timber log homes

Shungu Mbili - Our most remote build yet..

T&B were approached in early 2013 by a Project management company based in Richards bay to see if we were interested in tackling a project on a Private Island just off Mafia Island in Tanzania.

UPDATED! Progress Gallery:

  • shungu00

    The undertaking: To build a luxurious mansion with several additional buildings, a jetty and supply all services to one of the most remote islands in Africa.
  • shungu01

    Due to the remote location, all contstruction materials, labour and equipment needs to be transported to the Island via Barge or Helicopter.

  • shungu02

    With the construction materials delivered in containers, the site set out has begun and the first piles have been installed.

  • shungu03

    With high humidity and a daily average of 30 C or more, our team has been working tirelessly to complete the first phase of construction.

  • shungu04

    The T&B team on Shungu Mbili Island. This project makes use of at least 50% local labour.

  • shungu05

    A temporary crew camp has been established on the Island for the duration of the project.

  • shungu06

    A bird's eye view of construction progress (March 2015).

  • 3D Artists Impression
  • Delivery
  • Setting Out
  • Aerial
  • Team T&B
  • Crew Camp
  • Birds Eye View

At this point we were only supplied with basic hand sketch concepts of a main villa unit, we immediately saw the potential in the makings of a really exciting and challenging project. We embarked on several variations of cost estimates for the project as whole to establish a broad based budget to present to the Client including numerous estimates on ancillary buildings and services, sans any preliminary designs from the Architect, that would be required to service the Villa and island including staff facilities, recreation areas, service buildings and respective main services for water production and storage as well as Power an sewer management.

The island is totally uninhabited and fairly well vegetated but highly environmentally sensative thus a “kids gloves” approach needed to be taken on all aspects of design in terms of construction methodology and implementation. The T&B approach to all projects is to premanufacture and prepare as much as possible in advance thus reducing both waste and construction period on site - to create a function of assembly as opposed to pure construction on site, this approach is perfectly suited to this application.

After nearly a year of extensive research and close collaboration with the proffesional team in developing the most sustainable, efficient, practical project package, especially taking into account the harsh environment, we negotiated the final scope of works and were awarded the project in November 2013.

Much to our disappointment the project was delayed for nearly a year due to environmental beaurocracy and we eventually only started shipping goods to the island in August 2014 however we saw the positive side and took the opportunity to refine and develop our planning instead of sitting around and waiting which has allowed us to start the project running.

Apart from the main villa the final scope of works included a Heli pad, several service and staff buildings along with various recreational facilities including a Tennis court, Games room, Two Breakfast hides and floating facilities on the leeward side of the Island. All of these also obviously also needed to be serviced in terms of Water, Sewer and power and bearing in mind that the entire project would be managed and supported by relatively unskilled local staff we needed to find balance in finding uncomplicated, hardy and low maintenance systems.

Also bearing in mind that there was nothing on the Island and only accesible by boat the actual construction work is the easiest part of the project with the challenge lying in the managemnet of logistics of both materials and accommodating labour on site.

Delivery of goods to the island is a epic story in itself and will be covered in future news articles, the simplistic version is that goods were road hauled ex factory to Port Elizabeth then shipped via Durban and on to Dar Es Salaam and after a lengthy port clearance containers were then loaded onto a 300ton barge / landing craft and delivered to the Island. The entire cycle ex factory to Island averages 90 days so any delay, short delivery or breakage can be catastrophic to the progress of works on site, after years of refinement and experience,fortunately this our forte and based on carefull planning and in house system implementation we have these situations under total control.

Tanzania has a massive tidal range so timing the arrival of the barge at the island was critical bearing in mind that we had a 48 hours allowance for off loading and faced a USD 2000/ Day standing time penalty if we went over this time. At low tide the barge would only get to within about 400m of the beach and considering we had no mechanical plant with all goods to be off loaded by hand we face a tense dilema with every delivery.

The first objective upon our arrival was to establish a fully serviced staff camp, this was carefully planned and all aspects including water and power systems were prefacbricated in our factory with the most critical factor being the production of water on site. A small group of hardy T&B pioneers was sent up in advance and camped under the trees for the first two weeks while establishing the staff camp along with a desalination plant to provide water to the site. This was a massive feat considering that the site was handed over to us at the start of the Tanzanian monsoon season !

The site is currently well into construction with 16 containers loads of materials already dispatched and off loaded on the island, taking into account the lengthy delivery period to the island along with limited storage facilities on the island, accurate logistical planning is the ‘key’ to success on this project.

Expected completion date is February 2016

Progress reports to follow….