Tourist ‘Bandas’, Lake Victoria, Uganda

A new Ugandan NGO called ‘Cherish Uganda’ asked me to provide a design for a tourist lodge able to generate a cross-subsidy for their work, thus reducing their need for external funding.  With a view over Lake Victoria, set in an organic farm-scape adjacent to a newly established banana plantation and a huge Muwafu (Incense) tree, it was a dream location.

The client’s brief demanded that they had to be built by local villagers using traditional methods and equipment.  I decided to adapt the traditional Karamojong vernacular house form I had lived in and studied in NE Uganda.  This is a round hut with the thatched roof carried on posts around the perimeter.  No weight rests on the wall but a small gap all the way round between the roof and wall induces a cooling draught – a sort of natural air conditioning.  I adapted this by inserting an mosquito screen in this position.  The form became a stretched circle – a lozenge.  A mezzanine level was inserted to the rear, carried on the brick wall – the bricks for which were made on site.  A team of village leaders from Karamoja built the roof and brought the thatch and mountain bamboo all the way to site also using local eucalyptus poles for the trusses.

The money earned supported their humanitarian work back home – a great success story.

The upper mezzanine bedroom has an en-suite shower/wc with its own eyebrow dormer, and the bedroom overlooks the double-height living space albeit there is total privacy upstairs in addition to a shared shower/wc, kitchen and living room on the ground floor. The walls extend into an embraced patio at the front shaded by the over-sailing, ‘prow’ roof. The walls are finished with hand thrown/rubbed render with a colour additive. The kitchen units are hand made from concrete with a polished finish.

The bandas each cost £9,500 to build and fit out complete. The first two are occupied by staff but for future units the tourist board suggested charges of $110/night. At 70% occupancy four tourist bandas would have covered the entire running costs of the NGO.

Although SWA do not expect to be commissioned for any more bandas in Africa, the project shows the passion, adaptability, and creative-thinking that drives all our projects!

Project Details


Tourist ‘Banda’ construction to provide cross-subsidy to Aids Orphan charity


Lake Victoria, Bulega, Entebbe, Uganda

Project Size

£9,500 per unit

Gallery Before

Gallery After

Extra Information

With the money that we paid the small team of ‘pastors’ from Karamoja, they purchased the land to build a similar thatched church, set up an orphan project, and paid a salary to the pastors for the first time.

They had cut the mountain bamboo themselves from high up in the remote mountains, along with the spacial grass thatch.  It was all delivered on a very overloaded lorry!

Scroll to Top