Impressionen von SICU (Fotos: Bauhaus-Universität Weimar und EiABC)

SICU – The Sustainable Incremental Construction Unit is a housing solution made entirely of prefabricated elements. The solution uses locally available and locally produced building elements. It is provided as a semi-finished construction that the homeowners then complete themselves. Simple building elements and a clear construction principle using prefabricated concrete elements (foundation and columns) are combined with lightweight timber frames and readymade wall panels with integrated windows and doors.

It addresses the needs for participatory design through a process-oriented building typology. In the current implementation, with its accompanying business model and level of dissemination, it is possible to self-build the basic housing unit in less than two weeks using a mixture of local small businesses and participation from the local community. Almost 90% of the building components have been specifically designed and sorted for convenient development by micro, small-scale and medium-sized business enterprises.

Given that imported building materials, expensive customized processes and inflexible cast-in-situ systems currently predominate in the building sector, this shift presents a cost-efficient and faster alternative for the construction sector. All prefabricated building elements come in standard dimensions according to a modular system.

The modular design concept makes it possible to use for very dense and small plots and it can be used in combination to achieve economies of scale and create larger, flexible aggregate structures that fit into the surrounding urban structure.

Careful and intensive preparation work preceded the processing and manufacturing of the elements to ensure that non-professionals can undertake construction and assembly using well-known connection techniques and that components match standard dimensions.

A detailed building information model (BIM) and a process model guarantees a consistent quality of production, predictable production costs, and programmable time schedules. Construction manuals, and business and financial investment plans are derived directly from the digital project model. All plans, details and manuals are made available at the SICU Open Source platform (

Architects and implementation: Bauhaus-Universität Weimar, institute of experimental architecture (ifex) in collaboration with EiABC, Addis Ababa University

Project head: Prof.Dr.Ing. Dirk Donath

Location: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Year of construction: 2013/2014 (2 units)

Construction time: Two weeks

Area: 86.00 m²

Extension space: 30.00 m²

Material: Pre-fab elements out of concrete foundations and column, Eucalyptus rips with plywood sheets, Eucalyptus frame, prefabricated, highly compressed straw panels, Light timber frames and claddings (prefab), rubber, metal sheets, compressed wood

Budget: 7,000 USD (first floor finished, ground floor incremental)

Credits: strawtec plc Germany, SIKA waterproofing materials plc Addis Ababa Ethiopia, AEE Dawit Kebede Addis Ababa

Projekfilme auf Vimeo: