Incremental housing solution for Mbya Guarani communities in Caaguazu, Paraguay.
The Oga’i House is a housing typology developed by CEDES/Habitat for and with the participation of the Mby’a Guarani indigenous communities living in the region of Caaguazu, Paraguay. The design of the Oga’i House follows the construction principles and cultural costumes of the traditional houses of the Mby’a Guarani community. The project also incorporates alternative building materials to replace or decrease the use of depleted resources such as wood.
Due to the remote location of these communities and difficult access to infrastructure, designers implemented passive design strategies and mechanisms such as low-tech interior airflow strategies, construction of new kitchen stoves to reduce the impact of smoke in the interior, hybrid roofing techniques combining standard and local materials to avoid Chagas disease spread, and external solar sanitary and shower system.
The Oga’i House initiative was co-designed between CEDES/Habitat and the Asociación Mborayhu Porã – Mbya Guarani, co-financed by the Ministry of Urbanism, Housing and Habitat of Paraguay through a social housing grant subsidy and benefited communities, assisted by the Architecture, Design, and Arts School at the National University of Asuncion, and executed by the construction company Altec S.A.
This product has been implemented by CEDES/Habitat through the Ministry of Urbanism, Housing and Habitat of Paraguay.
∼10,500 USD ( 58,800,000 ₲)Converted on December 2016
There are not primary competitors in Paraguay. However, similar initiatives can be found in other countries in Latin America. An example is the Masewalme kin chiwa in kaliwa Project in Mexico by COPEVI. The English translation of the project’s title is “Native people building their houses.” The project started in 2009 and so far they have built around 600 houses in fourteen different communities. The project received the World Habitat Award in 2014.
Target users include Mbya Guarani indigenous communities living in Caaguazu, Paraguay.
The design process of the Oga’i House typology included the participation of the Mbya Guarani community members through design charrette sessions and prototyping.
Building methods included off-site and on-site processes. Posts, rafters, and beams made of reinforced concrete were prefabricated off-site and transported to the site for assembly. Building materials such as bricks, cement, and corrugated galvanized sheets were sourced by suppliers from the region of Caaguazu and transported to the site for assembly. Teams of masons worked on-site for foundation and walls construction as well as roof assembly.
Locally-sourced materials included straw for roof insulation, fibrous materials for basketry work used for upper wall enclosures, and soil for rammed earth floors.
This product is distributed by CEDES/Habitat to Mbya Guarani families living in Caaguazu, Paraguay, through the Ministry of Urbanism, Housing, and Habitat of Paraguay.
By 2020, 2,904 units have been distributed to the Ministry of Urbanism, Housing and Habitat of Paraguay.
Indication of whether design can be replicated in multiple locations
Number of individuals. 1 family = 5 persons.
Number of days from start of construction to completion
Surface area of footprint
Number of occupiable floors (ground floor only = 1)
Primary materials used
Composite estimated R-value
As calculated by designer
As calculated by designer
Based upon primary structural system as per the International Building Code
Based upon Structural Occupancy Category and soil conditions of site; as per the International Building Code
List of suitable climates for use of this design
The Oga’i House developed by CEDES/Habitat in cooperation with Asociación Mborayhu Porã – Mbya Guarani sought to answer the need for housing based on the culture and costumes of the Mbya Guarani community living in Caaguazu, Paraguay.
The five-member family house unit is 40 m² and composed of three main spaces based on the traditional Mbya Guarani houses: a) “Tataypy” or cooking room; b) “Oga guy” or semi-covered space for social activities; c) “Keaty” or sleeping room.
The building system is made of off-site and on-site construction methods. The main structure is made of prefabricated forked columns, rafters, and beams. The structure recreates the traditional forked wood structure built by the Mbya Guarani and replaces wood which is a very scarce material in the region today.
The double roof system is composed of corrugated galvanized panels covered with a thatched roof. The use of galvanized panels protects families from potential contact with Chagas disease and the thatched roof layer works as the roof insulation layer.
Provided by the CEDES/Habitat.
Most of the components of the house were thought to be durable and low-maintenance due to the remote location of houses and difficult access to material suppliers. Foundation, walls, and roof are made of long-standing materials except for the layer of thatched roof used to cover the corrugated galvanized panels. This layer of the thatched roof can be replaced with local materials. Upper wall enclosures made of natural fibers can also be replaced with local materials.
Designer specified performance targets include:
- Off-site prefabrication of concrete components for the main structure to avoid using wood
- On-site assembly of concrete structure
- On-site walls construction
- Space organization based Mbya Guarani culture to impulse households appropriation
- Implementation of locally source materials for the foundation to avoid transporting materials from far away places
- Intermediate space area to facilitate social activities
- Upper wall enclosures to increase cross-circulation of natural ventilation
- Increment thermal insulation of roof implement a combine thatched and corrugated galvanized metal panel roof
- Decrease fire risk by placing the thatched roof over the corrugated galvanized roof panel
Observation performed by researchers from the University of Seville (Spain) reported confident results related to community participation in the design and construction process, reforestation in the area surrounding the houses (families benefited with a house paid part of the cost of the house through reforestation), improvement of comfort conditions in the interior of the house, implementation of a garden for family consumption, and cases of return of families members that migrated to urban areas.
No known safety hazards are related to this product.
The Oga’i House included the construction of a Solar Dry Toilet unit in the exterior of the house.
Prieto Peinado, M., and Gutierrez Mora, M., 2016. Observatorio Proyecto Oga’i. Evaluación Del Impacto Producido Por El Proyecto Oga’i En Las Comunidades Mbya-Guaraní. Habitabilidad y Entorno, Colleccion Investigaciones IdPA_02_2016, 297–312.
Prieto Peinado, M., Redelas Sanchez, T., Aguilar Ruiz, I., 2018, Estrategias Para El Reconocimiento de Costumbres y Hábitos a Través de La Lectura Del Territorio Mbya Guaraní En Las Comunidades Del Guaira, In Colleccion Investigaciones IdPA_04_2018, 141–61.
Prieto Peinado, M., Rios Cabrera, S., and Gill Nessi, E., 2017, El Oga’i de Los Mbya Guaraní de Caaguazu, Colleccion Investigaciones IdPA_03_2017, 245–61.
Rios Cabrera, S., 2013, Arquitecturas Tradicionales En El Paraguay, Arquitectura Vernacula Iberoamericana, G. Maria Viñuales, ed., Sevilla, 82–101
Rios Cabrera, S., and Gill Nessi, E., 2014, The Oga’i of the Mbya Guaraní People in Paraguay: Alternatives for Indigenous Habitat, Vernacular Heritage and Earthen Architecture: Contributions for Sustainable Development. M. Correia, G. Carlos, and S. Rocha, eds., Taylor & Francis Group, London, pp. 35-40
The Oga’i House is certified by the Ministry of Urbanism, Housing, and Habitat of Paraguay.
The University of Seville performed field-observations and interviewed households.
The designer developed a version of the Oga’i house but for another Native community in a different region. They stated they are working on a new version of the Oga’i House. Interview with designer
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