March 17, 2022
2 Min. Read

The cosy home of Mr. Mwatawala

A bar counter on the balcony. An airy open kitchen. A feeling of space in a tiny two-bedroom – how an architect worked miracles in his Fumba apartment.

Aaaah, finally on holiday! The apartment of Shabani Mwatawala, an architect from Dar, certainly feels like a 5-star hotel room. From his bedroom, from the living room and from a cute little wooden bar-counter which he installed on the balcony, he has got a first-class panorama sea view above rows of white shining townhouses right down to the blue ocean.. “That’s exactly what I wanted”, says the 56-year old who was one of the early buyers in Fumba Town, the seaside satellite estate 18 km away from Zanzibar city. “I always wanted a home in Zanzibar, however small, with a sea-view. And I got it.”

Mwatawala bought in 2016 and moved in recently. Still active as an architect in Dar, where he lives with his wife Salama and two grown-up children, he only comes to Zanzibar occasionally, renting out his space-miracle in Fumba the rest of the time.

He has no problems finding short-term tenants: “Everybody likes the place because it’s well organised”, he says. As soon as he – or town management employees renting out on his behalf – open the entrance door to his apartment on the fourth floor to clients, an often heard comment is: “Oh, this is much bigger than I thought.” The main trick is an enlarged kitchen, achieved by knocking down part of the kitchen wall and removing the kitchen door. These changes make the entire 60-square-metre apartment look more spacious. Instead of a dining table, he built a wooden kitchen bar. Modern black barstools can be used flexibly here and at the balcony counter. “It was the lifestyle which comes with Fumba which convinced me”, says the friendly, quiet man, “the community feeling, social events, the security, the infrastructure. Not so much the apartment itself.”

In fact, he admits that, when looking at the floor-plan with his professional expertise, he immediately saw a few flaws: a cramped kitchen, a bedroom door opening up straight into the living room, insufficient lighting. “The kitchen I could change, the bedroom I have learned to live with”, he says. To hide the installation of ceiling lights he worked with beautiful panels of dark mninga hardwood as a cover-up but also as a styling element, bringing together TV shelves, kitchen counter and table. “Using one material and a uniform design makes a room appear more generous”, he explains. The same goes for the distinct dark-grey wall paint which he applied on a dominant wall in each room – the perfect background for African paintings. What’s now missing is only some bedroom storage: “ In the smaller bedroom we will only put open shelves”, the architect has decided.

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