Feature: Functional Living Spaces

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REAL ESTATE MINUTE–With Cyril Nii Ayitey Tetteh

Fellow Ghanaians, it’s another week and in keeping with the last few weeks, I am here to share another interesting session from the 3rd Ghana Green Building Summit.

In choosing a building design, ever wondered why buyers or builders fall into the beauty trap?; why the form of a building takes precedence over function?; what causes the gap from paper to site?; are developers more focused on financial gains as opposed to adoption of a human focused approach in residential design?

In order to find a middle ground, where form and function can be interwoven to create a win-win for both developer and homeowner, we explored the topic of functional living spaces with our expert panel: Kofi Anku, Real Estate Investor & Partner At Ayi Mensah Park, Ghana; Foster Osae-Akonnor, Board Chair, Ghana Green Building Council and moderated by Christabel Dadzie, Social Protection Specialist and Founder, Ahaspora.

Yard and community spaces

 With space becoming an expensive commodity, yet top of buyers’ lists, Kofi Anku provided insight into a trade-off measure employed at Ayi Mensah Park.

What they did was to make some of the private areas like the garden space within the actual house units smaller in trade for a bigger communal park area limited to the 200 residents in the community. “The benefits of the trade-off were clear in the sense that assuming you wanted to entertain 20 people, 40 people, you didn’t necessarily have to do it in your home but rather at the communal club house which gives you access to bigger space. You could even hold wedding receptions and family events ensuring that you even make savings on transportation and other rental fees” Kofi added.

Lighting

The panelists also reemphasized the importance of daylighting. Foster expanded on the concept of passive design strategies. According to him, plans should always be devised to draw in natural light, even for small area buildings. “90% of homes in Ghana are small and as soon as you enter the living room you have to turn on the light, the spaces are crammed because you don’t have what we call visual continuity”

Design (Square V Angular Shapes)

Foster further expanded the concept of design economics to drive the home the point that there wasn’t a straightforward choice between the two. “The square shaped building doesn’t have a lot of cutting so in terms of construction there is flexibility as well as reduced of material usage. One of the disadvantages having a square shape is that, if the building’s windows are not protected or not shaded, then you tend to admit more heat into the building and that has an effect on the energy usage in the building.”

The primary driving factor for choice of square designs are the initial cost element but then because your windows may be exposed directly to the sun you end up using a lot of energy which then increases your bills, affects the environment negatively by draining the national grid and thus becomes more expensive in the long term.

Windows and Ventilation

Both speakers gave useful tips on how to achieve cross ventilation. Kofi shed light on their fused approach whereby they shaded the front porch which then opens right out onto the living space with a nice sliding glass door but with windows that have magnetic mosquito nets that can be lift opened inside and then push the windows out.

Foster advised a fusion of the two by looking out for the orientation, prevailing wind direction before installing windows accordingly to achieve cross ventilation so that even louvre blades can be used at any point of the house to draw in and circulate fresh air.

Scents and the Kitchen

 In these localities, where we cook a lot with different kinds of strong aromas, having a kitchen that offers good space as well as good ventilation goes a long way to make time spent in the kitchen comfortable.

For Kofi, this was a key decision to design each home with two separate kitchens. An open kitchen for light meals and one that opens to the backyard for heavy cooking and more traditional meals.

Foster also mentioned that extractor fan can be utilized to sap out strong scents especially where there are open plan kitchens. He encouraged all home owners to consider these fans and not be intimidated by cost or other perceptions of it being luxurious.

PRESENTED by Kofi Anku, Real Estate Investor & Partner At Ayi Mensah Park, Ghana; Foster Osae-Akonnor, Board Chair, Ghana Green Building Council and moderated by Christabel Dadzie, Social Protection Specialist and Founder, Ahaspora.

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