Compact Housing in the Informal Settlements of Maputo / Casas Melhoradas

© Johan Mottelson © Johan Mottelson
  • Architects: Casas Melhoradas
  • Location: Maputo, Mozambique
  • Lead Architects: Johan Mottelson & Jørgen Eskemose
  • Area: 230.0 m2
  • Project Year: 2018
  • Photographs: Johan Mottelson
  • Other Participants: Architects without borders - Denmark, Estamos, KADK - The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, School of Architecture – Institute of Architecture, Urbanism & Landscape
© Johan Mottelson © Johan Mottelson

Text description provided by the architects. Casas Melhoradas is an applied research project on housing for low-income groups in the informal settlements of Maputo, Mozambique with a three-fold focus:
1) developing alternative construction methods to improve the quality and decrease the cost of housing;
2) developing housing typologies that utilize space and infrastructure more economically to initiate a more sustainable urban development;
3) engaging in the construction of affordable rental housing through public and private partnerships to scale up the impact of the project.

© Johan Mottelson © Johan Mottelson
First Floor Plan First Floor Plan
© Johan Mottelson © Johan Mottelson
Second Floor Plan Second Floor Plan

The project is carried out by the Institute of Architecture, Urbanism & Landscape, at KADK - The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts Schools of Architecture, Design, and Conservation; the Mozambican NGO Estamos and Architects without Borders, Denmark. The project’s latest housing prototype was completed in 2018 and consists of a low-rise high-density row-housing typology with six dwellings on a plot where there would otherwise reside a single family. Accordingly, the project demonstrates how space and infrastructure can be utilized more economically and thereby counter urban sprawl and the growing infrastructure deficit.

© Johan Mottelson © Johan Mottelson

All the dwellings have small private outdoor areas with kitchens, as cooking is largely an outdoor activity in the informal settlements of Maputo due to the use of charcoal. On the ground floor, the kitchens are placed on the verandas next to the street, adding a semi-private transition zone between the public and private. All kitchens are equipped with gas stoves to reduce air pollution and deforestation caused by the use of charcoal. The project has small common courtyards with shared bathrooms and laundry facilities.

Section A Section A

The project has a green roof where an additional floor can be added, which ensures the project a robustness in case further urban densification should be relevant in the area. Furthermore, the evaporation from the roof improves the indoor climate in the dwellings. The project was built using locally produced compressed earth blocks. Thereby, the energy consumption in the construction process was reduced while adding the same red color tone of the local soil to the project. 

© Johan Mottelson © Johan Mottelson