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The Kumbana Makerie 

Kumbana Makerie will promote creativity, a sense of well-being, and inspiration, while maintaining a warm, welcoming, and sustainable environment. The aesthetic will reflect and respect traditions, culture, nature, and craft, while incorporating streamlined elements to create an overall authentic yet progressive space. Attracting both locals and visitors, Kumbana will be the pride of the Gatunga and a destination spot that fosters women empowerment and community growth.

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This project is the remodel of an existing building that is approximately 3000 square feet, and owned by Kiriga. The building is in the center of Gatunga, a village in Tharaka Nithi County and houses the Kumbana Makerie. Gatunga has a population of about 2000 and during market day draws many more.  The road from the main highway to Meru National park is currently being paved and runs through the center of the village. This park boosts one of the largest populations of elephants and was the site for the movie Born Free.  


The Kumbana Makerspace will consist of a shop for the women to sell, workshop areas for them to make kiondo (baskets) and other marketable goods, a sanitary kitchen for making soaps, lotions, and oils, café, a large meeting hall, and the new home of TWWP. The intention is to provide a space for members of TWWP to gather, build skills, gain creative confidence, and ultimately change their perception of their own ability and agency in the community.


The main function of the Kumbana Makerie is to empower the women of the Tharaka-Nithi County and enable them to pay school fees and help support their families. They will have access to the training and equipment needed to make soaps and lotions, baskets, rugs, mats, and jewelry. The ultimate goal is for this project to serve as a successful model, for community makerspaces.


Kumbana will serve as an educational center for the Tharaka-Nithi County community. The space will host a variety of workshops on issues such as: tree planting, nutrition, and food security. All of the trainers are Kenyan and able to provide information that is sustainable, relevant, and relate-able. 


It is anticipated that tourists on safari will take this route to Meru National Park. Tourists will have the opportunity to buy locally made products directly from the makers, enjoy nutritious homemade snacks and beverages, and learn about the cultural traditions of the region.  The local community will also have access to the workshops, the gym, computers, and the cafe. The meeting hall will be available for rent and host recurring events such as movie night and local plays. 


The cafe will be run by local women and include healthy, locally sourced foods, as well as, culinary training opportunities. The community is welcome to enjoy the gym, rest at the cafe, participate in educational workshops, and shop in the store. For the women who sell at Kumbana, this income generating opportunity will help them support their families and bring income back into the community. They will be able to send their children to school, buy fresh food, hire a seamstress or a carpenter, and pay for healthcare services. 


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Building  Details:   Remodel and New Construction.  One story.  4560 sf. Building location is near the equator in an arid region of Kenya.  


Materials: stone, stucco, and steel.  

Program Details:   Workshop spaces for skills training and production of sellable goods.  Multi-purpose room for large meetings, presentations, classes, and community events.  Food kitchen for training and to produce goods for the cafe.  Retail space to sell baskets and other goods to anticipated tourist traffic as well as locals.  Four rentable retail stalls to providing income to make the building self-sustaining.  

Design Objectives:  Most buildings in this town are single unit shops that are smaller than the proposed structure.  Varied materials are used to segment the building into individual massings at a scale similar to surrounding structures.  Parapet, shed roof, and decorative ventilation details reference local styles.  And, locally produced materials are employed.  


Environmental:  Substantial parts of the existing building will be reused. Passive ventilation through clerestory windows.  Solar PV electric generation.  Water harvesting.  Heat reflective metal roof.  


Economical: single story, truss construction with limited new foundation work.  

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