Casas Melhoradas is a housing development project that seeks to improve the housing standard for low income groups in Maputo, capital of Mozambique. The project aims to improve the quality of low cost housing and make it more affordable, as well as to develop residential typologies that improves the use of space and infrastructure.


Small residential units for low income groups in informal neighbourhoods. The dwellings are prototypes which tests the possibility of multi-storey buildings in the slums, thereby freeing up land for other purposes such as public space. The dwellings are developed to be built by local entrepreneurs, at low cost and with known technologies.


Maputo, Mozambique

  • Use prototyping to develop alternative forms of building production, with the aim of increasing local capacity to mass produce dwellings using local resources.
  • To showcase a tangible and practical way towards densification in the slum, which can lead to freeing up land for other purposes including public space that can strengthen local communities and social networks.
  • Demonstrate ways towards a sustainable building practise, for instance by the use of compressed earth blocks.

The four completed  prototypes (Casas Melhoradas phase 1-4) have explored different relevant aspects of the needs for housing in Maputo’s slums:

Phase 1 was built in 2014 in a low income residential neighbourhood near Maputo’s centre. The dwelling uses a simple construction system with locally made light pre-fab wooden elements that was transported to the building site and quickly assembled by hand. The house is re-interpretation of the traditional Mozambican case de madeira e zinco (house of wood and zinc) but with an improved indoor climate. Local sustainably sourced wood was used in the construction and old car tyres used as prefab foundation elements. The house is raised above terrain and less exposed to the frequent floods.

Phase 2 was built in 2015 and consists of a light two-storey wooden house resting on a heavy concrete plinth. The building was a further development of the construction system and production concept used in phase 1.  The vertical outdoor areas between the house and the street creates a social transition zone for cooking and interaction with passers-by. The rectangular volumes on the verandas contain gas stoves.  The building explores how multi-storey buildings can be integrated in the local socio-cultural context.

Phase 3 was built in 2016 and examines how an existing house made by sand-earth stone can be structurally strengthened to make an additional floor possible. The building was reinforced with vertical concrete pillars and another floor in a light wooden construction was added. As with phase 2 the building uses locally sourced wooden elements. New windows was added to the ground floor to improve the indoor climate. A gallery facing the private courtyard gives access to the new first floor’s two dwellings and creates an important social space shielded from sun and rain.

Phase 4 consist of two two-storey row houses, with the possibility of later adding a third floor. The dwellings are built with compressed earth blocks with a bit of cement, to decrease its environmental footprint. The typology explores how high density row houses can be integrated in the slum, as well as how a small social housing organisation can be developed.



Department of Human Settlements – KADK


The project has been financed through the following funds and donors: Tækker Group, Statens Kunstfond, Danmarks Nationalbanks Jubilæumsfond, Martha og Paul Kerrn-Jespersen Fonden, Dreyers Fond

  • Phase 1: 2014
  • Phase 2: 2015
  • Phase 3: 2016
  • Phase 4: 2016-2018

Contact Johan Mottelsson on

Read more on the project’s website