and are working with colleagues in Montana and Kenya to study how straw bale may play a more significant role. We are interested in urban-rural linkages and how architecture can engage with these existing systems at socioeconomic, cultural, spiritual, and material levels. The posts you see here will document our learning experiences during the summer of 2012. The program is administered and taught by Assistant Professor David Fortin of the School of Architecture, and coordinated in Kenya by MSU alumni Michael Spencer, now president of Studio RE. Kevin Brustuen of the Office of International Programs at MSU has been invaluable in terms of overseeing the program. We are also extremely grateful for the guidance by Red Feather Development, based in Bozeman. Not only do we get to work with them for a week in the summer, but they openly continue to provide advice and moral support throughout our efforts.

Kuza Nyumba Construction

Although the MSU program is not returning this year, straw bale projects are continuing to be built -http://www.standardmedia.co.ke/?articleID=2000083233&story_title=thermal-comfort-in-straw-houses. Please contact Kuza Nyumba Construction kuzanyumbakenya@gmail.com

Day 25 – Kenya – Rain, Rain, Go Away

Monday, July 23, Today we woke up to fog and drizzle. We had some running around to do and also ordered more materials to finish up the second duplex. So, Erik, David, Michael and I headed to the clinic while Melissa and Tory stayed and worked on our course readings. We left Erik at the … Continue reading

Kenya – Day 23 – Safari Day One

July 21st- The safari begins! Today after much waiting and anticipation, we got to go to our safari. The morning started off slowly because we were still hosting the people from the UN, and Ken Okoth and his wife. We had a relaxing breakfast that our wonderful cooks made for us, and then David, Erik, … Continue reading

Kenya – Day 22 – Plastering Winnie’s and A Dinner Party!

Our Friday got off to a very slow start as Erik finished up a pamphlet on what we are doing to be printed up. Unfortunately it never did get printed bc all the color printers we have access to are not working. We all headed up to Winnie’s around 10am where I discovered I had … Continue reading

Kenya – Day 21 – Stacking Walls Plus Elephants

Thursday, July 19 – We woke up at 7 and had our typical Weetabix, Corn Flakes, fruit, eggs, and juice and discussed what we might be doing today. It had rained last night a little so we weren’t sure if we would be stacking bales due to moisture. After breakfast, we loaded up approximately 15 … Continue reading

Kenya- Day 20- Matumba!

Wednesday, July 18, Today was another round of rain. We woke up this morning only to find that we were socked into the fog. We didn’t really know what the day had in store but we had a hunch that it would rain. We were planning on getting the rest of the 250 bales to … Continue reading

Kenya – Day 19 – Plaster, Rain, Wait, Repeat

July 17th- The theme of the last two days has held strong. Plaster, rain, wait, repeat. When we first arrived at the site, we had to take the straw bales out of the duplexes so that we could start plastering on the interior. A few part time workers were hired on today to help us … Continue reading

Kenya- Day 18 – Where did all the bales go?

As we all know Monday’s never run as smooth as we plan them, but in Kenya you ask yourself ‘Why did even I bother getting out of bed?’. The morning plan was to plaster until lunch then after lunch get the 250 bales for the other house so we could stack the following day. As … Continue reading

Kenya – Day 17 – Day off to Rutundu

We had a little bit of a sleep-in today with an 8am breakfast. Melissa worked her magic in the kitchen to make some delicious French Toast. We then all packed into the vehicle shortly afterwards and headed to (more) remote Kenya (well, a 2 hour dirt road drive anyways) to Rutundu in the distant foothills … Continue reading

Kenya – Day 16 – Plaster Masters Part II

July 14- Our breakfast today was our biggest in a while, since we stocked our kitchen yesterday.  We each had our fill of corn flakes, Weetabix, toast, mangoes, apples, and bananas.  After breakfast, we headed to the health clinic for our second day of plastering.  We wanted to get a second coat of stucco on … Continue reading