• image by graftlab.com

Let the sun shine down on … the Solarkiosk. Sustainable energy provision is regarded as one of the key cornerstones for the future growth of especially rural communities in developing countries. Just think about services like healthcare, sanitation or education – all rely on energy supply to run the equipment. While there is some form of access for metropolitan areas like Cape Town or Dakar there is often little to no chance for smaller villages to connect to any power grid. The internationally working architecture studio Graft come up with a clever solution which brought the German Design Award along with it.

When talking about mobility we at the Open Source Lab mainly think about access to certain functions fulfilling anything from basic needs like sanitation or water and food supply to more advanced needs like access to information platforms or job markets. Even though urbanization is in full stride there are plenty of areas in the world that have no access to those functions – they are off-grid, of any sort really.

With an estimated 1.5 billion people worldwide, the Sub-Sahara region of Africa is affected by over 800 million people being isolated from modern developments. In those cases, no energy means dirty drinking water, poor education and lacking healthcare infrastructure among others. They can be considered immobile which creates a vicious cycle of poverty.

Solving those issues is no small thing, especially if you try to tackle it by understanding the complex system that creates those situations. By offering tools to off-grid communities Studio Graft identified an important leverage point that carefully addresses the problem and shows respect to the potential of the people to help themselves. The Solarkiosk is more than just a power station. It acts as a hub for people, a local meeting point where you charge your phone, buy a solar-powered lamp or buy a pack of grains and get access to the internet while connecting with people.

 

 

The Kiosk is simply built and is intended to be assembled on location. Therefore the delivered kit is very light-weight and can easily be transported to remote areas. While only the electronic parts are manufactured centrally all other components like the walls can be sourced from local materials. The modular design allows for several sizes and offers communities the chance to adapt the Kiosk to their needs.

Besides the Solarkiosk Studio Graft explored other possibilities with their modular structure like the Solar School. Installed in a Refugee Camp in Jordania the solar-powered school is also supplied with a broadband internet connection which allows the teachers to use e-learning materials sponsored by the UNICEF. Additionally, students will have the opportunity to use tablets, printers and other technology equipping them with a high-quality education.

Joining hands with the Siemens Foundation the team of the Solarkiosk also provides Syrian and Jordanian refugee camps with a Solar Clinic. As a first of its kind, the structure allows the staff to treat up to 75 people per day offering anything from blood testing to medical ultrasound or mother-child-care.

As shown in many other examples giving people the opportunity to help themselves is far more effective and lasting than invading their communities with a First-World-Mentality. Recognizing the potential of the region in terms of all-year-round sunshine to produce the energy needed for services is a clever thing as well. Providing modern tools that run with low-priced and clean energy from the sun off-grid communities now have a chance to provide a more reliable service infrastructure to their people – therefore making them mobile.