32° East Arts Centre – Kampala’s first purpose-built community arts space and the new home of 32° East | Ugandan Arts Trust – is Localworks’ second completed construction project. Unlike Mustardseed Junior School, the architectural design was not developed by ourselves but by London-based New Makers Bureau. Our role during the design stage was architectural detailing and full-scope engineering.
The flexibly designed, fully accessible building is sited on a slope and arranged around a shaded, step-free courtyard, which creates a visual connection between all spaces, as well as an amenity space for social gathering and overspill space for the making and display of larger works.
The single-storey, low carbon building is hyper-local. Following key principles of the circular economy, it is constructed from materials already on the site: two redundant buildings above ground and the ground itself. The building is made from rammed earth and earth bricks composed of the rich, red-coloured earth that has been extracted directly from the site and sifted and pressed into blocks. Local eucalyptus timber has been used for the rammed earth formwork and then reused to make the roof trusses and shingles. Demolition materials have been reused for fill and as aggregate. The building incorporates strategies to temper the intensity of the sun, with the use of slim polycarbonate rooflights for natural daylighting, shutters prioritised over glazed windows, a sweeping roof to provide shade to the courtyard and a bespoke textured open brick ‘hit and miss’ in the façade to create dappled light.
The project is being developed in two phases. Phase one comprises four artists’ studios, a library, restrooms, and a flexible café, which will function as an interim gallery and workspace until phase two completes. The second phase, due to complete at the end of 2024, will include a gallery with mezzanine, four artist guestrooms, two artist studios, offices, kiosks and a walled courtyard garden.