Dencity 2015: Special Mention


Entry by: August Lehnert


In America we tend to take cooking with electricity or gas for granted but the number one source of energy for cooking remains wood. This is troublesome with the world population growing at an exponential rate and the destruction of natural resources and forests. As these natural resources get harder and harder to find, people are forced to walk farther to get the required resources need to cook with. It is estimated that two billion people have shortages of fuel wood. Many rural women spend up to four hours a day collecting fuel for household use, sometimes travelling 5 to 10 kilometers a day. These long trips to find resources cause health problems from the physical strain of carrying wood long distances and also prevent the people from being able to use the time for other necessary activities. Without this obligation it could make it possible for a child to attend school or for a mother to have a job.

The Concept

With a solar cooker, these trips will no longer be necessary and the strain on the environment will be lessened. The solar cooker has no impact on the quality of the air. Young children are susceptible to large amounts of smoke in the air and can develop respiratory infections from open fires. Five million children per year are affected by such infections. The solar cooker also addresses the worldwide problem of unsanitary drinking water. In Africa alone, 358 million people do not have access to safe drinking water and over 840,000 people worldwide die from water related diseases. Water can be sanitized by heating it to 65 degrees Celsius for six minutes. Solar cookers are easily capable of heating to such temperatures and will sanitize the water with minimal effort and will sanitize without expensive water filters. Unicef estimates that there is potential usage of 200 million solar cookers worldwide with only .5 million currently being used. My design aims to solve the fuel, health, water, and energy crisis.

The oven has been designed to be easily shippable.  All of the sheets arrive in the slum flat with perforations.  The sheets are folded and bolted together.  The voids are filled with earthen brick.  The brick not only supplies insulation but ties the design in with traditional Kenyan architecture that uses mud with sticks for framing and rigidity.  There are three levels of oven in each structure with two cooking spaces per level.  The top of the structure is surrounded by a canopy of mirrors that act as a mechanism for capturing more light and also provide shade for people cooking or congregating beneath them and gives the oven an iconic look.  The ovens are designed to be set up in a checkerboard pattern.  This reduces heat build up underneath, adds stability, and provides a unique space where people can prepare food and sit on the benches.  The benches and counters are designed in a way that encourages human interaction and community cooking.

The project offers a unique way to fight environmental and health problems while giving people a cost free place to cook and meet up with friends.

About the entrant

August Lehnert studies architecture as an undergraduate student at Clemson University. He spent last fall and winter studying in Genova, Italy.