"planting future" Uganda, vocational school with guest house and forestry farm

The Project "planting future"

Students from the Technical University of Munich, the Munich University of Applied Sciences and the Augsburg Technical University of applied Sciences in cooperation with the Uganda Martyrs University and the children's aid organization Kids of Africa, which has been committed to families, education and the well-being of children in need in Uganda for twenty years, have developed a multifunctional project in Buhweju, in the Ugandan highlands.

Although the project was originally intended as a hostel with a hotel management school, the COVID-19 pandemic led to a functional expansion. Both homes and workshops were built locally on a hill with a view, in the middle of a forest area run by Kids of Africa. In recent decades, large parts of the rainforest in Uganda have been cut down, so our additional reforestation with more than 2000 indeginous trees of more than 20 different native tree species is making an important contribution to environmental protection.

On this hill, youth from across Uganda will gather to gain practical experience and receive career guidance. In addition to forestry and agriculture, which is practiced all year round, specialised courses in textile design, plumbing, carpentry, mechanics and other craft techniques are offered. The students of the participating architecture faculties from Germany and Uganda planned this project based on the model of the Anglo-Saxon design-build studios and began it with the support of local craftsmen over the last four years as part of construction site excursions with the aim of using the “build together and learn together” concept to realise the project.


The Design

The design envisaged three clusters of buildings that form small groups of houses similar to traditional Ugandan villages:
- The cluster with three guest houses each with bedroom, bathroom and terrace, each with different views of the landscape and a common forecourt with entrance areas and pergolas.
- The learning and living cluster with classroom, living and dining room, kitchen, multifunctional room, bathroom and sleeping
  area at the central village square.
- The living and working area with workshops and living quarters for the staff at the entrance to the ensemble.

Each functional unit represents an individual building and their arrangement creates an enclosed outdoor space that faces the open landscape. The architectural language makes it possible to translate and define these three occurrences -the exterior space, the space in between and the interior space. A combination of flooring, plant troughs, a wall or a pergola each shape the space in between. A noticeable spatial distance within each ensemble is necessary to give weight to the village square with the avocado tree as a central meeting point, as well as to allow the private residential units the necessary privacy. The combined working and living areas form another cluster as part of the whole, according to a similar principle.

Modularity and flexibility are important aspects of the design concept. Similarly, the construction is also conceived in a modular way. The brick supports, which are derived from the structure and the spacing of the roof trusses, are decisive for the design. A prerequisite that made it possible to realise this project in several construction phases, always allowing a full functional unit to become reality. Especially in times of the pandemic and the resulting shifts in the construction phases and building use, it became clear how important this modular approach had become.

Technical Description


In the first two building phases the buildings were planned using the local brick construction method. Here, the bricks were formed directly on site from the clay of the soil, stacked to form a tower - a firing kiln - with a void and then fired on site. However, because local bricks are not traditionally formed in Uganda with modular ratios of length, width to height, we made a mould based on the „normal format“ and used it to form the clay bricks.

The supports of the buildings reflect the axial dimension of the roof trusses, which were constructed from local eucalyptus wood as trusses with small cross-sections. Wide roof overhangs protect the brick on the weather sides, and the front sides are given a brick-lined attic, as we also find in the local houses in Buhweju. Roofing made of grass, which was initially considered, was discarded due to the need for high roof pitches and high installation costs required. Therefore, the trapezoidal iron roofing sheets, commonly used throughout the country, was chosen, and was covered on the underside with papyrus mats for visual aesthetics, protection and sound insulation. The natural ventilation of the building is ensured by means of a perforated brick wall above the ring beams. The water supply is guaranteed thanks to large cisterns and tanks, and electricity is generated by a photovoltaic system. Thus, the entire ensemble operates self-sufficiently.

The third construction phase saw the planning and execution of the landscape designs as well as the installation of the interior fittings and other outdoor facilities. In this phase, the pergolas of the "Learning" and "Living" areas were completed and with the planting of the avocado tree, the "village square" was inauguarated as the central meeting point.

In the fourth and final construction phase, a pavilion and the third guest house were planned and built. However, with the environment in mind, compressed earth blocks were proposed as opposed to burned clay bricks that were used in the first and second construction phases. These blocks were made on-site by adding a soil mix of dump murrum, additives to a compressing machine. The main advantage of using this type of building block is that there is a reduced negative environmental impact because there are fewer CO2 emissions involved in the making of the block and the use of less mortar during contruction. The pavillion utilised organic materials such as eucalyptus and thatch that are widely available and popular for traditional construction in Uganda. This material palette emphasises a natural aesthetic and reinforces the design's connection to nature and the local culture.

Overall, the approach towards the construction of the third guesthouse and Pavillion focused on environmental and social sustainability, with an emphasis on the use of local materials and labour, and the adoption of more sustainable construction practices. 


Students from the Technical University of Munich, 2018 - 2022: Denise Duggan, Ann Kathrin Eberhard, Sophia - Maria Elender, Anna Hägele, Martina Kavrakova, Jonas Kögl, Maria Ladygina, Antonia Manthey, Anna - Maria Mayerhofer, Rosa Modersohn, Manuel Mota, Students from the University of Applied Sciences Munich, 2020: Andreas Reiser, Benedikt Benker, Students from the Technical University of Applied Sciences of Augsburg, 2022- 2023: Julian Reich, Sarah Pfänder,Karla Dornmair, Patrick Matthias Eydig, Benedikt Hutter, Yelyzaveta Prosandieiva, Stefan Bauer, Simon Hammer, Pia Marie Jürgens, Rebecca M., Students from The Uganda Martyrs University, 2020 - 2023: Rhinehard Agira, Mike Nyalundja, Priscilla Nabachwa, Elvis Bwambale, Essy Tracy Atuk, Elisee Hekima, Pacific Nakure, Joy Norah Najjuka, Juliet Ange, Bridget Mercy Amony, Mark Niwamanya, Crichton R., ASA Scholarship Participants 2023: Marilyn R. Aber, Uganda; Anna Leu, Bremen; Eva Kasbauer, Munich; Deniz Yildirim, Stuttgart; Frank Mutanda, Uganda; Serena Kamagaju, Uganda, Site Managers: Michael Arzberger (2019 - 2022), Rebecca Farina Arnold (2022), Elias Rubin (2022), Anna Weisbrod (2022), Roland Miller (2023)
Kids of Africa
Burkhard Varnholt
Collaborating Organisations
Sto Foundation
Private Sponsors

Academic Discipline(s)
Architecture and Planning
Environmental Design
Energy Efficient Design (E2D)
Civil Engineering/ Construction Technology/ Bautechnik
Academic Level(s)
Bachelors & Masters.
Academic Facts

Site / Structure Dimension
Plot area: 10,000 m²
Constructed area: 665 m²
Gross floor area: 372 m²
Net room area: 257 m²
Usable area: 257 m²
Living space: 73 m²
Gross room volume: 1085 m³
Number of storeys: 1
Number of buildings: 7
Other Structures: 1 (Pavilion)
Pavilion Gross Floor area: 201 m²
Pavilion Gross room volume: 2143 m³

Type of use: Training building with workshop, training room, kitchen and 2 guest houses.
Energy concept: Power supply with photovoltaics, solar thermal energy.
Regenerative energy sources: Photovoltaics, solar thermal energy, cisterns for rainwater.
220000 €
25000 €
In Kind
Companies: STO Stiftung, Festtool GmbH, Metabowerke GmbH, Nimbus Group GmbH, ELTEN Sicherheitsschuhe, GIMA, Knecht Druck, Vectorworks Computer-Works GmbH, Schokooh Erding, Marien-Apotheke, Caspar Geyer Grundstücksgesellschaft mbH, CO.MOD Architekten GmbH, Wagner Möbelwerkstätten GdbR, Computer-Works GmbH, Georgi Kavrakov und Kollegen GbR, Fa. Benno Wimmer Metallbau, Götze Hadlich Architekten, Gnädinger Architekten, Planungsgruppe Heilmaier, Florian Nagler Architekten GmbH, Romer Architekten GbR, Hofmann Naturstein GmbH & Co.KG, Braun GmbH Industrie-Elektronik, Polo-Villafan Sprachschule, H2M Architekten und Stadtplaner GmbH, Roland Ort Unternehmensberatung, Institut für Beratung und Training in Unternehmen GmbH, TRILUX GmbH & Co.KG, djb Architekten GmbH, Hummel Kraus GbR Planen und Beraten,Edenred Deutschland GmbH, Gebhardt Bauzentrum Spkmsp GmbH & Co.KG, PROMOS - Programm zur Steigerung der Mobilität von deutschen Studierenden, Stahlbau Süssen GmbH, Brechensbauer Weinhart und Partner Architekten mbB, stoecklearchitekten PartGmbB, Werner Sobek AG, Leihwerk München, Schnitzer & GmbH.
Other Budget
Private donors: Bauen für Orangefarm e.V., Beate Grentzenberg-Rauch und Thomas Rauch, Georg Johannes und Maria Wietheger, Gilbert Leick-Lesch, Helga Haardt, Bettina Winde, Irmgard und Rudolf Gügel, Astrid Mudler, Dominique Nosal, Dr. Thomas Elsner und Dr. Beate Meinhold Elsner, Markus Fagner, Dr. Roman und Martina Hubertus, Korbinian Höltl, Susanne Maschmeier, Franz Grassl, Jutta Göttlicher, Jan Henrik Svenungsson, Hardy Rudolf Schmitz und Barbara Schmitz-Burckhardt, Victoria von Gaudecker, Majella Stockhausen Riegelbauer, Neven Raic und Regina Wagner-Raic, Becker Horst, Karl-Friedrich Weiß und Monika Weiß, Dr. Wiebke Freiesleben, Dr. Hans-Michael Seiler, Vera Leinfelder, Zilling Villelabeitia Laia, Dr. Walther Pohl, Dr. med. Heiner Freiesleben, Kai Christian Brockstedt, Johannes Modersohn und Antje Freiesleben, Tamara Reich-Haas, Burkhard Jostes, Constanze Kruger, Madeleine Julia Hofbauer, Björn Schreiter, Dr. Ing. Jürgen Graf, Peter Klaß, Dr. Hans-Michael Thomas Seiler, Felix Johannes Claussen, Natalja Helmel, Sybill Claussen, Dr. Michael Noth, Helga Haardt, Wendela Freiesleben-Albrech, Xochitl Jose Lara Kraudy, Dr. Vassiliki Savvas, Ludger Tholen, Claus Ortmann, Bernhard Huber, Dorte Zimmermann, Micha Schöler, Marianne Weiterer, Wilhelm Fedorak, Andreae, Emily, Luisa, Wolfgang und Karoline Gügel, Aslan Tschaidse, Marcus Pelzl, Edeltrudis Tritscher, Bertram Rosler, Ingeborg und Frank Rothbächer, Dr. Karin Behringer und Dr. Bernhard Behringer, Martin Gastberger, Johannes Gerhaher, Christian und Petra Aubry, Hans und Monika Andres, Maximilian Maier und Dr. Susanne Mühlhaus, Andrea Jocher, Hans Albert Wechner, Felix Manfred, Hannelore und Peter Schergun, Dr. Dieter Vierneisel, Stefan Gerich, Alexander Pfletscher, H. und K. Langgartner, Rüdiger Fritsch, Friedrich Moertl, W. und G. Epping, Michaela Voltenauer, Chri. Heberer-Erhard, Susanne Pfander-Schewe, Martina Schuhboeck, Martin Rey und Ingrid Leitgen-Rey, Frieda Schmied, Jürgen Steinbach und Stefanie Fischer-Steinbach, Ulrike Bayer-Fleischer, Herta Weichwald, Ulrike Mühlbäck, Bernhard Deckelmann, Isolde Zacherl, Gemeindienst e.V. des Rotary Club Pullach-Isartal, Klara Boksan, Jeannette und Michael, Stefan Haberlander, Bernd und Janett Berger, Pia Christmann, Martin Xaver Huber, Matthias Hümer, Stefanie Weidner, Jasmina Katayun Salamat, Sarah Sophie Seiler, Ralf und Michaela Ehrler, Prof. Dr. Ing. Thomas Jocher, Brigitte Stegmann, August Modersohn, Eva Rottenwalter, Greta Sommerhäuser, Fabian Hermann, Nicolaus Seiler, Mona Alphéus, Moritz, Caroline Einhäupl, Paula Claussen, Alicia Baumgärnter, Adel Modersohn, Sibylle Meimberg, Stella Haude, Catharina von Cossel, Christophe Leick, Jean Nau, Teresa Martin-Agueda, Jan Schuette, Lisa, Jan Svenungsson, Katrin von Maltzahn, Vincent Hoffmann, Veith Bleffert, Lukas Huber.
Project Start
Length of Preparation Phase
One semester before construction
Length of Planning/ Design Phase
2 semesters
Length of Construction Phase
4 Building Phases (2019, 2020, 2022, 2023) - 6 weeks per building phase
Other Skills
Environmental Design & Landscaping
Project Context
Care / Education | Hospitality | Agriculture / Foresting / Gardening
Construction Methods/Techniques