Iowa State of Mind: HYT Partners with Major U.S. University

Posted on August 14th, 2017

When HYT graduates arrived at Iowa State University (I.S.U.) campus in Kamuli, Uganda, they were not greeted by the flurries of students, society gatherings and introductory seminars that might be expected. A troop of monkeys larking around in the trees was the closest thing to student life in the area, and the only learning taking place was how to leap safely from one branch to the next. That’s because construction had not yet begun. It was HYT’s job to build the campus’ hallowed walls, and to do so with as little disturbance to the natural environment as possible.


Iowa State University Top Wall

As HYT’s construction manager at Iowa State University site, Johnny has been tasked with constructing the walls!


I.S.U.’s campus in Kamuli is to be an agricultural training centre, where rural farmers and their families can learn how to grow food more effectively and sustainably. It makes sense for HYT, as recent award winners in sustainable building, to take part in the project, ensuring that construction doesn’t spell destruction for the local environment.


Iowa State University Wall

HYT is committed to low-impact, high quality construction across all of our projects.


The first semester, typically for HYT, began with making blocks for the wall which, like the rest of the campus, has been expertly designed by Studio FH Architects, and skilfully managed by Dudley Kasibante & Partners Ltd. Once the manual press arrived from Makiga, red marram subsoil, dug from the site itself, was mixed with sand and a little cement to make compressed earth blocks (CEBs). These are more conventional, cuboid versions of HYT’s innovative interlocking stabilised soil block (ISSB). The masons may have been CEB freshmen when they started the project but, as seniors in sustainable construction techniques, it didn’t take them long to study up and master this new challenge.


Iowa State University CEBs

The manual press moulds strong, consistent compressed earth blocks, unlike traditional firing methods.


In fact, the group has taken to the new method like a college rowing team to water, making as many as 500 blocks in a day, and a total of over 30,000 during the course of the project. Manufacturing the same amount of fired bricks, the traditional building material in Kamuli, would require 42 tonnes of firewood, or more than ten mature trees!


Iowa State University Blocks

Block production went through the roof in the early stages of the project!


Curing bricks, rather than firing them, is a great way of avoiding deforestation, but it’s not the only one. Every tree on the ISU campus has been numbered and, where possible, preserved in its original position. Project Manager Johnny Nsubuga is particularly proud of where the wall has moved to accommodate the existing foliage. His conscientious approach to building proves that you don’t need to move mountains to protect the planet, only a few bricks.


Iowa State University Tree

Johnny demonstrates where he has adjusted the wall to preserve the tree behind him.


The term is not yet over for HYT masons at the Iowa State University campus, and they are committed to maintaining A-grade construction throughout. Until the campus comes to life as a centre for education and innovation, HYT will continue to work diligently and create an accommodating environment for the site’s future inhabitants, as well as its current ones!



Iowa State University Building Line

Johnny supervises the building line at Iowa State University’s Kamuli campus.

A Little Bit about Lake Site

Posted on July 7th, 2017

As May ended, and term resumed, the HYTeam attended the opening ceremony of Lake Site Primary School’s new latrines. Funded by Peter Bond, the 5-stance toilets and washroom will vastly improve the school’s hygiene and sanitation, particularly for girls. Here in Uganda, adolescent girls are often driven away from class by the inconveniences attending poor washing and sanitation facilities.


Old Lake Site Latrines

Lake Site’s old latrines (right) suffered from the usual drawbacks of the burnt brick, unlike our ISSB technology (left)!


Work started on Lake Site in January 2017 with a team of 5 masons. Each had been selected from Kamuli district’s unemployed youth, and each had gone on to graduate from HYT’s ISSB training programme. The team was carefully compiled of graduates with varying experience levels in order to maintain quality while developing the skills of the individuals.


ISSB Bricklaying

Nelson graduated from HYT’s 7th training programme at Nakibungulya, and now works on projects such as Lake Site.


HYT’s masons at Lake Site stressed the contribution of the school’s enthusiasm, involvement and support towards the project’s success. To instil attitudes of responsibility and care for structures, HYT requests schools to provide such essentials as feeding and security. The school did so wholeheartedly, fuelling the builders with regular meals straight from their own HYT-built kitchen. It is much easier for teams to carry out their crucial work when they are well-fed, and working in a pleasant and supportive atmosphere!


Lake Site Administration

Lake Site HM Mr Kakuma brings the local chairman on one of his regular visits to the site.


Lake Site’s willingness to cooperate in the project was characteristic of their attitude towards school development. Peter Bond continues to support the school because it works hard to remediate its difficulties, despite their magnitude. HYT has also been impressed by the use and maintenance of our structures, as well as the institution’s own building initiatives. Lately, the school has begun construction on a perimeter wall to safeguard its children, as well as the facilities upon which the community increasingly encroaches.


Lake Site Wall Building

As HYT worked on the latrines in front, Lake Site Primary began to construct the perimeter wall behind.


Lake Site’s dedication to looking after its campus assures us that the opening ceremony was not only an expression of gratitude, but of commitment. It is up to them to continue providing the care that HYT has put into all the structures, old and new. By the looks of the HYT kitchen built in 2012, the new washrooms will last a long time. By the looks on the faces of the girls, they are a huge improvement to their quality of life at school. Our thanks go out to the masons, school administration, Peter Bond and all involved for making this another successful HYT project!


Lake Site Opening Ceremony

The girls attend the opening ceremony for their new structure at Lake Site Primary.