DESIGN SHADOW: INTERNATIONAL WORK IN AFRICA – PART TROIS (three)

This post is a continuous posting of a business trip to Africa. Go here  for the first of the series post. 

Today we started the day by meeting as a group. Last night the rest of our Utah base team arrived – the lead Architect, and 3 of our consultants. With these new arrivals and the local architect and engineers –including a number of interpreters –  we met to review the scope of the project and update everyone on the progress. After the initial briefing, the meeting broke out in separate groups – electrical, mechanical and structural. While these meetings took place the Owner’s representative and I met with the landscape team and then worked on emails and the like until lunch. Once lunch was finished we headed out to visit more vendors; tile, stone and plumbing fixtures…I know what you’re thinking – that is not the thing people would expect us to go to Africa to select, but it is a big thing.  A toilet – as silly and unglamorous as it sounds, in a place like Africa, plumbing fixtures need to be ones that the Contractor can bring in easily and one the building/facility managers can maintain and buy parts for locally.

A part of our afternoon was spent visiting some stone and slab yards. One of the stones that we are specifying is out of Brazil, but they don’t have a cutting/manufacturing facility there.  Because of this we toured local manufacturing factories to see if we shipped the blocks of stone to them, they would be able to cut and fabricate it for us. Though they aren’t as advanced as other countries that specialize in this production, luckily we found one good stone manufacturer that we might be able to use (see instagram for video post.)

We got back around 4:45 and then I went for a quick walk around the block of the hotel. This is something I look forward to in any travel I do, but up to this point it has been late when we are back at the hotel, and our interpreters have recommended that we don’t go out – even to walk the block. But because of the early hour today, they said it would be safe, but after being out for just a few minutes I became nervous; it wasn’t about feeling the minority but more about all the looks and attention from others. What really made me nervous was when I wanted to take a photo of a mid-century modern building. I asked permission from a security guard (all the buildings here have numerous men in yellow shirts and rifles of some sort.) After he said yes I put my camera through the bars of the fence to take a picture, but another yellow dressed man started pointing at me and yelling to other yellow dressed men. I quickly pulled my camera back through the fence and headed back to the hotel. As I turned the corner I recognized why all the hassle – It was a bank. They are very cautious about pictures being taken here! Even when we went to the grocery store earlier to get water and a snack, they looked under our car with a bomb mirror, and scanned us with a body scanner when we entered the building…all that to get a bottle of water!

 

This first group of photos is from the site where project will be built. 

 

 

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