Project: Sustainable & affordable housing

Michaela Kargbo is an Electrical Engineering Intern at the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) on the Rural Renewable Energy Project in Sierra Leone. She obtained her BEng in Electrical Engineering from the Fourah Bay College-University of Sierra Leone 2019.

She grew interest in design, and decided to pursue Architecture at the Limkokwing University of Creative Technology because of the numerous opportunities it offers in her country. She wants to be part of a new generation of designers that will shape the country’s image through architecture as it is one of the most pressing issues faced today.

Michaela has continuously been involved in community development initiatives and other empowerment programs which she co-founded like Waste Connect SL Ltd, undertaken an online course on climate change from the Young African Leadership Initiative, and her ‘Eco Affordable home’ project got featured on UNDP Accelerator Lab Social Good summit in 2019.


The Eco-friendly houses will help families who live in less comfortable surroundings by developing budgeted concepts that enhance homes’ looks. The design concepts are described below:

  • Passive Solar Design
    A south-facing structure and large overhang that encourages natural ventilation. Use windows for warmth and light. Earth brick walls with high thermal mass help to even out temperature fluctuations between day and night, making them easy to heat and cool.
  • Design for the Environment
    The roof floating has been designed to maximise natural ventilation whilst deflecting the heavy monsoon wind and rain and is angled so that rainwater can flow into the water collection channels. A grass layer reduces the effects of erosion.
  • Energy flow and Renewable Energy
    A solar hot water tank provides hot water for the bathroom and cooking. Rainwater is collected for use within the home and for the garden in the courtyard, which helps provide some of the family’s food.
  • Environmental Impact on Material
    Traditional clay-building techniques were modified and modernised in order to create a more structurally robust construction in the form of bricks. The clay bricks have the added advantage of being cheap, easy to produce, and they also provide thermal protection against the hot climate.


The idea for the project came after listening to the mayor of Freetown opening a space for women to contribute to a climate change mentorship initiative.

For some reason, a great percentage of Freetown is full of structures that hinder the image of our culture and the climate. Moreover, buildings are currently responsible for more than 40% of global energy and one third of global greenhouse gas emissions (IPCC, 2007). Sierra Leone's climate is humid and mostly very hot and most of the houses were not designed to sooth the comfort of occupants. I wanted to take on the challenge to design aesthetic and yet functional homes for families.


Sustainable construction means responsible supply, operation and maintenance of buildings that meet the needs of their owners and users over their lifespan with minimal unfavourable environmental impacts whilst encouraging economic, social and cultural progress. I personally believe sustainable construction should be made mandatory. A sustainable building has no negative environmental, social or economic impacts. It produces all the energy that it needs, and it does not create waste but recycles everything.

Given that buildings consume about 40% of energy global, we can leverage the benefits sustainable housing present in order to reduce our carbon footprint thus committing to a more sustainable planet.