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Up-Down Houses

The Gambia

Project Architect, Ingvartsen Arkitekter (+ Jakob Knudsen, Otis Sloan Brittain) Experimental

University of Durham

Constructed

03.2018 - 06.2020

12m2 x4

As the majority of malaria infections in sub-Saharan Africa are acquired indoors,finding effective ways of preventing mosquito house entry is an important aspect of reducing transmission. Since most malaria mosquitoes fly less than 1m from the ground, the study group led by Professor Steven Lindsay (University of Durham, UK) wanted to test whether raising buildings off the ground would prevent the entry of Anopheles gambiae, the principal African malaria vector, in rural Gambia.

 

My role in the project was to design a small experimental house which could be lifted via an easy to use mechanism to specific heights off the ground. The main parameters were that the house had to be lightweight and reflect the design of homes in the region. The house was designed to be constructed from timber frame with plywood walls and corrugated doors and roof, resting on a steel platform and lifted by a frame and controlled by hoists. The house was designed to be lowered swiftly in event of a tropical storm.

 

Following the completion of 4 experimental units, the houses were winched at different test heights and nightly collections of mosquitoes were made using light traps. The subsequent study paper, published in Journal of The Royal Society Interface in 2021, concluded that mosquito house entry declined with increasing height, with a hut at 3m reducing anopheles gambiae house entry by 84% when compared with huts on the ground. A propensity for malaria vectors to fly close to the ground and reduced levels of carbon dioxide, a major mosquito attractant, in elevated huts, may explain the findings, which suggest that raised buildings may help reduce malaria transmission in Africa.

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