2012 - 2013 | SECU

SECU (Sustainable Emerging City Unit) is a housing solution and constructional innovation which is made entirely out of panels made of compressed straw (www.strawtec.com). The building elements – walls, slabs and roof – are made of single or double layered compressed straw panels (6 or 12 cm thickness), joined by threaded rods and casein-based glue. A secondary structural system is not required. It is calculated to be earthquake resistant for two-story buildings. The individual panels are the produced in a continuous prefabrication process where the straw is compressed under heat to form an end product resembling a material comparable to hard wood.

The significant roof overhang and green screen of climbing plants give the unit its own character and protects the straw panels from rainwater.
The floor plan layout provides a balance between open and enclosed spaces to provide the user with maximum freedom of use with 35m² on each floor and an integrated, water-resistant sanitation unit. The design is based on standardized modules which can be combined to various design permutations and guarantees a simple implementation process.
As an alternative to the standard mass housing, this represents a possible solution for fast-growing urban agglomerations and provides extra business for the farming sector in emerging cities. The prototype was built in Addis Ababa in 2012. A new model compound of five units is currently (2015) under construction in Kigali (Rwanda).


SECU | Credits

strawtec plc, Germany
SIKA waterproofing materials PLC. Addis Ababa Ethiopia
AEE Dawit Kebede Addis Ababa Ethiopia
Design and implementation
bauhaus university weimar, institute of experimental architecture (ifex) in collaboration with the EiABC at the Addis Ababa University, 2012

SECU | Parameters


Addis Ababa Ethiopia
Year of construction
Construction time
Three months
Total floor space
96.00 m²
Floor dimensions
9.60 × 5.00 m
5.20 m
Ground floor area
48.00 m²
First floor area
48.00 m²
Extension space
0.00 m²
Max. no. of floors
Ground level + 02
Highly compressed straw panels (1200 × 2500 × 60 mm)
Grid of natural stones bedded in gravel
Ground floor
Straw panels (double layer, 120 mm)
Hollow core strawboard, prefabricated
First floor
Straw panels (double layer, 120 mm)
Ripped straw panel
8,500 USD (as of late 2012)
(includes sanitation, all finished first floors)