This summer, the Kissosso neighborhood in Conakry, Guinea, welcomed a distinctly different home clad entirely in bright green corrugated metal. Its interior, decorated with vibrant traditional West African fabrics and prints, stands in stark contrast to the neighboring metal and concrete shacks. Built entirely by and for the residents of the slums, it’s the first of its kind — a prototype for what a recent Berkeley graduate in architecture, Aboubacar Komara, hopes will soon be hundreds of low-cost, sustainably built homes for some of Conakry’s most vulnerable populations.
Kaloum Bankhi, or houses of Kaloum, is a low-cost housing concept designed and developed by Komara, who earned his B.A. last spring in UC Berkeley’s College of Environmental Design. He was one of five winners awarded the Judith Lee Stronach Baccalaureate Prize, which supports the intellectual and creative pursuits of recent graduates by funding projects that advance the work they began during their undergraduate studies. Komara put his $25,000 prize money towards the project, which he sees as a transformative concept for an area stricken by poverty, overpopulation and a lack of proper sanitation.
“A passion for giving back to my community has always been significant to my life, and I try to connect back to it in everything I do,” explains Komara. “I thought of this as an opportunity to solve a big social issue in Guinea.”