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ZIA Attends the Launch of the Automation of Construction Permitting System by LCC

The Zambia Institute of Architect (ZIA) was invited to the official launch of the Automation of the Construction Permitting System by the Lusaka City Council (LCC) on Friday 4th January 2019.

The launch was graced by Honorable Vincent Mwale, the Minister of Local Government and ZIA was represented by Architects Kelly Kalumba (President), Griven Sikalumbi (VP), Dennis H. Nyekele, Imasiku Kamayoyo and Vunda Kachele (Council Members).

According to the brochure distributed by LCC at the ceremony, the Automation of Construction Permit is the shift from handling and processing applications for development manually to the use of online interaction and computerised system.

The processes to be computerised includes-

  • Application to develop land
  • Application to subdivide or consolidate land
  • Application for Change of Land Use
  • Scheduling of Stage Inspections
  • Obtaining Occupation Certificates

The system is a two way interface between the applicants and the various Council Officers responsible for working on the applications. The applicant will be able to submit and track online the progress of the application up to the approval stage.

Applicants are expected to create an online account through which enquiries, submissions, payments and tracking of the application will be made.

According to the brochure some of the benefits of the Automation system are-

  • Reduction in the period processing application from 90 days to 30 days for subdivision and change of use and from 90 days to 28 days for permission to develop land
  • Ability to track progress of the application by the applicant
  • Reduced demand for storage space for hard copy drawings by LCC
  • Increased efficiency in service delivery by LCC

To obtain more information about the system visit the Lusaka City Council website at and possibly register as a user.


Practice of Architecture in Zambia – Public Notice

The general public is informed that it is a crime to provide Architectural Services in Zambia in a manner contrary to the provisions of the Zambia Institute of Architects Act No 36 of 1995 (Cap 442) and Statutory Instrument No 106 of 1999 of the Laws of Zambia.

With reference to the aforementioned act only Architects and Architectural Firms registered with the Zambia Institute of Architects are allowed to offer and provide Architectural Services to the general public. Consequently the public is advised to relate only with members of the Zambia Institute of Architects for such services.

Those found to be in breach of the above mentioned laws will be prosecuted. For more information the public is advised to contact the Zambia Institute of Architects’ Secretariat on telephone no 0211 254512, cell 0966 650728 or email


Practicing Architecture in Zambia

A Practicing Architect (or Firm) is a Registered Architect offering their Architectural Service to the public. In order to practice, a Practicing Certificate or Licence is issued to a Registered Architect by ZIA after complying with the relevant and necessary requirements. The Act also provides a Code of Professional Ethics and Conduct that prescribes how Registered Architects and Firms are expected to conduct themselves when practicing and generally offering their service to the public. For instance, like Lawyers and Medical Practitioners, Architects are not permitted to directly advertise their services to the public but generally rely on their ability and achievement to market themselves.

ZIA has published a Zambian Hand Book of Practice for Architects (Volume 1) which provides Architects a systematic and appropriate method of executing their services to Clients from inception through to completion. In the hand book the services of a Practicing Architect are structured into two sections namely Job Running and Contract Administration.

Job Running explains the documentation and procedures that are involved from inception or commission of a project with the Client right through to Project hand over and review at completion. The Contract Administration section provides practical guidance on the administering of the building contract which is the agreement between the Client and a Contractor giving rise to obligations to each other enforceable at law. For private projects the hand book recommends the use of the JLC Standard Form of Building Contract while for government projects the GC Works Form of Contract is used.  

A Practicing Architect has the direct and individual responsibility to faithfully and diligently carry out his or her duties undertaken in accordance with the terms of engagement with their Client. Architects also have a third party duty of care to persons expected to use or enjoy buildings and facilities designed by them. For example an Architect has a duty of care to provide an access ramp for use by the disabled on wheel chairs even on privately owned buildings. It is for this reason that Architects like Lawyers and Medical Practitioners are expected to practice under the Sole Proprietary or Partnership Type of Business and not as Limited Liability Companies. With the general appreciation of who an Architect is and what it takes to practice Architecture in Zambia follow up articles will explore the tools and standard documents that are available for an Architect to practice their profession and effectively serve their Clients and the public in general.


How two architects are using Kickstarter to build hope for communities in need

Over the last few years, New York City architect Danny Collins and his colleague, Javier Roig, have spent their vacations building homes in under-developed regions around the world, volunteering in Cambodia, Zambia, and Nepal. Often, they personally financed the projects, which were typically building single-family homes in needy communities.

That’s how they got the idea to launch Project Latitude, a non-profit that creates products inspired and made by people in struggling areas. All proceeds from the sale of the products go back to the communities, where the money is used to meet the area’s construction needs.

“It’s our response to how volunteer trips are funded,” Collins tells Yahoo Finance.

While traveling in Ecuador, Collins and Roig were so taken with the area’s culture and natural beauty, that they made helping the South American country their inaugural project. 

Inspired by the rich colors and textiles of the Andean Highlands, they designed a backpack that they say reflects the lifestyle of the community. The backpacks are handmade locally, and all of the detailing is made from 100% recycled car tires.

To fund the project, they set up a Kickstarter campaign. On April 17, 2016, one day before it was supposed  to go live, a deadly earthquake hit Ecuador. Project Latitude quickly adapted its campaign to help with the relief effort.

“Our passion is in Ecuador right now,” says Collins. “And we decided that we are going to transition some of the funds from the Kickstarter campaign to help the victims both in a short-term response, as in water, food and shelter, and hopefully a longer-term response.”

Rather than building single-family homes, Project Latitude plans to focus on public works and recreational spaces along the coast of Ecuador. “We want to travel there and see what it is they need,” Collins says.

The Kickstarter campaign raised $12,500 within its 36-hour goal. “We’re not looking to stop there,” Collins says. “We’re looking to make a bigger impact on the community. We have high aspirations for the rest of the Kickstarter campaign.”

They hope to add more items to the Ecuador product line and eventually branch out to include volunteer projects throughout Latin America.


A Career in Architecture

Dennis Nyekele MZIA
Practice Matters

Architecture is the art and science of designing buildings and the person who practices Architecture is called an Architect. Architects ensure that the buildings they design are functional, safe, and meet the needs of the people who will use them.

Architects also assist their Clients in selecting suitable contractors for their building and during construction they inspect the works to ensure that the builders strictly follow the design and specified materials as well as meeting the acceptable work quality standards. In Zambia the practice of Architecture is regulated by the Zambia Institute of Architects under Cap 442 of the Laws of Zambia.

The history of Architecture goes back thousands of years ago, when man created primitive shelters for protection from the environment. However with the environmental concerns becoming more and more important to many, most Architects now ensure that their buildings have as much reduced impact on the environment as possible, both at design and during the construction stages and when is use after completion.


An Architect is engaged by a Client to design buildings who give the Architect an idea of what he wants. He then starts the designing process where some Architects use old fashioned pencils and tracing papers during this process, while most them now use some type of computer aided design (CAD) software.

In Zambia the Copperbelt University (CBU) offers a five year Bachelors of Art Degree in Architecture. The O level subjects generally required to pursue the Architectural programme are English, Maths, Geography and some Sciences. Background in Technical Drawing may provide an advantage but is not necessarily a requirement.

The degree programme includes courses in Architectural History and Theory, Building and Environmental Design, Structures, Building Technology and Construction Methods, Professional Practice, Analytical Maths and Surveying. Cardinal to the Architectural programme is the Design Studio, where students apply principles and theories learnt in the other courses to present design concepts, drawings and three-dimensional models of their projects.

After completion a Graduate Architect undergoes internship training for at least two years under the supervision of a Registered Architect. This is necessary for one to be considered for registration by ZIA. The Graduate Architect is thereafter expected to sit for the Professional Competence Examination after which they are admitted to the Institute.

Employment opportunities for Architects are available at Private Practicing Firms, Buildings Department, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health, National Housing Authority, National Heritage and many Other Parastatal Organisations like ZNBS. One can also set up their own Firm or join existing practising architects to set up Partnerships.


ZIA Honorary Treasurer (2014 -16)


Moving Foward Together: A Sustainable Way Foward for the Architectural Profession

In Zambia, as well as in the rest of Africa, western materials and construction techniques are rapidly replacing traditional ones, even in remote areas of the country. Traditional materials and construction techniques have connotations of being substandard with a significant number opting to use imported materials and even foreign consultants. With the influx of Computer Aided Design (CAD) packages , globalisation and architect collaborations with international clientele, it is evident that in just a few generations traditional techniques will continue not to be passed on to future generations and this part of Zambian culture could only a memory.

The Future of Design Incorporating 

Nature using a Taxonomy

Taxonomies are based on organizing things with shared characteristics. Zambia has a rich culture with 73 tribes existing peacefully and a tremendous mixing of cultures, which includes a mixing of architectural styles. These should be preserved via documentation and understanding why these traditional architectural relations work. It is imperative to see that traditional materials have the strength, comfort and beauty of modern applications. Once we discover and expose the content and context of all the current designs, this would inform all the next designs. A change in perception has the potential of supporting a vernacular architecture. Adding context to taxonomies reveals not only what things are, but also expresses what they are for, what they do, and how they work. People must be convinced that these structures are safe, structurally sound, beautiful and less expensive in the long run. Only then will people build in the vernacular, which is close to nature and is region specific.

The embracing of vernacular architecture with keeping at par with advancements in CAD can sustain-ably lead Zambia into the future.

Nature fundamentally designs by taking the best existing solution to a problem and iterating. The future of architecture is approaching an age where the entire building team, which could be based in several countries and of diverse disciplines can operate seamlessly as though they are under one roof by using the same Building Information Model (BIM) and infinite cloud computing, where one change in one area of the 3D model proposed by any member of building team, will simultaneously initiate a change in all associated consultant drawings whether it be structural, bill of quantities, mechanical or interior design views. Globally technology is heading towards the sophistication levels of nature, where instead of starting a design project from scratch, we could start by accessing every design, schematic, asset, and idea that has ever been created, to help solve one particular unprecedented design challenge. This can be done if we have a (3D) digital library to refer to, as being done presently in some mega western cities, with the aim to better plan future urban developments, while integrating daily, monthly, seasonal and annual data.

Real-time rendering, such as with Twinmotion, allows the client to virtually walk around their proposed structures, test out their kitchen space or virtually walk around the presidential suite of a new five star hotel, months or years before constructions are complete on site.

Added to this BIM models would be able to reference local mechanical engineering textbooks, building codes, supplier catalogues and real world examples, to solve our construction problems using our context, rather than coping and pasting foreign ideas.

Let CAD Do More of the Work for You

Zambian designs need to explore all of the solutions that optimize performance for our local conditions. CAD system eLearning and installation files can be found online at times for free. Added to this investments in conferences, such as the annual Autodesk University (AU) conferences, where over 16,000 attended last year (#AU2014), representing at least 74 countries around the world. Zambian designs need to evolve. But first we have to stop “telling the computer what to do,” and instead, start “telling the computer what we want to achieve.” With Generative Design, by giving the computer a set of parameters that express your overall goals, the system will use algorithms to explore all of the best possible permutations of a solution through successive generations, until the best one for that particular typology and situation is found.

Create Living Designs that Sense, Respond and Collaborate

Zambia, like the world, is constantly changing and yet our designs are dead designs or planned obsolescence that are not keeping up with these changes. The current solution, as with everything that is no longer useful, is to just throw out the old and bring in a new building. The fundamental difference is that the things we design now and make in the future must do three things: Sense, Respond, and Collaborate. A lot of people would call this the Internet of Things. Because the term implies a false hope of an emergent experience, what we really need is a “Community of Things” — a collection of individual entities designed to actively and purposefully work together. Incorporating climate, culture, available resources. Consequently the building team will set the stage for future generations to reach their potential sustainability.

Combine Nature and Technology

Looking ahead, our co-opting of Nature will eventually become more of a two-way cooperation, as the twin engines of technology and Nature are increasingly inter-twined, in a mutually beneficial dynamic. This is just the beginning. There are whole territories ahead where we can take Nature’s strengths and extend them with technology’s power: creating things that transcend the limits of both. Let us encourage continued learning and research in the field. On the one hand this sounds like some fairly mind-bending concepts, but on the other hand when we look closely around the globe, we can see that it has already started. The well designed built environment has the ability to promote health and well being, improve social norms and boost the economy. As a building team, it’s our job build today in our minds one click at a time, the Zambia we want to see tomorrow.

Chilombe Simwami MZIA, MSc, BSc Hons


What is safety to you?

Regardless of your profession in the construction industry or other industries alike, Safety by definition will vary from one individual to another but what stays the same is the need to keep the workforce safe from harm’s way so as to keep production running at full capacity as well as a means to stay clear of lawsuits which can be costly to foot through legal charges and compensations.

Personally, safety when simply put is Personal Protective Equipment (PPE, hereafter), or at least that is the first step. PPE is an ensemble of “adult-ware” gear worn by workmen so as to provide them with some level of protection from potential hazards which might exist within or around their work space.

Since construction is an equally sensitive industry, most if not all professions within this industry and other industries alike are required to provide PPE for their entire workforce in order to keep them safe as this ultimately translates into high production.

In my profession of an architect though; Work suits, Hard hats, Safety gloves and Safety boots is what amounts to PPE. Other professions especially those of the heavy duty kind will go on to demand for Safety goggles and a Respirator.

Safety Gloves
Work suits come in various sizes to fit various body sizes, from small to extra, extra large. These suits now come specially tailored for the two sexes of male and female, and they also come in distinct and copyright colours; which alone means that most establishments have corporate colours to identify each other by. My employers have lime green to identify their employers by and orange to identify firms contracted to them. Work suits are striped with a deep luster on the surface about the knees of the trousers and about the arms of the coat for enhanced visibility at whatever time of the day.

Hard hats on site are a must-have, and they should be made available to everyone present – especially near the work area – from the workforce to visitors. Hard hats provide protection to the head from falling objects so as to avoid head injuries.

Safety gloves might rarely be used on construction sites due to not attracting as much attention as the other gear do, but they are just as important, and like any other pair of gloves, these give protection to the hands and wrist area from cuts, abrasions and other hand injuries that might be caused during handling, i.e. handling of concrete works and handling of steel works. Because of what safety gloves have to handle, they are made of material with a rough texture for better gripping.

Protection to the foot area is offered by Safety boots from falling objects and from stepping onto sharp objects as and when carelessly placed on site. It would however be worth noting that safety boots need to be high tops (ankle highs if you will), and with a metal brace at the front of the boot for better protection since the main area of protection are the joints.

For works with small flying pieces that might be harmful to the eyes and the face generally, Safety goggles are recommended. These are only effective as when used on select types of projects. A pair fresh off the shelf will come with it rubber brackets to hang around the neck for support.

With the respirator, this works better at a plant or a mine. It is often used on works with high grime generation levels to shield the workman from inhaling contaminants. Regardless of the name, the respirator does not supply oxygen; therefore it is best used in a work space with generous oxygen supply so as to avoid suffocation.

Remember, safety at the work place ought to be of the utmost importance because a healthy workforce translates into a high return on the production and lawsuits are avoided.

Ngonga Kapalu


African Architecture

Africa was probably the place where people first built any kind of building, because people lived in Africa before they lived anywhere else. But those early huts didn’t last. The first buildings we know about are from Egypt: small stone tombs known as mastabas, built about 3000 BC. Egypt was first, because Egypt was the richest part of Africa, where trade with West Asia was easiest. By 2000 BC, people, maybe migrants from Spain and Italy, were also building stone tombs all across North Africa.

By that time, the Egyptians had moved on to building pyramids. The Egyptians started building the Pyramids about 2600 BC, when the Pharaohs first became rich enough to feed the huge numbers of people who must have worked to move all that stone. Nobody knew how to build walls and columns that would hold up a heavy roof yet, so the Pyramids are solid stone: that’s the easiest way to build something big.

A thousand years later, trade and wealth were spreading further south. African kings and queens in Nubia (modern Sudan) built mud-brick palaces at Kerma. They couldn’t afford to build in stone yet, but they could build in mud-brick. The buildings at Kerma have many rooms, and show their designers experimenting with circular buildings and rounded apses.

By about 2000 BC, architects in Egypt learned how to build temples using columns. At first they built temples of wood, with tree trunks for columns. Later they figured out how to make imitation tree trunks out of stone. Even the stone temples temples generally had wooden roofs, so that the roof would be lighter and the columns could hold it up. These were more expensive than mud-brick, but much cheaper to build than pyramids, because you didn’t need so much stone. Egyptian pharaohs built many temples and palaces during the New Kingdom, around 1500 to 1200 BC.

People in other parts of Africa were building houses and temples too, but they couldn’t afford the workers to build in stone. They built out of mud or wood, and their buildings haven’t lasted.

Read More on African Architecture


Function of Walls in Constructing Houses

THERE are two recent developments in the construction of houses in Zambia that seem to have received wide acceptance by most developers.

Firstly most houses are now being constructed out of 150mm thick concrete block work external walls and secondly there has been a tendency to construct all walls up to wall plate level only with no walls being taken up to the underside of the roofing sheets.

The justification advanced by most builders and developers has been that this method of construction has resulted in some “cost savings”.

In construction building economy is one of the many other considerations taken into account in the design process and therefore cost alone ought not be the sole criteria for evaluating the architectural quality of a building.

This article therefore examines the implications of this trend in the construction industry.

In one of the articles under this column “ARCHITECTURE DERIVED FROM THE VILLAGE CONCEPT” it was shown the important role a family plays in national development and the importance of having acceptable homes from which to raise families.

This article focuses on the functions of walls in house construction in view of the above stated recent trends in order to help our readers have a clearer and broader appreciation of the implications of these trends.

A wall plays several functions in the performance of a house and these functions need to be fully understood in order to create suitable and comfortable homes for our families.

Sound Proofing

Walls are used as boundary markers to define the various functional spaces within a house plan and there are two types of walls in a house; one type is the internal walls which define the interior spaces while the external wall separates the interior spaces from the external surrounding space.

As space dividers, walls also act as acoustic barriers ensuring acoustic privacy between the various rooms which tends to be compromised when dividing walls are only built up to wall-plate level.

Sound or noise will be transmitted from one room to another mainly through airborne transmission as the effective separation between rooms in this kind of construction is only the thickness of the non-continuous ceiling board with the weakest entry points being the joints between the ceiling boards.

In such type of construction privacy will be compromised as discussion meant to be private and restricted will easily be audible in next adjoining rooms.

Fire Protection

In order to slow down the rate of flame spread in case of fire within a building, architects apply various techniques including the creation of fire compartments which would contain the fire for some time before spreading to other parts of the building.

One method is to take the block work walls between rooms up to the underside of the roof; for instance and depending on the quality of the aggregates used a 100mm thick solid brick work wall may have a Fire Resistance Rating of up to one and half (1.5) hours while a 200mm thick hollow concrete block work wall may have a Fire Resistance Rating of up to four (4) hours.

This may make a significant difference between what may or may not be lost during a fire depending on how a house is constructed and the fire insurance you take may also be affected by the method of construction used in your house.

Load Bearing

Depending on the method of construction adopted walls may be used as structural elements or load bearing walls used to provide an anchor and support to the roof structural system.

The walls used in this manner must have the required capacity to carry all the loads imposed on it including the walls’ own weight failure to which a building may develop structural cracks which may lead to the ultimate and eventual building failure and shortened life span.

This possibility is even more pronounced especially now that concrete blocks are usually made to anyone’s specifications which are usually inferior to the minimum preferred crushing strength of not less than 3.5N/mm2
Partition walls within a house can be used to resist lateral movement in a building and provide cross-bracing in the roof structural system. All these structural benefits may be lost when all internal walls are only built up to wall plate level and out of 150mm thick walls.

Thermal Protection

Geographically Zambia lies between latitudes 8 and 18 degrees south of the equator and between longitudes 22 and 34 degrees east, climatically Zambia is classified as a Tropical Upland.

The generally high altitudes tend to lower the air temperatures but the clear skies, however result in strong solar radiation being the dominant climatic design consideration.

A building, among other functions, is also a climatic filter and among the various building elements the roof surface receives the highest solar radiation intensity followed by wall surfaces facing east and west.

Walls facing south receive the least, if any, solar radiation intensity.

There are two major contributors to indoor temperatures which may result in the uncomfortable overheating of indoor spaces.

The first is what is commonly known as the “Green House” effect; window glass panes are practically transparent to short-wave infra-red radiation emitted by the sun entering the house through windows but glass panes are almost opaque to long wave radiation emitted by objects within a room.

The consequence of this is that the solar radiation, once it has entered the window, gets trapped inside the building and the temperature just builds up.

The second contributor has to do with the Periodic Heat Flow where in the hot period heat flows from the environment through the built fabric into the inside of a building.

Now depending on the thermal characteristics of the wall material the out-door temperature may have reached its peak and started decreasing before the inner surface temperature has reached the same temperature level.

The retention of night-time low wall surface temperatures is desirable in the hot season and the construction of walls with thermal capacities such as of solid masonry or concrete walls with nine (09) to twelve (12) hours thermal time-lag in heat transmission may be used to lower indoor temperatures.

However the thinner the thickness of an external wall the more transparent it will be to heat flow and the less will be the thermal storage capacity, in other words the indoor temperatures may reach their peak at the same time as the out-door air and solar temperatures.

This means a 150mm thick external concrete block work wall may not be as effective in helping lower internal temperatures as may be the case for more massive masonry or concrete walls unless, of course thermal insulation is used.

A building, therefore constructed from 150mm thick external concrete block walls is more likely to overheat during the hot season.

Moisture Protection

An external wall also acts as a moisture barrier separating the outer and wet environment from the inner environment and the effectiveness of the wall may depend on the absorptive capacity of the external fabric used.

Normally an architect may need to know whether intense rains are associated with strong winds or the likelihood of driving rain or the Driving Rain Index which characterises a given location and expresses the degree of exposure.

Although this index only broadly classifies the given location, the actual rain penetration will depend on the instantaneous rain intensity and the simultaneous wind velocity.

A thin external wall which is likely to easily allow passage of moisture into the inside is unlikely to offer protection against this element even where generous roof overhangs are allowed this may not completely offer protection to such walls and may lead to damp internal wall surfaces during the rainy season.

It is advisable therefore that when developers are making decisions on what materials to use on their project they consult because cost of materials is not the only important consideration to take into account, the various characteristics of building materials are equally important for the satisfactory performance of the building functions.

(The author is the Past Chairperson of the Zambia Institute of Architects- Copperbelt Chapter – 2012). Source: Times of Zambia