Salaama Vocational Educational Centre (SVEC)

Project: Salaama Vocational Educational Centre

Location: Lyantonde

Architect: FBW Architects and Engineers

Part I:

Qn: What did you love about the architecture of the place?

  • The logo of the institution was kept in the design.
  • A style of the buildings was kept [consistent]; from the gateman's structure to the dining hall in which [this style] is at its peak. 
  • I loved so much the scale of buildings on site. It is so friendly. [There are] single story buildings. This helped so much to appreciate the context, the views of the hills and green.
  • Then, I loved the storm water drainage: they are so serious with storm water collection. Since it is an institution, water is so much needed.
  • I liked so much the colours and the way they used them. The mortar was left in its true nature for some of the buildings. For the buildings next to the gardens, green was brought in to communicate with the context and then purple caught my attention for the institution's design buildings.
  • When it came to the dining hall at the peak of the site, a new material was introduced (stone) and a combination of a curved wall under a firm rectangular steel structure was used to celebrate the eating period.”

- By Mukwaya G. Ernest, Student member USA


Part II

When I think of the language used in the buildings, Francis Kere (and his work in Burkina Faso) comes to mind. The dining hall is especially magnificent with its stone cladded walls and iron sheet roofing supported by steel trusses that is installed with a gap over the top of the wall. There are also the really large overhangs made by the roof. I bet this building is always really comfortable. The walls are constantly shaded by the overhangs so they don’t absorb as much heat as they would if they were left exposed. Also, the way the building breathes through the gap between the top of the wall and the roof together with the large windows of Pompeii grills is just pure genius. This building is making my heart race with excitement.

One of the questions that constantly surfaces is the way traditional Ugandan architecture can be translated into modern building. I think this is it! The traditional house of grass thatched roofs had large eaves that covered the short walls (a purely functional design choice). They were also kept fresh because they would breathe through the cracks in the mud walls and the blades of the grass and the spaces where the roof joined the mud walls (that had good thermal retention properties).

On the other hand, there is the aesthetic that the designer chose to go for: I feel like it was a fight between having pure function dictate the aesthetic using the exposed structural members, and then he decided: well, let the building also be pretty! And so he added stone cladding and painted some of the walls purple! It doesn’t actually matter. In the end, the building is a beautiful: like a dub-step remix to a Vivaldi piece.

By Christine Matua, Student member USA


Photo Credits: Mukwaya G. Ernest

For more information, visit: www.fbwgroupcom/projects/educational/lyantonde.html and