Myself and fellow Autodesk CTO office colleague Gonzalo Martinez were recently on an Octo Copter research project
(Capturing Ancient Remains in Kenya with a Remote Octo-Copter) on the remote Northern border of Kenya just 5 miles from Ethiopia which is about as far as you can get from civilization, and hot. I joked how to get there was to fly to the middle of nowhere on a small Cessna plane 5 hours, get in a Landrover and turn East drive four hours and that’s where we were.
One thing I observed which was amazing and resourceful, is that they are constructing some research and study buildings, schools, as well as medical facilities by the Turkana Basin Institute. Materials are an issue as it can take over 4-5 days by truck to get materials to the job site and they are expensive so people have learned to make most of their own from what they have available locally.
Instead they make their own including compacting, shaping, and the drying of the bricks.
They did not have any construction documents just some simple sketches created by Dr. Richard Leakey and frequent construction oversight by Dr. Louise Leakey.
The only things brought in were some raw materials and glass and rebar but the rest was created from local resources as was all the power from solar, wind and limited generators. Water was from stored rainwater or pumped deep down from a well and then reverse osmosis to remove the high levels of salt and fluorides.
It was amazing how well these buildings were constructed and the different construction methods in the blazing heat.
Under these difficult conditions and constraints, they manage to construct nice buildings using entirely local people.
They are the ultimate Makers creating amazing things from scrap materials they can find. I met Martin who had created a nice camera tripod using only scrap pieces of materials he was able to find. Martin is not even an engineer just a very smart local. The tripod worked as well as most commercial ones and was also customized so they could photograph ancient fossils and some from hominids our millions year old human ancestors.
So when you go to the building supply store or the construction site, just think of how some are self sufficient in materials and power and do not have access to most materials or equipment.
It was truly inspiring.