Thesis Update

Ali Price

Thesis Studio

Spring 2011



Original Thesis Statement:


The intent is to use architecture to cultivate social growth, opportunity, and prosperity. I propose an architectural process that achieves this by involving the community (people and culture) of Arusha, Tanzania in the design process, construction phase, and continually through the activities and relationships that exist in and around the built structures.



New Focus:


The intent is to use architecture to cultivate social growth through program and design. I propose to explore the program to establish an efficient prototype then test it on Arusha, Tanzania by infusing culture, collaboration, and most importantly cultivation.


Exploration of the program will consist of research of tested and theoretical prototypes. Four levels will be defined: shipped containers, kit-o-parts, mixed, built on site. Finding the appropriate adaptation of the prototypes will have to allow for cultivation to transcend into the construction. To emphasize the importance of the community, the prototype will be adjusted to allow for the infusion of people and their environment into the plan. Construction methods will be able to be performed by community members and materiality will reflect its environment.



Key Terms to Explore: community, culture, environment, sustainability, adaptability, polyvance, prototype, social growth, component, linkage, infuse, connector, catalyst


Programs Three Cultivators: dwelling, healing, and learning with social implications connecting the three programs.


Element that Melds Program with Site: Cultivation (people, climate, topography, culture, activities, etc)




Proposed Schedule:


(January 24–30)

Week One:


  • design concept/ strategy (diagram)
  • precedent study once focus is reached
  • meet with Maire, Ralph, and David individually


(January 31- February 6)

Week Two:


  • precedent studies put into book layout
  • plan studies
  • diagram plan ideas
  • group meeting Tuesday at 10:30



(February 7-13)

Week Three:


  • diagram plans
  • spatial relationships/ organization
  • infuse activities/ circulation/ private vs public
  • have group meeting (REVIEW)


(February 14-20)

Week Four:


  • plans, sections, elevations
  • attempt to turn plans into real building (three dimensional)
  • test three very opposing spatial concepts



(* February 21-27)

Week Five:


  • material studies
  • construction methods (diagram process, assembly, transport, resources, etc)
  • mock-up facade (aesthetic) variations through materiality



(February 28- March 6)

Week Six:


  • site studies/ analysis
  • talk to Austin about photographs
  • group meeting (REVIEW)



(March 7- 13)

Week Seven:


  • place on site, adapt
  • test plan and infuse culture, climate, and social activities (cultivation)
  • site model with building



(March 14-20)

Week Eight:


  • Spring Break!!


(March 21-29)

Week Nine:


  • revisit prototypes
  • precedent studies (prototypes, construction, program, theory)
  • research any missing links



(March 30- April 3)

Week Ten:


  • develop design
  • physical model
  • update book with current research, precedents, design processes
  • group meeting (REVIEW)


(April 4-10)

Week Eleven:


  • design development
  • book development


(April 11-17)

Week Twelve:


  • research
  • design development
  • book development
  • group meeting (REVIEW)



(April 18-24)

Week Thirteen:


  • design development
  • book development
  • final site model




(April 25- May 1)

Week Fourteen:


  • design development
  • book development
  • final building model
  • print boards



(May 2-8)

Week Fifteen:





The proposed schedule requires four group meetings/ reviews then a final review. Individual meeting will be conducted each week (or every other) to seek additional guidance.







This website shows a steel shipping container that has been turned into an internet cafe. It speaks of it;s connectivity as well as efficiency. This is located in Arusha, Tanzania.


“I was really impressed with the finish work in these units. To be honest, when I first heard I’d be shooting internet cafés built from converted steel shopping containers, I didn’t have very high expectations. I love the prefab structure idea, but a shipping container?! That can’t be good. But I was so wrong! These have insulated and sheet-rocked walls, recessed halogen overhead lighting, air conditioning, comfortable chairs and of course wickedly fast and reliable 3G internet connections. One savvy entrepreneur in Arusha even made room for a small Pepsi branded refrigerator that he sold cold soft drinks from. Brilliant!”




This website shows a plan prototype that has been adjusted to accommodate a community in South Africa.


“Through the use of legos as a visualization tool students were able to communicate their feelings about hospitals and schools in their communities.  I identified a need for a sense of security, cultural pride and eradication of the impersonal hospital environment as important principles to incorporate into a new building prototype.”


“Presently the conceptual design will be used as a tool to help Zimisele fundraise for their community programs and building fund.  Through the use of local building materials and methods the construction of the building can generate job opportunities for Umlazi residents”




The project above is a competition winner that utilizes containers for the architecture’s structure and is filled with sustainable contraptions such as water tanks and other essential “western” supplies. The process is one of many phases (phases integration). During this process the containers are adjusted to suit the vernacular (mimicking assembly and aesthetics) then is applied with different tactics to fight against the spread of AIDS through schools, community centers, and clinics.

Educational, Medicinal, and Social

To create a dialogue with the actual building structures and the community is essential to help the town of Arusha. The two programmatic structures of the project are educational and medicinal needs.

1. EDUCATION: The education center, a separate building, will house a library, computer room, and a multi-purpose room (that can serve as a conference room, office, and small classroom). Internet is uncommon for many people in Arusha, so providing this access tool will educate its users tremendously, connecting them to other countries in the world. In the learning center, the main goal is to educate people to better care for themselves. This process will not be static, but an evolution of teaching skills. For example, here people can educate themselves how to take better care of their family’s health as well as advancing their academic studies.

2. MEDICINAL: The clinic’s program is a very common layout for outpatient clinics in the region. Such needs include a pharmacy, examination rooms, ward, kitchen, laundry, etc. In addition to the clinic, this building will house dormitories for children. This portion of the program is occupied continuously.

3. SOCIAL: The physical space in between the two buildings is integral to the success of the project. Creating an atmosphere of caring, teaching, learning, and growing is essential. By using public space, the programs can begin to influence one another. The landscape can provide playground for the children on one side and a learning garden on the other side. Perhaps the two can interweave? By inviting the community to use the facilities, these structures can house opportunity and communal growth.

*The goal is to use architecture to facilitate social growth as well as provide programmatic services.


Hello! First, I would like to welcome you to my journey. This blog is meant to assist me and inform others with my graduate thesis project. I have been given the opportunity to design a clinic and education center in Tanzania, Africa. Working with the organization Feed The Children, we will create a building that not only serves for its programmatic needs but also promotes the community.

Feed The Children’s mission is to “deliver food, medicine, clothing and other necessities to individuals, children and families who lack these essentials due to famine, war, poverty, or natural disaster.” The building is meant to serve three functions: medical clinic, children’s dormitory, and education center. With these activities within the building, my hope to find a way to bring the community into the project.

Tanzania, located in Eastern Africa is home to 36 million people. Nearly 85% of the population is living in rural areas. The country has one of the highest infant-mortality rates in the world (109 in 1000 births) and life expectancy is 44 years. With most of its people in rural areas, the distance to travel to a medical clinic is problematic. Many families have to travel 37 miles to their nearest clinic, resulting in many preventable deaths. There is only 1 physician for every 20,511 people in Tanzania. Medical access is essential.

Within the complex, an education center will be implemented. A library and computer lab with internet access will provide the community a place to educate themselves as well as be taught how to take care of themselves. The concept is to give them the tools to succeed and promote progression.

My hopes is to create a place where the community feels a proud connection to. I want the buildings to be not only a place to get immediate relief, but a place for the people to grow from. With modern medicine, technology, and design this structure can promote the community in many positive ways. I will be researching how to accomplish this through design. Architecture can serve the social realm as much as it does the program of the building.